No doubt you’ve seen people at the gym using heavy chains. They may have had them draped over their shoulders. Or attached to a barbell.
Weightlifting chains are a great addition to your training routine. They can vary the resistance of an exercise. This is because they lay on the floor at the bottom of the movement. The resistance is lighter at the bottom.
Likewise, it will be heavier at the top. This means you can explode the weight back up. Plus, you’ll be working the top range more efficiently.
Thinking about trying chains out?
This guide will review the best weightlifting chains on the market. Let’s check it out!
In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:
Quick answer – Best Weightlifting Chains
- Rogue Chain Kits – Best Overall
- Valor Fitness Steel Weight Lifting Chains – Best Durability
- Ader Barbell Olympic Weight Lifting Chain – Best For Olympic Barbells
- Advantage Rigging Weight Lifting Chain – Best Length Adjustable
- Happybuy Weight Lifting Chains – Best For Bench Presses
- Titan Fitness 6 Ft 5/8-in Heavy Chains – Best Value
- RopeFit Weightlifting Chains – Best For Beginners
Reviews – The Best Weightlifting Chains
Rogue Chain Kits – Best Overall
Here’s our pick for the best overall weightlifting chains. The Rogue Chain Kit is available in a 10lb length with ½” chains. There’s also a 15lb length with 5/8-inch chains. Both are 4’ long. There’s a kit for different experience levels.
Also, there are 1 ⁄ 4 ” leader chains with carabiners. A carabiner lets you hang the chains properly from the highest position. This way, they rest on the floor when you reach the bottom position of your exercise.
All Rogue chains use zinc electroplating to stop rust. Rogue suggests chains that are around 10-20% of your 1 rep max for each exercise you do.
- Available In 10lb And 15lb Lengths Of 4’
- Chains Are ½” Or ⅝” Thick
- Zinc Electroplated For Rust Protection
- Some Users Feel The Chains Are Too Short
Valor Fitness Steel Weight Lifting Chains – Best Durability
Here’s our pick for best durability. The 69” long Valor Fitness Steel Weight Lifting Chains will withstand heavy use. Chains increase the concentric resistance of free weight movements. Concentric refers to the positive phase of the lift.
Included with the Valor Fitness Chains are 2.5” collars. This allows users to securely attach the chains to a barbell. They use locking pins for security. Finally, you can drape the chains over your shoulders. The best exercise when used this way is dips. These chains add 50lbs to any lift you’re doing.
- Solid Steel Chains
- Adds 50lbs
- Secured With 2.5 Collars & Locking Pins
- Some Users Have Found Sharp Ends On Different Parts Of The Chains
Ader Barbell Olympic Weight Lifting Chain – Best For Olympic Barbells
This is our pick for the best weightlifting chains for Olympic bars. Ader Barbell Olympic Weight Lifting Chain is available in sets of 30, 45, or 60lbs. This is the weight of the pair. So, if a user buys a 60 lb set, each chain weighs 30lbs.
These chains are heavy-duty steel. Each pair is about 60” long. They range in thickness from ½”, to ⅝”, to ¾”. Also, the Ader Barbell Olympic Weight Lifting Chain has zinc shaft collars for strength.
- Available In Three Sets
- Comes As A Pair
- Made Of Heavy Duty Steel
- Some Users Don’t Like The Fact That The Chain Does Not Fall Straight Down Off The Collars.
Advantage Rigging Weight Lifting Chain – Best Length Adjustable
Here’s a chain that features adjustable length. They do not use collars. These chains come with two snap links and carabiners. The Advantage Rigging Weight Lifting Chain is meant for weightlifters, powerlifters, and Crossfitters.
These chains come in pairs of 65.6 lbs, or 32.8 lbs per chain. They’re 5’ long, and come in your choice of ⅝” and ½” thick. Also, you can adjust these chains to match user height. You can also adjust them to match the resistance of the lift.
- These Chains Use Snap Links And Carabiners – No Collars
- Comes In A Pair Of 32.8lbs Per Chain
- Made Of Steel
- Some Users Feel The Snap Links And Carabiners Are Not Strong Enough
Happybuy Weight Lifting Chains – Best For Bench Presses
Here’s a pair of chains that are 5’ in length. Happybuy Weight Lifting Chains are available in 26lbs, 35lbs, and 44lb pairs. You can use these chains with Olympic bars. They include collars that attach with L-screws. Also, the collars are 2” in diameter and 3” long, so they will fit any Olympic bar.
