How To Use Chains For Low Bar Squats

Legs 3 min Read

Written by

Keith Hansen

There are two ways to use chains for low bar squats.

One way is to perform chain suspended low bar squats.

The other way and the way I will teach you in this article is to use chains for variable resistance.

When used correctly, chains create a variable loading element in your low bar squats. The squat is heavier at the top, and lighter at the bottom. This is because as you descend into the squat a correctly assembled chain setup will pile up onto the ground so that weight is no longer being supported by your bar. As you rise the links leave the ground and once again are suspended by your barbell making it heavier.


Chain Resisted Low Bar Squat

I’ve seen more incorrect chain setups than correct ones. Incorrect chain setups use one size of chain and it is hung from the bar in a straight line.

The effect of this setup is that only a small percentage of the total weight of the chain is removed in the bottom of the squat, and nearly negates the entire idea of accommodating resistance.

The correct setup uses a small (light) gauge of chain to suspend a much larger (heavy) gauge of chain at the bottom. When everything is set up correctly the entire weight of the large chain should be removed from the bar and supported by the ground in the hole, and then quickly add back to the weight of the bar as one rises. See the image above for reference.

You can build your own chain kit from the home improvement store with carabiners (get steel), 1/4″ chain (two 4 foot lengths), and pairs of 1/2″ or larger lengths (4 feet long as well), but I recommend just buying a chain kit. It is close to the same price, and you know the equipment they’ve included is meant for this purpose. Here is a link to Rogue’s kit, and even if you decide to build your own kit you can use their specifications & pictures for reference.


Chain Set Up for Squats

To set up your chains first link the lighter chain over the ends of your bar after putting plates on. Next, you need to link your heavy gauge chain to the bottom of your light chain, and typically it should be linked by the middle of the large chain so both ends touch the ground.

You will most likely need to adjust the height, but it’s correct when the ends of the heavy chain brush the ground at the top of your squat and are completely supported by the ground at the bottom.

Watch the video below to see it in action.


The benefit

The single largest benefit of using chains for low bar squats for the average lifter is that it simply provides a novel way to train.

I know this isn’t exciting, and you probably want to hear me use words like stability, bar speed, and core strength, but in reality, nothing will beat great low bar squats for improving strength, adding mass, and developing great technique.

Strength training is something you will do for the rest of your life, and adding chains to the squat is a great way to spice it up.

After spicing up your training with chain resisted squats, change up your normal programming with The Seriously Strong Advanced Program. As I mentioned, nothing beats low bar squats for improving strength, adding mass, and developing technique. Our free advanced program will have you pushing your squats to new levels and new PRs. Check out the advanced program by clicking the link below:

Download The Seriously Strong Advanced Program

Visit The Serious Guide to the Low Bar Squat for more information on the low bar squat.

Keith Hansen

Keith was an All-State wrestler in high school and in 2007 hung up his singlet to attend Florida State University to pursue a B.S. in business management. He wasn't sure what industry he wanted to be involved in at the time, but soon realized after graduating in 2011 that fitness was the ever-constant activity in his life. Keith began studying to become a personal trainer and in 2013 earned the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Personal Trainer certification. After a short stint as a big box gym trainer he realized he wanted to bring something different to Tallahassee. Keith competes in Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, and Crossfit.