Lifting with Chains

Lifting with Chains

I’m trying a new thing n the gym: lifting with chains.

A couple of months ago, I was doing partial reps with higher weights to break through a sticking point in my deadlift. Now, I’m using chains to add accommodating resistance to the lifts I’m doing.

So what is accommodating resistance and why is it useful? Accommodating resistance means that the load you’re lifting changes during the lift to accommodate the natural strength profile of a lift. With many lifts your body is stronger at the top of the lift than at the bottom. By hooking chains onto the bar, the links of the chain lie flat at on the floor at the beginning of the lift, but as the bar goes up, so do the chains and so the load you’re lifting goes up.

175kg on the Bar + 40kg chains = 215kg Peak Load

175kg on the Bar + 40kg chains = 215kg Peak Load

Here’s why it’s useful:

Strength – It’s useful because it helps you work through sticking points. No longer are you limited to what you can manage at your weakest point of the lift – you can set up the chains so that you’re really stressing your sticking points all the way through the repetition.

Speed – Chains train you to use speed, which is very important for generating enough force when it comes to lifting bigger. By increasing the weight through the lift, the chains prevent you from building momentum, which means that your muscles have to become able to generate force all the way through the lift.

Speed is particularly important when you consider Newton’s Second Law of Motion:

Force = Mass x Acceleration

If you can boost your acceleration through a lift, you won’t stall partway through and you’ll be able to generate more force to overcome the load (mass).

Here’s a tip: with the deadlift (photo above), I found that the chains were too long, so half of the links were piled up on the floor at the top of the lift. To solve this I looped the end of the chain back over the bar, so that at the top of the lift the chains hung straight down with just a fraction of an inch to spare.

A friend remarked that the chains made him think of Brunel, which I can see, but I don’t think I’ll ever lift what Brunel is standing next to:


Tough Guy

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