The Happybuy Weight Lifting Chains are specifically for bench presses. Also, there’s a spring snap hook in the middle of each chain. That means one 5’ chain can be split into two separate chains. Of course, you can use them for other exercises.
- You Can Detach The 5’ Long Chains Into Two Lengths
- Available In 26, 35, And 44lb Pairs
- Fits Olympic Bars
- Some Users Are Unhappy With The Collars
Titan Fitness 6 Ft 5/8-in Heavy Chains – Best Value
Here’s a pair of chains for value-conscious users. The Titan Fitness Heavy 6’ Chains come in a 42.6lb pair. Each chain weighs 21.3 lbs. There’s a heavier (62.6lbs) set available at extra cost. These chains are 5/8” thick.
They include carabiners so you can attach them to connector chains. This allows the chains to hang low and rest on the floor. Finally, these chains are heavy duty steel for strength and durability.
- Available In A 42.6lb Pair
- Great For Value-Minded Users
- Made Of Heavy Duty Steel
- Do Not Offer The Level Of Rust Protection Of Other Chains
RopeFit Weightlifting Chains – Best For Beginners
Here’s our pick for the best weightlifting chains for beginners. RopeFit Weightlifting Chains come in various lengths and weight options. They start at 20lbs and go up from there.
These chains include leader chains and spring links.There are no collars, the leader chains wrap around your bar. RopeFit Weightlifting Chains consist of forged steel for strength. They’re built to resist rust.
- Made For Beginners
- Available In Various Sizes And Weights
- Rust Resistant
- May Be Too long For Some Users
Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best Weightlifting Chain?
What Are Weightlifting Chains?
Weightlifting chains are chains of various weights and lengths. You attach them to a barbell. Usually, they attach to the bar with collars. Some chains use carabiners and leader chains. This means you wrap them around the end of the bar. They make the concentric phase of the movement heavier. You can also drape them around your upper body for use on dips or other bodyweight exercises.
How Weightlifting Chains Work – Principle Of Progressive Resistance
We noted that chains add resistance to both barbell work and bodyweight movements. As far as barbell work, this is the principle of accommodating resistance. This form of resistance changes the difficulty through the concentric part of the movement.
When you reach the bottom of the rep, the chains rest on the ground. You’re at your weakest in this position, so this eases some of the resistance.
When you’re at the top of the rep, the chains lift off the ground. You’re at your strongest, and this creates more resistance. For bodyweight movements, chain lifts provide more resistance throughout the movement.
This is all tied to force and gravity. Also, it has to do with the effect on the muscle. Especially at different points of the exercise. For example, you’re doing squats. This exercise starts with the person standing up. The bar is across your upper back.
You begin the lift by squatting down. The lower you go, the more force on your lower body. As you get lower to the ground, the exercise becomes harder. The toughest part is when it’s time to stand back up. Then, you get close to the start position. At this point, the force begins to ease a little. Finally, by using chains, you’re adding around 10 to 50 lbs per chain.
What To Look For When Considering Weightlifting Chains
As noted, adding chains to a lift will increase the concentric phase of the movement. That means when choosing your chains, choose a lighter pair. This way, you can add chains in smaller increments. After all, you have to be able to lift the extra weight.
Our best overall, the Rogue Chain Kit, has two kits available. They specifically meant these kits for different experience levels. Are you an intermediate lifter? Rogue has a chain kit for you. What about a beginner lifter? yep, Rogue has one for you too.
By taking the weight of the chains into account, you can better plan your progress. Here’s one thing to remember when choosing your chains. Make sure you verify the length and the weight of each individual chain. Buying a pair will double the weight.
A good example of this is Ader Barbell Olympic Weight Lifting Chains. They sell sets of 30, 45, or 60lbs chains. Their description makes it clear that those are for a pair.
Every chain in this guide is made of steel. Many of these chains have rust protection. Our best overall, the Rogue Chains are zinc electroplated to fight rust. This, in turn, improves the durability of the chains.
