Squat with Chains

Squat with Chains

This bro move isn’t just for looking cool in the gym, though it definitely does add to your intimidation factor. 

Though mostly utilized by powerlifters, anyone can benefit from using chains in their squats.

Why, you ask? 

It turns out that squatting with chains is an incredibly effective way to lift for a few reasons:

  • It improves the lifting speed, which allows you to lift greater amounts of weight. 
  • It provides instability which increases your need for balance and control.
  • It improves your squat technique because any lapse in form sends the chains jangling all over the place and forces you to correct it. It is like automatic feedback on the quality of your form.

History of the Squat

Powerlifting legend and trainer Louie Simmons introduced the idea of squatting with chains into the mainstream in the 1990s. He had been looking for a way to improve the lifting speed of his students in order to increase the amount of weight that they could lift, and squatting with chains provided an effective solution. 

Though the addition of chains is relatively new, the squat itself is much older. 

Having originated within bodybuilding circles throughout much of Europe during the dawn of World War I, the squat was originally referred to as the “deep knee bend.” Its execution involved holding one’s heels together and adding weight while squatting on the balls of the feet. This form has mostly stayed the same, even as new variations to the squat have been introduced.

Squat racks had not yet been invented, so that prevented early bodybuilders from being able to lift large amounts of weight. As a result, they tended to perform many repetitions with lighter weights. 

The first squatting competition in history was won by Carl Moerke, who squatted 529 lbs in Germany in 1919.

How to Perform a Squat with Chains

Step 1: Set up your squat rack with your desired amount of weight and loop the leader chain over the bar sleeves. Adjust the length so that a few links remain on the floor at the top of the lift.  Attach the heavy chain with a snap hook.

Step 2: Step under the bar so it lands across the back of your shoulders. Squeezing your shoulders together and bringing your elbows forward, attempt to bend the bar, forming it to the shoulders. 

Step 3: Maintaining a tight arch throughout the lower back, remove the bar and step back. Plant a wide stance as you engage your glutes, hams, adductors, and core. Focus on your muscles both individually and as an entire unit.

Step 4: Facing forward, push your glutes out as you bend from the knees and hips to descend into a squat. Continue the movement until the crease of your hip is in line with the top of your knee. 

Step 5: Drive through your heels, pushing out your feet and knees as you explode upward from the hips. Lead with your head until you reach your starting position again. 

Step 6: This is one rep. Repeat the process until your desired number of reps has been performed. 


  • Improves your bar speed
  • Provides instability
  • Improves balance and control
  • Increases core and trunk stability
  • Builds muscle strength increasing athletic performance
  • Enhances explosive firing power through the hip and legs 
  • Increases strength throughout the posterior chain
  • Boosts testosterone production
  • Increases functional fitness


  • Landmine Squat
  • Goblet Squat
  • Sumo Squat
  • Split Squat
  • Pistol Squat
  • Overhead Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Prisoner Squat
  • Bulgarian Split Squat

Squats Strengthen the Posterior Chain

Focusing primarily on the hamstrings, quads, and glutes, the squat is a compound strength training move that packs a powerful punch. It simultaneously succeeds in strengthening the tendons, ligaments, and joints throughout the lower body in the process. 

Squatting provides one of the most effective ways to increase strength and power throughout the entire posterior chain.

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