How to Train With Powerlifting Chains



Things You’ll Need

2 large carabiners 2 large (5/8 inch) chains, each 5 feet long Barbell Weight plates Spring collar clips 2 small (3/8 inch) chains, each 4 feet long Bench press bench


Training with chains isn’t just for hard-core powerlifters. Adding chains to your free weight routine can accelerate muscle growth and build strength. In their article on chain training Jim Stoppani, Ph.D. and Rob Fitzgerald, C.P.T., explain how training with chains benefits you by slowly increasing the weight, one link at a time, as you work through an exercise. This makes the weight heaviest at the top of the move, when you’re at your strongest.

Chain Barbell Curl

Step 1

Attach a large carabiner to the end of each large chain and clip the carabiners to each end of a barbell, just inside the plates.

Step 2

Grasp the barbell with an underhand grip and stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart.

Step 3

Lift the weight up toward your chest, bending your elbows, but keeping them at your sides. Hold the weight at the top of the move at shoulder level for a count before lowing it to the starting position.

Step 4

Repeat the move for three sets of eight to 10 reps or perform the move until failure.

Chain Close Grip Bench Press

Step 1

Attach both ends of the small chains to large carabiners forming a loop and then attach the middle links of the large chains to the carabiners, as well.

Step 2

Slide the loop of each of the smaller chains onto the barbell before loading your plates so that there is a chain looped over the bar on each end just inside the plates.

Step 3

Lie down on your back on the bench and un-rack the barbell, holding it in a close — shoulder-width — overhand grip. Lower the bar to your chest.

Step 4

Press the barbell straight up until your arms are fully extended, squeezing your triceps at the top of the move.

Step 5

Lower the bar back down to the starting position. Repeat the exercise for three sets of eight to 10 reps or until failure.

Chain Barbell Bent-Over Row

Step 1

Attach a carabiner to the middle link of each of the large chains and clip the carabiners to the spring collars that are holding your plates in place on each end of the barbell.

Step 2

Bend forward at your hips and grasp the barbell in a overhand close — shoulder width — grip.

Step 3

Pull the barbell toward your waist, remaining bent at your hips and keeping your torso almost parallel to the floor.

Step 4

Lower the bar slowly only to the point that your arms are extended. Repeat the move for three sets of eight to 10 reps or until failure.


Personal trainer Matt Siaperas tells clients that working out with bands is another way of benefiting from linear variable resistance, especially for clients who shy away from the weight room or who have had an injury.


  • Matt Siaperas, personal trainer and former powerlifter; Hardbodies Gym; Blackfoot, Idaho
  • Muscle and Fitness Magazine: Chain of Command; Jim Stoppani, Ph.D. and Rob Fitzgerald, N.S.C.A. – C.P.T.; January 2010

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