Do the weightlifting chains you are considering use leader chains? These are smaller chains that attach to the barbell. They don’t use a collar. Still, you can add a collar if you wish. One example is RopeFit Weightlifting Chains. The leader chains wrap around your bar. Since they are smaller, these chains should be durable. If you’re using collars or carabiners, they should be strong enough to handle the load.
Any weightlifting chains you are considering should be versatile. This means the length needs to be adjustable. Some chains, such as the Happybuy Weight Lifting Chains, use a carabiner in the middle. This allows users to detach one 5’ chain into two shorter lengths. This type of versatility works well for different barbell and bodyweight exercises.
What Exercises Can I Do With Weightlifting Chains?
There are several exercises you can add weightlifting chains too. These include squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. For bodyweight exercises, dips are the most common.
As noted, these exercises have a good ascending resistance curve. This means that the exercise feels easier near the bottom. As noted, this is because some of the chain lays on the ground. This increases time under tension or TUT.
Time under tension refers to how long a muscle is under tension during a set. It’s a time-based training principle. The idea is to keep a muscle under tension as long as possible. The goal is 2o seconds to promote strength gains. If muscle mass is your goal, TUT should be 40 seconds.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Chains?
We have looked at the primary reason to add chains to your lifts. Let’s take a look at the additional benefits.
We have seen that adding chains supports the concentric phase of the movement. The chains rest on the floor at the bottom of the lift. We know that the resistance feels easier. This means you can explode the bar out of the bottom. The chain weight increases as the bar moves upward. That will slow the explosiveness of the movement. If you want to keep that going, you will have to work harder.
When you take the chains off, you will have a more powerful lift. This will be true in the strength curve where you haven’t been exerting maximal force.
Increase Strength By Overloading Your Lifts
Hitting a plateau is common among weightlifters. You can only increase your weights for so long. At some point, you’ll hit a plateau. Adding weightlifting chains is a good way to get a feel for heavier loads. Plus, you can do it without adding more plates. For example, your max squat is currently 400lbs. If you add 10%, that’s 40 more lbs. Even adding half that will take time to actually be able to lift.
By using weightlifting chains, you could load up 320lbs in plates. Then, you can add 120lbs in chains. That’s 440lbs. Due to the nature of using chains, you should be able to do reps. This gives you the feel of adding that 10%. It does this without actually putting more plates on the bar. Then, you ease off the chains as you add plates over time.
Increase Strength On Sticking Points
This is like the above benefit. A sticking point is the weakest point in your lift. Do you fail at the same point each time? Then you know you need to train that specific point. You can use chains to unload and reload extra weight. This means you can work the specific point of the movement. You’re fighting against the weight of the chain. Then in time, you will go back to using only the bar. You will have developed more strength. You’ll be able to use maximum force throughout the strength curve.
Increase Core Stability
Some weightlifters may have a hard time keeping their core tight. Using weightlifting chains can cause the bar to be unstable. You can concentrate on engaging the core muscles. These muscles help keep the bar stable. This is most effective on benches and squats.
How To Use Weight Lifting Chains
Using weightlifting chains is pretty straightforward. Here’s an important point to setting up the chains. You want most of the chain resting on the ground in the bottom position. We’ve talked about this throughout this guide.
For squats and presses:
Create a loop with the lead chain and a carabiner. Then, hang it over the sleeve of the barbell. It should be on the outside of the plates. You can also use a collar for added security. Put it outside of the chains. This keeps them from sliding.
With deadlifts, do the same thing. Hang the chains from the end of the barbell. You can use collars for more security.
As we have seen, adding weightlifting chains has several benefits. Have you decided to add them to your home gym? Start by checking out our best overall, the Rogue Chain Kit. There are two kits of different lengths and weights. Each kit is geared towards different experience levels.
Would you prefer value-conscious weightlifting chains? Titan Fitness 6 Ft 5/8-in Heavy Chains are the best choice. These chains come in two weight levels, 42.6lb per pair, and 62.6lbs. These are heavy-duty chains made using durable steel.
Are you focused on using weightlifting chains for the bench press? Happybuy Weight Lifting Chains are meant for bench presses. They are 5’ long and come in 26lbs, 35lbs, and 44lb pairs.
Adding chains can bring your strength and size to a whole new level. Use our guide to find the best weightlifting chains for you. Ready to grow?