Chains are a great addition to your weight-training. The idea is that they rest on the floor at the bottom of an exercise, making it heavier at the top but lighter at the bottom. This is important because the top of a movement is often not developed by the same weights.
Gaining strength and power is very specific to the muscle length and the joint angle, so adding this additional weight to the top of the movement is great for building power in movements that require full extension of the joint (like a punch or jump).
What Do You Need from a Chain?
A chain for weight-training needs to have a few simple characteristics:
- It needs to be long enough to reach from a barbell to the floor.
- It needs to be heavy enough to make a difference to the weights being lifted.
- And it needs to have the right size links to make sure that it can be attached to a barbell safely.
When you’re buying, these 3 are necessary.
You can also look at the durability of the product – especially if you’re planning on storing it, or using it, outside. This makes surface and quality really important. However, it’s a heavy, metal chain so you’re probably not going to need to worry very much!
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1. RopeFit Steel Chain Pairs
The RopeFit steel chains are a great choice. They come in a wide range of sizes/weights, giving you the option to pick something that fits your strength and needs. They range from 20lbs to 60lbs, so they’re going to be suitable for beginners and intermediate athletes.
If you’re very experienced with strength training they may be too light, but you can always grab another pair as they take up very little space on the bar. Stacking different sets of chains is an easy way to deal with this problem if you have the strength and cash to invest.
The lead chain that is included with the RopeFit chains is a great feature. It makes attaching them to the barbell very easy, which is something that other products have struggled with. They provide a level of versatility and adaptability that is crucial for getting the most out of the chains – they’re useful for a wide variety of exercises, so this is key.
The length of these chains is probably a bit excessive. At 7’, they’re going to be resting on the floor from the start of the lift. This makes the weight at the top of the movement a bit unpredictable which isn’t what we’re looking for.
If you’re going to use these, we recommend feeding the lead chains through the larger chain to make sure the weight comes off of the floor at the top of the movement.
2. Titan 6-foot Heavy Chains
These are similar to the RopeFit chains but they’re shorter (a positive thing) and they come with far less range. In fact, the Titan chains are only sold in pairs of 63lbs. This is the heaviest option for the RopeFit range, so this definitely isn’t for the beginner (but neither is chain-weighted exercise).
The shorter length means less fiddling around, but you will still need to elevate them off the floor as they’re likely to stack on the floor during the top portion of the lift. This isn’t as severe as the RopeFit model, however.
There’s a lack of galvanisation on these chains, too, when compared to the RopeFit models. We’re not sure when this would be a problem if you’re keeping them in a safe home gym, but this can be a problem if you don’t have the right safety and storage situation. If you’re keeping them in an outhouse or garage, this could be a problem – but only after years of use!
Titan’s chains are hardcore – they’re good quality and well-respected in the industry. The customer service is often marred by delivery problems (this will happen when you try and mail nearly 65lbs of steel), but the customer satisfaction policy has been consistently-excellent according to reviews.
3. Ader Fitness Weight Lifting Chain Set
The Ader fitness chains come in 3 sizes: 30, 44 and 60lbs. These are the most common sizes for chains and we think this is a great choice to have. 23lbs chains are too light and would only make sense for the smallest female powerlifters, while the 33-60lbs chain sets are going to be useful for all but the most advanced athletes.
With an oxide finish, they look awesome and are incredibly resistant to rust and other problems that are common with unfinished steel chains. Again, this is only likely to show after years, but if you want to buy heavy chains you are expecting them to last!
They’re also only 5’-5.5’ long which makes them far more manageable than either of the other brands discussed so far. This is still likely to be too much for very short athletes and many female athletes, but it is a much better start than a 6-7’ chain.
The real selling point for this chain, however, is the barbell pressure cuff. This is basically the attachment that allows it to be slid onto the barbell just like a plate or regular collar, attaching without any risk of movement or difficulty when putting it on the bar or performing movements. This is a new feature for this list, and it makes a real difference to the convenience of the product.
Between the cool finish, ideal length, and effective fastening mechanism we’re big fans of the Ader chains. These are definitely the most practically-useful so far and they set themselves apart based on actual usability.
4. Advantage Rigging Chain Package
This chain package is similar to the RopeFit chains with carabiners for attachment, and some heavy chains to provide a combined 65lbs of resistance. This makes them heavy compared to many others on this list, which can be great for advanced lifters but may prove too much for the less-experienced.
The problem with this product is that it will be far too long for effective use – with a 6’ attachment and a 5’ weighty chain, you’re looking at a minimum of 8’ of chain. This is going to rest on the floor at the top of any lift, unless you feel like getting creative with 65lbs of chains! We can’t understand this choice of length – it makes the product far less useful than a shorter, simpler piece.
The length and style of the attachment chains is another concern. Advantage rigging claim that this is better than a cuff attachment – or that they’re overpriced – but this is one of the more expensive items on this list and it doesn’t provide any greater convenience than the collared alternative.
With that said, reviews for this product are consistently great. They maintain a 5* rating for build quality and usability. The problem here is that they simply won’t be getting the most out of a chain if it rests on the floor, but it speaks to the quality of customer service and the heavy-duty build of the product. While it might take some ingenuity, this is definitely a great build-quality product.
5. Valor Fitness LC-53 Lifting Chains
These are the final chain we’re going to cover. They’re also a good compromise and a good challenger to the Ader chains.
The valor chain comes in at 53lbs for the pair, making it a versatile option between the heavy and light chains produced by Ader and RopeFit. The 44-60lbs jump in Ader’s range can be too much for those who are developing intermediate lifters. The valor fitness chain can provide a good mid-ground and has some cool features.
To start with, it’s a 5.5’ chain just like the Ader fitness’ chains. This makes it more suitable for anyone under 6’4. Considering that most people fit into this category, it’s off to a good start. Including the locking mechanism, Valor’s chain is an effective length and won’t rest on the floor too much at the top of a squat.
The finish is regular solid steel. As mentioned above, this is a galvanized steel similar to RopeFit or Ader. So, it isn’t likely to present a problem in the next decade unless you’re putting it in storage incorrectly. With a unique weight and high-quality, galvanized steel, the durability and effectiveness of the Valor chain aren’t up for dispute.
The fastening mechanism is the same as the Ader chains: it provides an easy-use pressure collar so that you can directly attach the chains to the barbell without the rotation, slack or awkward size of other lengths of chain. If anything, it seems to be designed to fill a gap in the Ader range and provide comparable features at a weight they simply don’t offer.
The only real problem we’ve seen with the Valor chains is that their customer service is occasionally lacking. Several reviews out there are suggesting that they receive a set of chains without the locking mechanism. This is obviously a concern as it renders the chains totally useless for strength training – and was one of the big benefits of the product in the first place.
Conclusion: What Do We Recommend?
Our favorite chain from this list is the Ader. Their products are hot-dipped in an oxide material that provides protection from the elements and reduces rust/corrosion. This is key because, when you buy a pair of weight-training chains, you probably don’t ever want to replace them. With this type of build quality, you can make that decision without worrying.
Where this brand really wins out, however, is the selection of weights and the reliable inclusion of an effective fastening mechanism. This cuts out all the excess length seen in the RopeFit and Titan models, as well as making sure there’s no unpredictable movement on the barbell. The fact that they’re actually in the box wins them points over Valor fitness and their shocking delivery reputation!
Overall, these chains tick all the right boxes for the intermediate strength athlete. They provide a variety of resistances, are easy to use, and have great durability. If you’re looking for a set of chains that does the job well, without fuss or inconvenience, and is likely to last about as long as you do, Ader’s chain is a good choice.