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  1. #1
    Moderator BrotherIron's Avatar
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    Using Chains in Training...

    There are many keys to success, but two invaluable ones are accelerating strength training and accommodating resistance. Chains and bands should be used in your training be if your training during your dynamic day for speed-strength or the maximum effort day to develop absolute strength.

    Lifters who have a sticking point at or slightly above the knees in the deadlift will find great benefit from using chains. If you are weak at the top, this will also solve your problem. The use of chains will help with starting strength as well. Because chains make it more difficult to press as the bar ascends, you will instinctively try to accelerate the bar from start to finish. The effects of training normally take 2-4 weeks, but the training effect with chains is immediate.

    Training with chains accomplishes three things:

    1. We have maintained our original weight in order to use correct percentages for explosive training

    2. We have overloaded the top portion of the lift, which normally doesn't receive sufficient work because of increased body leverage at this position.

    3. A neurological response to build explosive strength is developed. This training will train you to drive to the top because you can't slack off at the top phase as you used to.
    There are 2 kinds of pain in life... The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Your choice...

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  3. #2
    Elite tinymk's Avatar
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    I use them consistently on close grips and squats. Love the overloads of chain
    Best raw lifts on the platform
    Squat-600 Bench-512 Deadlift-683

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  5. #3
    Member joeyirish777's Avatar
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    do you drop a little weight when you put chains on to still hit 4-6 reps?

  6. #4
    Moderator BrotherIron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by joeyirish777 View Post
    do you drop a little weight when you put chains on to still hit 4-6 reps?
    There are several ways to utilize chains. You can use them for speed work. If you're performing speed work, you would use around 50% bar weight and then 50% of that weight would be chain. So for example if your best deadlift is 405, you would drop the bar weight to 205 (thereabouts, most people use 40-60% bar weight) and then you would use 100lbs chain weight. The point of speed work is to build speed strength. You should be moving the bar fast, and by fast I mean shoot it through the roof fast. I should also mention, speed work is usually sets of 2 or 3 for several sets with little rest. Again, an example would be 205lbs bar + 100lbs chain for 8 sets of 3 reps with 30 sec rest. If you begin to move the bar slowly, the weight is to high. You're getting your body to fire and produce more force so you can really accelerate the bar.

    You can use chains for max strength so sets of 1 or 2 with a lot of rest (4-6min rest in between sets). So if you want to build that max strength and your best deadlift is 405, perhaps you put 350 on the bar and add 75-100lbs in chain which would equate to 425-450lbs at the top of the pull. You couldn't pull that straight bar weight but with the use of chains you're getting your CNS to handle the load and fire as one unit. You're also getting your muscles adapted to the heavier load too.

    Those are just 2 ways to incorporate chains into your training.

    You can use them as a means of training through an injury or around a preexisting problem. If you loo at my training, I use chains every day I train bench due to my right shoulder. I've had a few bad injuries to it and I opted not to get it cut. That decision has impacted my ability to bench but I work around it as best as I can.

    You can use for higher rep ranges too, like you mentioned 4-6 reps. There are many ways to use chains. Just get a few sets and give them a try.

    Also be sure to learn how to properly set them up b/c I see people using them incorrectly ALL the time.
    There are 2 kinds of pain in life... The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Your choice...

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  8. #5
    Senior Member ATLRigger's Avatar
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    Thanks for the write up; great technique to improve deadlift.
    But...
    The chains at gyms are so small and cute that my 2-year-old daughter can lift one above her head.
    At work we pull 80ft of chain plus another 5-50ft of steel cable and shackles, all while balancing on a six inch beam 135+ ft in the air.
    Real men's work haha
    But my deadlift still sucks and i should probably use this technique anyways

  9. #6
    Moderator BrotherIron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ATLRigger View Post
    Thanks for the write up; great technique to improve deadlift.
    But...
    The chains at gyms are so small and cute that my 2-year-old daughter can lift one above her head.
    At work we pull 80ft of chain plus another 5-50ft of steel cable and shackles, all while balancing on a six inch beam 135+ ft in the air.
    Real men's work haha
    But my deadlift still sucks and i should probably use this technique anyways
    For chain sets, they should be a min of 1/2" ideally and that's not a "heavy" set. You want 5/8" or 3/4" sets. 3/4" sets usually add 60lbs to the bar. I have 2, 5/8" sets and 2, 3/8" sets, and one small set.

    You can also use bands to accomplish the same thing BUT... you can't use bands for the same duration as chains. Chains don't beat you up nearly as bad as bands do.
    Last edited by BrotherIron; 05-17-2020 at 10:00 AM.
    There are 2 kinds of pain in life... The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Your choice...

