Erik | Chain Exercise | Muscle Looking to whip yourself into shape in the new year? You’re bound to see some amazing results if you go a little hardcore in the gym. No, I’m not talking about engaging in S&M but instead using chains to give your tired workout moves new life. Oh, do I have your attention? Are you a wee bit excited? Hear me out.

I was flipping through an issue of Muscle & Fitness and they had an article about adding chains to some of your lifts. At first, I simply flipped the page. Hell to the no. That looks a bit too extreme for my taste. Then I gave it a few moments and reconsidered. In the article by Jim Stoppani, PH.D. harped on about how great chains are. Just a few benefits:

  • They provide resistance (linear variable resistance to be exact) to your moves, increasing the weight you’re working with as you perform a lift.
  • Improves muscular strength and power by forcing you to use your fast-twitch muscle fibers
  • Places more emphasis on your biceps by giving you more resistance during the point in the lift where your biceps are used the most (about halfway up)

How should you use chains? First and foremost, be careful! This seems like common sense but it should be stated that you shouldn’t run out, get some heavy chains and toss them over your barbell and start lifting like you’re The Hulk. Attach the adjustment chain (3/8-inch links) to the middle link of the large chain (5/8-inch link). Slide the adjustment chain onto the barbell just as you would if you were loading a plate. Load enough weight on bar (chains plus plates) so that you can perform 8-12 reps each set. At the top of the lift only a few links of the large chain should still be on the floor.

To give your biceps a good “chain” workout, try these moves with the added chains for resistance:

EZ-Bar preacher curl (12-15 reps, 3 sets), Incline dumbbell curl (10-12 reps, 3 sets), Barbell curl [no chains!] (8-12 reps, 2 sets), Barbell curl [with chains] (8-12 reps, 3 sets). *Rest 1-2 minutes between sets

Bonus Tip: Don’t have access to chains? No worries, substitute the chains for resistance bands. You can experience similar resistance benefits by attaching elastic bands to the bar as you lift.

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