030820 Using chains to increase your strength, 2 of 2
Chains are essential pieces of gear in the weight room! If you don’t have them, then stop right now and go get a set. They don’t have to be the welded, high tensile strength ones like the loggers or truckers use to secure their loads; they just have to be chains. You can pick them up at your local hardware store and spend a small fortune or you can keep an eye on the garage sales.
Chains can help get you stronger by taking advantage of the natural strength curve of your muscles and favorable joint angles. They do so by adding weight to the bar at various points in the bar path. Everyone has parts of the lift that are not as strong as, for instance, the end of the lift where the joint angles are much more efficient lifting heavy weights.
Chains can help overcome the weak areas and improve on the strong phases of the lift simply by adjusting their length. For example, if you lack lock out strength then adjust the chains so all of the weight is on the bar at the end of the lift. You do this by making sure the chains are completely, or nearly so, off the floor at the end or top of each one of the repetitions.
Accelerating the bar to the top with chains on causes an overload at the finish. This overload is necessary to overcome your lack of lock out strength.
In the example just given, you help build your lockout strength by explosively lifting the bar through the full range of exercise movement until at the end of the lift the entire amount of chain is swinging off the floor.
If you miss your lifts at other points, such as lower in the bar path, then adjust the amount of chain left on the floor during that phase of your lift. Measure it out and set it up to add weight at that position in the lift. Simply fix the chain so it leaves more on the floor, this can be an incremental adjustment, earlier in the lift.
In our gym, we use chains from a logging skidder. These are cut into thirty-nine inch pieces, and then attached to a smaller chain with a single carabiner . These are attached to a modified spin lock collar that weighs five pounds.
If you don’t have the small incremental weight chips, then use the chains. The links on this chain are 5.05 ounces each making this easily adjustable for each lifter no matter what their strength levels may be.
The use of chains is just one of many different options that can be added into your strength training routine.
We have improved our lifts using two to three, one week cycles beginning with 65% of a 1RM for one week, moving up to 70% for the second week and ending up at 75% for the third week.
The first session of each week consists of six sets of two reps for the bench, the next session is a one rep max with the chains and the third session consists of six sets of three reps at the selected percentage rate.
Every now and then on an off day start with 75% on the bar and do two to three sets of as many as possible. Generally do this on the last day of the week so you have a couple of days to recuperate.
If the chains are used on other lifts adjustments in the sets and reps will need to be made.
The old standby of five sets of five reps has stood the test of time and whenever a schedule is slowing down and becoming less productive for you or your athletes then get on this for a two to three weeks and renew your enthusiasm.
Take a look at the pictures to get an idea of what these weigh and how to hook them up.
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