Bench Press Chains

We all know that the principle of constant power and strength progression is crucial in powerlifting. That’s why it is not surprising that powerlifters were not only the first to implement chains in their training, but did it so efficiently that chains later traveled to other sports as well.

Powerlifting chains are a very good way to diversify your training routine and shock your muscles. They are very good for increasing speed, strength and endurance. In fact, there is hardly any other tools out there that can make you feel the effect the very first workout you start using them.

Here is how it works:

Chains increase resistance as the bar lifts

Everything is simple here. When the bar is at the lowest point, when it rests on your chest, most of the chain lies on the floor, and due to that makes little resistance. But as you press the bar, chain straightens and increases the weight of the bar. In other words, at the top point the bar weighs significantly more, and vice versa.

Chains shorten the slow-down phase

As you already know, when there is a chain on your bar, the bar weights a lot especially at the top of the amplitude. That is why, unlike the usual bench press, when athletes prefer to relax a bit at the top point, this trick will never work with your bench press chains on. You do not want to keep the bar on straight hands for a long time, and have to continue the exercise no matter what.

Chains can help develop explosive power and impulse

Since the bar with the chains on becomes heavier as you press, you will strive to give the bar maximum acceleration in hope that the bar will go up through inertia. It may seem that you are accumulating strength to throw it out in one quick movement. And that is called impulse or momentum.

Chains can subconsciously increase your tempo

A barbell with bench press chains always seems very light at the bottom. So light that every time you lower the barbell after another heavy lift, you feel like you can do more. Chains are motivating to do the exercise more and do faster.

Chains increase endurance due to constant load variation

Mechanically bench press with chains is very different from the usual bench press. It is so different that the muscles perceive this movement as a completely new type of load. If in a usual bench press some phases are almost static, then in a press with chains there is a lot more dynamics.

Rules for using chains

  • You should have at least one year of regular training experience. If your experience is not enough, this method will probably not suit and will not bring the desired results.
  • The training period while using chains should not exceed 6–8 weeks. High-speed exercising strongly loads the musculoskeletal system and, if you don’t stop in time, you can easily get injured.
  • Pay special attention to the speed of your bench press with chains: lower the barbell to your chest smoothly in 2-3 seconds. Then make a second pause and let it rest on your chest, then quickly press the barbell into straight arms
  • If you are new to chain training, use chains for basic exercises only. In all other exercises, refrain from using them, for it is unsafe if you don’t have enough experience.

How heavy do you want your chains to be?

You may wonder how athletes can calculate the weight of chains they need. Well, here’s a little hint for you.

*Recommended weight goes for two chains – one for each end of the bar

SR Maximum

Chain weight

Under 100 lbs.

Sorry, no chains for you yet

100-200 lbs.

20 lbs.

200-300 lbs.

30 lbs.

300-400 lbs.

40 lbs.

400-500 lbs.

60 lbs.

*SR – single repetition

About Benjamin Clarkson

As a former professional weightlifter, Ben has come a long way in using a wide variety of equipment and training techniques, including weightlifting chains. His experience and knowledge is a valuable contribution to our team that can bring immense benefit to any visitor to his classes. Despite the image of a stern man, Ben actually demonstrates himself not only as a very understanding instructor, but also a cheerful and funny friend. If you have questions to Benjamin, just ask your question using the form.

Powerlifting Chains Reviews

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Weight Lifting Chains
Average rating:  
 2 reviews
by Michael Kibler on Weight Lifting Chains
Location (City, State): Orlando, FL

Being an ex NFL athlete, I did many things to keep me in shape. But one thing missing in our gym were chains. Always wanted to give them a shot, so I got the 5/8 x 7 set. Exactly what I needed. Though bench press was not the weakest part, with chains it got even better, and I mean much better.

by Sergio Romero on Weight Lifting Chains
Location (City, State): Sacramento (CA)

The best way to push your bench press further is to use chains. Period. But be careful cause it's not that easy as it may seem.

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