Using chains adds another dimension of resistance by prolonging the time under tension and upping the effort needed to complete the move. If you are using chains in addition to a barbell, aim for ones that weigh 10 to 15 per cent of your main resistance’s weight, according to bodybuilding.com.
1Barbell Deadlift with Chains
Start: Grasp a barbell loaded with chains on the floor using an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and stand as closely to it as you can. Keep your head up and your back straight at about a 45-degree angle from the floor; inhale deeply.
Execution: Using your arms strictly as meat hooks (that is, no bending of the elbows), press your legs into the floor aggressively and exhale on the ascent. Raise the weight using your legs and back to the point where your upper body is erect and you’re standing fully upright. Hold the weight for one second, then slowly lower it down to the start position.
Tip: Deadlifts for high reps are quite a challenge; when you begin to lose steam, your energy will be gone quickly, so pace yourself with slow, deliberate reps — and don’t drop the bar on the floor violently like a Neanderthal.
Start: Sit comfortably in the apparatus facing the weight stack and grasp the handles with an overhand or neutral grip. Your legs should be at 90 degrees, tucked securely under the pads. Keep your back straight and take a big breath.
Execution: Using force from your lats, pull the handles downward, keeping your back as straight as you can. Stop the motion when your hands are about at the height of your clavicle and hold for a half-second before returning to the top position.
Tip: Unless you’re deliberately cheating, avoid the temptation to lean backward for momentum on the descent — this will diminish the isolation and weaken the resistance.
Start: Face the apparatus standing upright at a distance where you can comfortably reach the bar in the top position using a wide, overhand grip. Bend your knees very slightly for stability and inhale.
Execution: Keeping all other body parts motionless, pull the bar down and toward you using force from your lats. The bar should come to rest at about your thigh level. Hold for a half-second to break the momentum of the cable before returning the bar to the top position.
Tip: As the bar descends, keep your torso erect without falling forward and using your body weight to cheat gravity.
4Pull-Up with Belt and Chains
Start: Wearing a belt with chains attached, approach the bar and grasp it using a wide, overhand grip. Keep your head positioned forward and don’t look up at the bar. Curl your calves in toward your hamstrings so they form 90-degree angles for stability, and inhale.
Execution: Using force from your lats, pull yourself upward until your nose is at the height of the bar, exhaling steadily on the ascent. Hold at the top for one second and then lower yourself in a deliberate fashion to the bottom.
Tip: Don’t allow your elbows to flare outward during the ascent. Keeping them tucked to your sides establishes a better position for power.
5One-Arm Cable Row
Start: Stand as far away from the apparatus such that when you grasp the D-handle with your arm fully extended, the handle is about the height of your knees (which will be bent slightly). Place your other hand on your thigh for stability. Keep your line of vision parallel to the ground, not looking down at the cable.
Execution: Pull the handle diagonally away from its start position toward your lower chest until your arm forms a 90-degree angle. Your upper arm may travel slightly beyond the plane of your torso. Hold at the top position for a half-second, then slowly extend your arm back to the start.
Tip: Since you’re standing, it’s easy to cheat accidentally by leaning back during the pull. Avoid doing this, as you’ll want to isolate your back muscles more efficiently. Begin with a lighter weight if necessary.
6One-Arm Plate-Loaded Machine Row
Start: Set the pad so that your arm can be fully extended when holding the handle but not over-reaching. Position yourself in the apparatus with your chest against the pad and your legs tucked under for stability. Grasp the handle with just one hand using a neutral grip; inhale.
Execution: Pull the handle toward you, keeping all other body parts still and your back straight. The full range of motion is achieved when you bring the handles only inches in front of your chest. Hold momentarily to increase the time under tension and bring the handle slowly back to the start position. When your set is through, switch sides and repeat.
Tip: The use of the pad makes it easy to tell if you’re cheating. If your chest breaks contact with the pad, you’re leaning backward whether you mean to or not. Use a suitable weight here so that you don’t cheat.
7Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press
Start: Grasp a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip and sit tall in the chair. Keep your back straight against the pad and your feet stable on the floor. Bring the dumbbells up to the height of about your chin with your forearms perpendicular to the ground.
Execution: Press the dumbbells directly overhead until your arms are fully extended but not completely locked out. Hold at the top position for a half-second, then lower the weights back to the start.
Tip: Avoid using excessively heavy weights that cause you to arch your back and turn this into an incline press. Remember that shoulders are very responsive when isolated properly.
8Barbell Upright Row with Chains
Start: Grasp the bar with an overhand grip at a width slightly narrower than your shoulders. Keep your body stable and avoid any superfluous pressing action from your legs by bending your knees slightly. Keep your head facing straight and level.
Execution: Leading with your elbows, raise the bar in a rowing motion directly upward until it reaches the level of your collarbone. Hold the bar at the top position for a one count, then lower it slowly down to the start. Throughout the move, keep all other body parts motionless.
Tip: The motion of the bar should be in a plane immediately in front of you; don’t reach out or extend your arms forward and away from your body.
9Alternating Overhead Raise with Chains
Start: Hold a lengthy chain in each hand at your sides and stand upright with a very slight bend in your knees. Use a pronated grip so that your palms face away from you and keep your elbows just slightly unlocked.
Execution: Raise your right arm upward to the point where the chain is hanging over your head; this is a 180-degree circular motion. Hold at the top for a split-second, then lower back to the start. Repeat this action with your left arm; this constitutes one rep.
Tip: A great variation of this move is to go slowly on the ascent and really feel the added resistance of the chains for more efficient time under tension.
10One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise
Start: Stand beside the cable station at a distance from the stack such that you don’t have to over-reach with your working hand. If the stack is on your right, you’ll grasp the handle with your left hand (and vice versa) with the cable extending across and in front of you. Bend your knees slightly for stability.
Execution: Using a “back-handed” motion, raise the handle by extending your arm away from your body to a point where it is just above shoulder height. Pause for a half-second, then lower the handle down to where you began. Keep all other muscle groups still during the motion.
Tip: The cable station is almost always positioned in front of a mirror. Use it to help you ensure that you enlist a full range of motion without having to turn your head, which should be fixed facing forward.
11Cable Crossover Rear-Delt Flye
Start: Set the handles to the lowest positions on the universal machine and stand] in the middle. Bend forward from the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor. Grasp the handles — the left side in your right hand and the right in your left — with a neutral grip and bend your knees slightly. Keep your head in line with your torso and inhale sharply.
Execution: Using force from your rear delts, extend the cables up and away from your core, exhaling during the motion. Stop when your arms become parallel to the floor (you wouldn’t be able to go much farther anyway), hold for a half-second, then lower the handles back to the start position.
Tip: Keep a slight bend in your elbows during this move as you would if you were performing a dumbbell rear-delt flye.