How To Set Up Chains For The Bench Press
Walk into any real gym and you’ll likely find some chains laying around or being used in some capacity or another. The most common exercise to see them used on is the bench press. While the bench press has numerous benefits to strength and performance, adding chains can upgrade some of the training aspects. The issue is most people don’t know how to properly set up chains for the bench press.
In most cases, you’ll see chains already attached or manufactured with a barbell attachment already on them. The problem here is that the attachment is on the very end of the chains, so that the chains can only be placed so that they run in a straight line. THIS IS INCORRECT. This provides very minimal change in resistance on the strength curve. This will generally only allow for a couple of the chain links to deload into the floor.
What does “deload into the floor” mean?
Quite simply, when the chains are set up, the chains on the floor are providing some kind of stability to the barbell when it’s unrack. This is a good thing because we want to use the chains to help develop strength and power, and don’t want this to become a balancing act or stabilizing exercise. This can come in handy, but is not the primary reason we are using the chains. As more and more links are on the floor, they are no longer “added” to the weight of the barbell when it is in your hands.
What we want is a good change in resistance from the bottom to the top during the execution of the bench press. Ideally most of the chains will be on the floor at the bottom, and about half or more of the chains will be off the floor at the top. This makes the exercise harder as the barbell gets closer to the locked out position, helping load the triceps and adapt to the strength curve of the exercise (the hardest part of the bench press is off the chest, biomechanically speaking).
What Will You Need?
You’ll need the following things to set up your chains correctly:
- Feeder Chain or EZ Loaders
- Minimum of one pair of 5/8″ chain or thicker
Once you have these, you’re good to go. However, based on your strength, you may need more than just one pair of chains. Ideally, you will have 20-25% of chain weight that you can use to get the desired training effect.
For example, a 300 pound bench presser would want to have 60-75 pounds of chain on the bar at the top. Since set of 5/8″ chain is approximately 20 pounds, this lifter would want at least 2 pairs of chains, or two sets per side.
Watch the video below to learn more about setting the chains up, and how to get the most of them in your training.
While there are a couple different ways to set up your chains, you mainly want to ensure you’re using the right chains and that you have enough of them to get the desired training effect. Having the chains run in one straight line from the barbell is incorrect, and is not doing you any favors to your training. If anything, it’s a call of attention that you don’t really understand the science behind accommodating resistance. Set your chains up correctly, so you can see your bench press reap the benefits from your hard work.
Feeling confused? Have questions? Did we blow your mind with something? Let us know in the comments section.