Can Chain-Resistance Training improve performance?
The primary reason for chain-resistance training is to address the perceived issue that barbell deceleration occurs and force production decreases in the latter stages of typical strength training exercises (e.g. back squat, bench press, and the deadlift etc) (5). In other words, it is believed that towards the top portion of a bench press, the athlete reduces their force production, and is actually required to decelerate the barbell (i.e. slow the barbell velocity) to stay in control of the movement – unlike a bench throw where they would throw/release the barbell. Thus, it is believed that the accommodating load of the chains will retain, or even increase, force production and barbell acceleration (i.e. reducing the deceleration) in the latter stages of the exercise (5-7).
Part of this theory is supported by Swinton et al. (5), who reported an increase in peak force and impulse during the deadlift with chains. However, the authors also observed a decrease in peak barbell velocity, average velocity, peak power, average power, and peak rate of force development. This suggests that whilst chain-resistance training may be useful for maximising peak force and impulse in the latter stages of the exercise, it may not be so effective for maintaining or improving barbell velocity. These findings are an important contribution to the understanding of chain-resistance training.
It has been previously suggested that in order to improve force production in the latter stages of an exercise, an accommodating resistance of >15% of the athlete’s 1-repetition maximum (1RM) is required (4). In other words, it is suggested the accommodated weight added by the chains must be >15% of the athlete’s 1RM for that particular exercise.