Using Chains For Strength and Conditioning

I was recently reading the article titled “Using Chains for Strength and Conditioning” that was published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal in 2004 and thought I would highlight some of the key take home messages.

I was first introduced to chains within a strength and conditioning setting when I started training at Elite Sports Performance in Spotswood and have since read further through the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association and Westside Barbell Method.

Key Messages

  • Chains are typically attached to a barbell to be used with conventional lifts like the bench press, squat and deadlift.
  • The rationale for using chains within a strength and conditioning setting is to try and optimise the maximal force production through range of motion.  An example being the bench press or squat where maximal force production occurs at the top of the movement.
  • Chains can be used to allow for variable resistance throughout a movement such as the bench press, squat or deadlift by increasing the resistance at the top of the movement (less chain is on the ground) and reducing it at the bottom (more chain is on the floor).
  • Using chains as an adjunct to the conventional movements therefore increase ones need to stabilise as well as move greater loads through the different phases of the exercise.
  • At the time of this article (2004) there was little research into the use of chains.
  • The size and weight of chains can also change the additional external resistance.  There are now companies such as Ironedge who sell chains for use within the strength and conditioning setting.
  • When using chains, consideration and planning around how they are attached to bars is of utmost importance to ensure a safer lifting load.

For those looking for additional information on the use of chains and bands within training, please check out the following link:

Dan Baker –

This blog was written by Osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.


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