T Nation

Squats With Chains


We have had a little discussion in the powerlifting club here, I started out with a typical 2-3 hour german powerlifting-routine, but before x-mas i switched to westside and have had a lot of fun training the WS-way the last 2-3 months. The topic is chains.. and squats with chains. They guys here argue that you'll never get up any weight that you can't get out of the hole, so why train harder on the top? what are the thoughts on this?


The idea with using chains or bands as accomadating resistance is to overload the points in the lift where you have the greatest leverage. Which in the powerlifts, is generally at the top.

When you set up the chains for squats, in the hole you will have virtually all of the chain on the floor, but as you come up weight is added by chain being picked up. You can also think of it this way: How much can you full squat? How much can you 1/4 squat? I am willing to bet you can move a lot more weight in the quarter squat.

This is because your strength curve is better at the top. This is why the Westside guy use this stuff. To add additional resistance at the points of the lift where you are the strongest.

As to your question about not getting the weight out of the hole, I would use the chains and bands on dynamic effort days at first using a lower percentage bar weight to get acclimated to the additional resistance. Good luck. By the way are you getting ready to watch Norway in the Olympics?



Well, I understand the reason for using bands/chains and I have read most of the westside articles I have come across, this was more of a competition-based question, since most of the guys at my local club seems to think that chains on the squat is a waste of time since more weight in the top half of the lift isn't very usefull since you would never get that weight out of the hole anyway.. if you know what i mean?

anyway: ofcourse I'm getting ready to see the olympics! ;D Heia norge!!!


The type of training where you load the barbell for the upper portion of the move is intended for those who use gear in competition.
The gear will help one in the lower portion of the movement the forcegradient training in the upper portion of the movement.


well i figure it would be just making the move equally hard thoughout the entire range of motion. As the same muscles are used at the top of the lift, it should just work these muscles more efficently for the same time and distance moved.

I guess you think it will strengthen you at the top of the lift but not at the bottom but i don't think muscles strengthen in different ways to work in different positions.


My understanding is that the chains and especially bands are to teach you to accelerate the bar and apply max force out of the bottom. If you don't apply maximum force off the box or out of the bottom the extra weight or tension will catch up to you and you wont finish the lift. You have to sort of outrun the weight.


I think that there is an article on here about accomodating resistance. If not, it will be at the Elite Fitness site. Like scottiscool was saying, the accomodating resistance idea is based around generating max power out of the bottom of the lift, and racing the weight and resistance to the top before it kicks your ass and makes you it's bitch.

The end result is you being able to power your way through a heavier lift with even better form since you are now able to push a LOT harder than before. There are some powerlifters here with a lot more experience than myself, and hopefully they will jump in with more clear advice.



The Westside training method was created around winning power lifting comps that dealt with the maximum amount of supportive gear allowed (IPA/WPO).

If you are wearing a double ply squat suit, a double ply pair of briefs under that, plus 3 meter long knee wraps, you will have a problem getting the weight into the hole.... then you have to have the finishing strength to lockout the weight once you rebound.

You will start to pick up alot of the barbell weight from the suit throughout the lift(just like the chain weight), depending on what type of gear you wear. The chains are a training aid for this, teaching you to move fast before you pick up the chain weight.

Basically what I am saying is train towards what your goals are. If your lifting RAW you will work different max effort and accessory exercises than you would if you compete with heavy supportive gear. Adjust the Westside program accordingly.


I lift without gear but still feel that bands can help. I've never gotten to try chains so I can't speak about them. If you do your squats with the bands but without a box it will help you train the bottom of the lift in two ways. 1: it will help you work on your reactive ability.

You'll have to respond quicker with the weight which will help potentiate your stretch reflex. 2: it will over load the eccentric so that you will have to learn to control the extra force driving you down with out always having to max out.

I agree that it may benefit the "geared" lifter a little more but I have seen great results with accomidating resistance.


I just saw this post. This post is perfect. The system is only as good as you can adjust it to the specific lifter. If you are RAW things will be different, obviously. I know all of the geared guys use the box for the squat but I think that the box is even more benefitial to the none geared lifter.

If you can squat it off a box you'll get it in a comp. Along that same note and at the risk of contradicting myself I would like to also add that if you are RAW then you need to make sure you don't always squat to a box. Squating is a skill that needs be practiced the way you will compete with it.

So you need to work both ways into your training to maximize it all while bringing up your weak points.


My understanding is that the chains and especially bands are to teach you to accelerate the bar and apply max force out of the bottom. If you don't apply maximum force off the box or out of the bottom the extra weight or tension will catch up to you and you wont finish the lift. You have to sort of outrun the weight.


Well, I don't use dobbel ply-gear, but i do use normal IPF-gear in competitions! A lot of good points here, I'll take your thoughts into consideration and try to find the article I obviously have missed.. :slight_smile:

thanks guys!


Bingo. That's why accommodating resistance is so helpful.

Overloading the lift as it progresses forces you to recruit more motor units out of the bottom (and throughout the whole lift) to overcome the accommodating resistance.

The same applies for a dynamic effort. To maintain the same rate of acceleration you're going to have to apply more force.