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Chains�Not Just for the Bedroom Anymore

Suspended chain squats can be a very effective training tool, and they can be implemented many different ways into your training. Here are a few that we at Granite City Barbell have used effectively to increase the strength and form of lifters of all strength and experience levels.

The setup: Drape two, 8 foot pieces of chain (we use 3/8� link chain) over the monolift. Each piece should be in line with the grip rings and half the chain should be on each side of the bar so the bar tracks between each side. (This is a good guide so that you can see if you push the bar up in a straight line.) Color code links of the chains so that you can easily change the heights with a sturdy carabineer or bolt. (See the photos below.)

  1. On dynamic day, use the chain squats as a substitute or to replace box squats. Lifters who have low back or disc impingement issues will find suspended chain squats a safe and less painful alternative because they eliminate the disc compression that sitting and sometimes plopping on the box can cause. However, please remember that box squats, especially at the novice level, can�t be replaced. They are probably the single best way to teach someone to squat properly, and they recruit hamstring involvement.

 

  The chain height can be adjusted to any height that follows your current training protocol.   Remember that as the weight gets heavier, your squat depth will change due to spinal   compression. Once you have experimented with the set-up and feel, add any type of resistance that you would normally use such as chains and/or bands to accommodate   resistance. Use the same rep scheme as well as a slight to moderate pause with the chains.

  1. Chain squats can be used to create a speed or strength phase for implementation on dynamic or max effort day as follows:

Using the set-up listed above, create your own wave or use the one we use regularly at points in our training cycle as a replacement for dynamic days.

Here�s our wave for the strength phase:

Week 1: 35%, bar weight plus a pair of heavy bands plus the following chain weight added on; all performed for two reps per set.

Set 1�3: pair �� link chains

Set 2�4: pair �� link chains

Set 3�6: pair �� link chains

Set 4�8: pair �� link chains

Sets 5�10: pair �� link chains

Week 2: 35%, bar weight plus a pair of heavy bands and a pair of average bands plus the same chain weight as week one

Week 3: 35%, bar weight plus two pair of heavy bands with the same chain weight as weeks one and two

Week 4: deload, 45%, bar weight plus the following chain weight only

Sets 1�4: five pair �� link chains

Sets 5�8: 10 pair �� link chains

To change this to a speed phase, change the band scheme as follows:

Week 1: average band

Week 2: heavy band

Week 3: heavy band plus light band

  1. Use chain squats for max effort day by creating a 4�16 week training cycle based on a peak at the end of the cycle for your target meet. All squats are done at 6 inches and 4 inches above parallel in briefs only (belt optional). All squats are done at 2 inches above parallel with briefs, a suit (straps down), and your belt. All reps performed at parallel should be done in full gear with knee wraps (optional), and all squats performed free of  chains should be done in full gear with knee wraps and a trusted team member to judge depth.

The following is only a guide. The percentages are based on a target max for your training cycle, and the weights may need to be adjusted at some point. Create your own spreadsheet for your training cycle to help with the speed of your workout. Here�s the last training cycle we used at Granite City Barbell.

Week 1

Warm up

6� above parallel, 85% for three reps

4� above parallel, 75% for three reps

2� above parallel, 70% for five reps

Week 2

Warm up

6� above parallel, 88% for two reps

4� above parallel, 77% for three reps

2� above parallel, 73% for three reps

Week 3

Warm up

6� above parallel, 90% for two reps

4� above parallel, 80% for three reps

2� above parallel, 75% for three reps

Week 4

Warm up

6� above parallel, 92% for one rep

4� above parallel, 82% for three reps

2� above parallel, 77% for three reps

Parallel, 70% for five reps

Week 5

Warm up

6� above parallel, 95% for one rep

4� above parallel, 85% for three reps

2� above parallel, 79% for three reps

Parallel, 72% for three reps

Week 6

Warm up

4� above parallel, 87% for three reps

2� above parallel, 81% for three reps

Parallel, 75% for three reps

Week 7

Warm up

4� above parallel, 90% for three reps

2� above parallel, 84% for three reps

Parallel, 78% for three reps

Week 8

Warm up

4� above parallel, 92% for two reps

2� above parallel, 86% for two reps

Parallel, 80% for three reps

Free squat, 75% for three reps

Week 9

Warm up

4� above parallel, 95% for two reps

2� above parallel, 88% for two reps

Parallel, 82% for two reps

Free squat, 77% for two reps

Week 10

Warm up

4� above parallel, 98% for one rep

2� above parallel, 91% for one rep

Parallel, 85 % for one rep

Free squat, 79% for one called rep

   

Week 11

Warm up

4� above parallel, 101% for one rep

2� above parallel, 93% for one rep

Parallel, 88% for one rep

Free squat, 81% for one called rep

Week 12

Warm up

4� above parallel, 103% for one rep

2� above parallel, 95% for one rep

Parallel, 91% for one rep

Free squat, 84% for one called rep

Week 13

Warm up

4� above parallel, 106% for one rep

2� above parallel, 97% for one rep

Parallel, 93% for one rep

Free squat, 86% for one called rep

Week 14

Warm up

4� above parallel, 110% for one rep

2� above parallel, 100% for one rep

Parallel, 95% for one rep

Free squat, 88% for one called rep

Week 15

Deload week

Week 16

Openers

The key to being successful is training smart and intensely, and with an open mind. Set realistic short-term goals and stay the course. You will succeed. Give some or all of this a try. Keep what works for you and move forward in your quest for greatness. Remember to thank those who helped you along the way.

Chris Clark is a super heavy weight powerlifter from North Carolina. He has recorded a 970 lb squat, a 675 lb bench press, and a 733 lb deadlift. He won the 2006 WPC SHW open class in New York. He currently trains at Granite City Barbell with Travis Mash and Chris �Ox� Mason.

By Chris Clark


Copyright� 2007 Elite Fitness Systems. All rights reserved. 
You may reproduce this article by including this copyright  
and, if reproducing it electronically, including a link to  
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