CHAINS FOR GAINS
Chains may look intimidating and they are in fact not easy to accomplish, but if done right the risk is worth the reward. Adding chains will affect the “intermuscular coordination” of your body because all of the stabilizers, neutralizers, agonists, and antagonists are forced to work together. They also act as a plateau buster by overloading the upper half of the strength curve. You need all of your muscles to work together in order to keep the bar and chains under control. I’m going to use bench press for this example to give you a visual of how chains impact your workout. With a traditional bench press, the hardest part of the movement is the bottom half range of motion. As you complete the lift during the concentric contraction, the movement becomes easier as you pass the mid-range point of the lift. Chains overload the mid and top quarter range of motion. At the bottom most of the chains linkage is on the ground, as you push up more linkage is off the ground making the lift heavier as you complete the lift. It also shows any weaknesses you may have from a structural balance standpoint.
What is great about using chains is that the curve can either elicit a straight or wobbly rep. If there is a straight path of the bar vertically, then you know that you are becoming stronger and more powerful, as well as getting more engagement from your muscle fibers. If you are wobbly in an exercise, it could mean one of two things: you either have an injury or you have an
imbalance somewhere. An imbalance will need to be addressed with structural balance exercises to correct your strength discrepancies.
What is the “Strength Curve?”
The theory of variable resistance is that exercise equipment should be designed to increase the resistance at the points at which the lifter is strongest. A strength curve is a mathematical model that represents how much force a muscle can produce at specific joint angles. There is a bottom range, mid-range and top range strength curve. Most trainees are familiar with the upper strength curve, which exists when you can display more force as you extend the joints. Exercises such as deadlifts, squats, bench presses and military presses have ascending strength curves. Using different body position and angles are great ways to overload various points of the strength curve. Being prone, standing, supine, or on an incline bench are all ways to overload the different strength curves. For example, when performing a prone dumbbell lateral raise, a lifter is strongest at the start of the movement and weakest at the end of the movement, which overloads the top range of the strength curve.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a
habit.” – Aristotle