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  11. #7
    Senior Member Chump16's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by BrotherIron View Post
    There are several ways to utilize chains. You can use them for speed work. If you're performing speed work, you would use around 50% bar weight and then 50% of that weight would be chain. So for example if your best deadlift is 405, you would drop the bar weight to 205 (thereabouts, most people use 40-60% bar weight) and then you would use 100lbs chain weight. The point of speed work is to build speed strength. You should be moving the bar fast, and by fast I mean shoot it through the roof fast. I should also mention, speed work is usually sets of 2 or 3 for several sets with little rest. Again, an example would be 205lbs bar + 100lbs chain for 8 sets of 3 reps with 30 sec rest. If you begin to move the bar slowly, the weight is to high. You're getting your body to fire and produce more force so you can really accelerate the bar.

    You can use chains for max strength so sets of 1 or 2 with a lot of rest (4-6min rest in between sets). So if you want to build that max strength and your best deadlift is 405, perhaps you put 350 on the bar and add 75-100lbs in chain which would equate to 425-450lbs at the top of the pull. You couldn't pull that straight bar weight but with the use of chains you're getting your CNS to handle the load and fire as one unit. You're also getting your muscles adapted to the heavier load too.

    Those are just 2 ways to incorporate chains into your training.

    You can use them as a means of training through an injury or around a preexisting problem. If you loo at my training, I use chains every day I train bench due to my right shoulder. I've had a few bad injuries to it and I opted not to get it cut. That decision has impacted my ability to bench but I work around it as best as I can.

    You can use for higher rep ranges too, like you mentioned 4-6 reps. There are many ways to use chains. Just get a few sets and give them a try.

    Also be sure to learn how to properly set them up b/c I see people using them incorrectly ALL the time.

    I've used chains in a manner similar to what you've described here ...... love them

    Need to buy some for the home gym
    "If its important to you, you will find a way - if its not, you will find an excuse"

  12. #8
    Elite Grizzly911's Avatar
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    What about using chains for hypertrophy and growth?

  13. #9
    Moderator BrotherIron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Grizzly911 View Post
    What about using chains for hypertrophy and growth?
    Sure you could tailor it to hypertrophy work. I've used chains before in my training ie. flat bench flies with chain or skullcrushers with chain. You just attach the chains to a cable crossover handle.

    You can get very creative with chains.
    There are 2 kinds of pain in life... The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Your choice...

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  15. #10
    Elite Grizzly911's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by BrotherIron View Post
    Sure you could tailor it to hypertrophy work. I've used chains before in my training ie. flat bench flies with chain or skullcrushers with chain. You just attach the chains to a cable crossover handle.

    You can get very creative with chains.
    Yeah, I'll keep it in mind. I'm a big believer in front squats for somewhat high reps.

  16. #11
    Senior Member Sicwun88's Avatar
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    Bands & chains have helped me dramatically w breaking thru sticking points!
    Never used them in the past till I started researching West side Technics! Thanks for the post!
    Good information!
    Last edited by Sicwun88; 05-17-2020 at 08:02 PM.

  17. #12
    Moderator BrotherIron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Grizzly911 View Post
    Yeah, I'll keep it in mind. I'm a big believer in front squats for somewhat high reps.
    You can definitely use chains when performing front squats or any squats for that matter. You'll actually see that I use chains in many of my squat variations, one being front squats. You can also use it for bench and deadlifts. If you're using a machine for a movement, I recommend trying to attach a band.
    There are 2 kinds of pain in life... The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Your choice...

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    Member joeyirish777's Avatar
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    well im sold. awesome info brother I'll find me some and let you know how it goes!

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    Moderator BrotherIron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by joeyirish777 View Post
    well im sold. awesome info brother I'll find me some and let you know how it goes!
    If you have a lowes/ home depot you can get some 3/8" sets (you can make). Ideally you want bigger. If you have a harbor freight, you can get some 1/2" chain and make a set. You can go on Titan and get some 5/8" or 3/4" sets which is what you want for bigger movements like squats and pulls.

    You can even use chains like Donnie Thompson does and add a set of chain with each set of a lift performed. I want to make some more 1/2" sets so I add a chain with each set on bench considering that my shoulder is shit. This will allow me to add weight but not nearly as much when my shoulder is in the weakest position. So... this would allow me to do a set with 1 chain, 2nd set add a chain, 3rd set add another chain, 4th set add another chain.
    Last edited by BrotherIron; 05-18-2020 at 09:44 AM.
    There are 2 kinds of pain in life... The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Your choice...

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