Here at VerticalJumping.com you will often hear us talk about the many advantages of using accommodating resistance in your training to help develop explosive strength,power, and to ultimately jump higher.
Mostly we have focused on the use of bands through either the heavier resistance bands used for squatting and deadlifting.
However, there is another popular way to add accommodating resistance to your workouts and that is through the use of chain training. The way the chains work is that you loop them over the ends of the bar and when you are at the bottom of the lift (i.e. the weakest position), some of the chains are actually resting on the floor.
This has the effect of reducing the load you are pushing against at the weakest portion of the lift, and as you come back up, the amount of chain resting on the floor decreases, thus increasing the load you are actually lifting.
From a vertical jump development point of view chain training has 2 obvious benefits. The first is that due to the way the load increases as you get closer to the top you are forced to focus on exploding (accelerating) out of the bottom in order to overcome the ever increasing resistance. If you just raise yourself slowly in a controlled manner into the concentric you will find it much more difficult to complete the rep.
The second benefit is that it also allows you user heavier loads in the top half of the lift which develops strength in the range of motion in which you actually need it without being limited by load you can move at the weakest point of the lift (the bottom).
The big difference between the bands that you traditionally might use in the weight room and chain training is that bands try to force you down at a faster rate than gravity. This is due to the bands elastic properties actively contracting against the stretch, where as chains do not have those same elastic properties.
As a result of this bands place a much higher amount of eccentric stress on your body which can increase the amount of soreness you will experience from using them. I should quickly point out that the eccentric stress I am referring to here from the bands is when you attach them to the bottom of the rack, not at the top as is the case with the lightened method.
The other difference between chains and bands is that due to the way that chains tend to move around they increase the level of instability which forces you to work harder to balance the bar. This will help strengthen your core and improve your balance.
One other things about chain training that you might want to consider but will have zero impact to your results - it looks really cool.
Practicing What I Preach: Here is one of my heavier chain training efforts.
Chains can be used for most weighted exercises including all squat and most deadlift variations, plus other exercises such as good mornings, step ups, split squats and lunges.. You can use them with heavier weights to develop maximal strength, or you can use them with lighter loads to develop explosive strength.
Usually with chain training the reps are kept low and the set numbers high. For example at Westside Barbell they typically perform 8-12 sets of 2 reps using 60-65% of their maximum squat + the weight of the chains. The lower reps help facilitate greater intensities per rep.
You can also use chains to add resistance to bodyweight exercises such as chins, dips, push ups, hindu squats etc and are often used instead of weight vests.
Not Just For Lower Body: Chains can be used to develop upper body strength too.
Personally I would rather the weight vest for this though as it is a bit more comfortable to train with, plus you can also use a weight vest for jumping drills which chains are not that conducive for as they tend to cut into you if you jump with them.
Did you know the fastest way to improve your vertical jump is to focus your training on your weaknesses. That might be strength, it might be speed, or it might be technique. The challenge is that each person not only has different weaknesses, but those weaknesses will change over time.
So what do you do? Well you can hire a trainer to assess you and prepare your program (at great $$$ cost). Or we can do it for you for just $10. Yes that is correct. Our vertical jump coaching service includes an assessment of your strengths and weaknesses and fully customized jump training plans to make sure your efforts are providing the best results.
If you are looking to improve your vertical jump quickly than go no further than clicking the jump coaching link or the image below.
While there are a lot of very successful coaches such as Joe DeFranco who regularly use bands and chains in their programs there are some coaches who argue that there is no need for them as long as you are performing plyometrics and other more specific power activities.
So which coaches are right? Both actually! Like most of the training methods discussed on this site using chains as a means of adding accommodating resistance should be considered as a training tool you can use to help break a plateau, to help improve your acceleration and explosive strength, or just to keep things interesting.
However, for every coach such as Joe DeFranco or Louis Simmons who has had tremendous success developing the vertical jumps of their athletes utilizing chains, you will find plenty of others who have also achieved amazing results without them.
Training with chains is already a popular method for developing explosive strength, power, and of course the vertical jump of athletes across a wide variety of sports at many different levels.
If you are lucky enough to have chains at your disposal then by all means try adding them into your vertical jump program. They might be just the thing you need to take your hops to the next level.
If you don’t have access to chains though, don’t worry. Like bands, weight vests, power jumpers, and some of the other useful training tools discussed on this site, you can still make great gains without them.
For example, the jump training workouts created for my vertical jump coaching customers do not require access to any of the above mentioned items and yet I have had reports back from users who have gained as much as 8 inches on their running vertical from their first cycle of the program.
This however just goes to show that on order to achieve maximum results from your vertical jump program the best way is always to identify your areas of weaknesses, and focus your efforts on those. There is nothing wrong with making it a bit more fun along the way and chain training can certainly add that.