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.)
 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
setup 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.
 Chain squats can be used to create a speed or strength phase for
implementation on dynamic or max effort day as follows:
Using the setup 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
 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 shortterm 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
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