Top 10 Chains for Weightlifting Reviewed and Rated
We don't know about you, but from where we stand, nothing says "lifting is my life" quite like wrapping chains around your shoulders while you work out.
And since you're here, we assume you are ready to join that group. We can help. But first-why chains? What's wrong with dumbbells and barbells?
It turns out that chains can match the arc of resistance with the natural arc of your muscle as it moves the resistance. This is true of body weight exercises as well as weight training. Chains across your shoulders, during bar dips, will keep the resistance consistent. It will keep you exerting your muscles longer, leading to greater gains. Finally, the chains make any exercise more intense.
Chains are not for everyone. But if you are an aspiring powerlifter or just want to revamp your old routine, they will help. Here are our favorites.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 20 hours of research
Hot dip galvanized for strength
Backed by Ropefit quality
Custom lengths available
Comes in two different thicknesses
Best 10 Chains for Weightlifting
1. RopeFit Steel
Hot dip galvanized for strength
Backed by Ropefit quality
Custom lengths available
Comes in two different thicknesses
Ropefit does not believe in providing clamping collars
This means you can rely on Ropefit for your lifting chains. This flagship one is galvanized via hot dip. This means each chain is immersed in molten zinc at temperatures of over 800 degrees. The result is a rust and corrosion resistant chain that will look and feel fresh after 10 reps or 10,000. You can even use these chains outside, perhaps for your own DIY strongman contest in the woods.
Of course, the chains work just fine for a normal trip to the gym, too. When you buy from Ropefit, you get two smaller chains for free. They are four feet long. Their purpose is to intertwine with the main chains and hang from your barbell to add resistance.
The Ropefit chain comes in your choice of 1/2" or 5/8" steel thickness, with lengths from five to seven feet. You can also order custom lengths. Each length is a different resistance, and they come in pairs for use with a bar.
2. Valor Fitness LC-53 Steel
Includes clamping collars
Collars are easy to remove
Galvanized chain, chrome plated collars
Comes with a five-year warranty
Check for burrs and flakes before first use!
It's true that all chains have a similar look to them, but we have to say Valor Fitness manages to make theirs aesthetically pleasing and even stylish. They're the perfect accessory for any barbell and weight plate combo.Read more
The chains are galvanized, but Valor does not say if they are zinc hot dipped or not. Either way, the result is a chain with links that are clean and smooth, but not too shiny. The galvanization protects from rust and moisture.
Also in contrast to Ropefit, Valor has provided collars of 12-gauge steel. The collar fits tight around any Olympic bar to prevent slippage. They also hold the chains steady, so you don't get shifting, chafing, or tears in your gym shirt. The collar locks with an easy and fast pin twist.
You also have the option of taking the whole collar off to add more chains. As long as the chain is rated to whatever weight you are lifting, it does not have to be Valor brand chain. The chains come in sets of two, with a total weight of 53 pounds. Collars and pins come with. Valor also offers a beefy 5-year warranty on their chains.
3. Ader Fitness Steel
Easy to use T screws for clamps
Comes in three different weights
Forged, zinc coated steel
Attractive and protective black finish
Be aware of the oil when you unbox-goes on thick
This is a simple and straightforward product that does one thing and does it well--it makes your workouts harder and more efficient by matching resistance movement to muscle movement.Read more
The steel in these twin chainsets is forged, and heavy duty. We hear that word "forged" a lot, with lifting chains and with other steel products, too. It means the steel is composed of iron and carbon. They are bonded together at a high temperature and pressure in a foundry, making them ultra strong and long-lasting. This is the pedigree carried by the Ader Fitness chains and any chain that the manufacturer touts as being forged.
The finish on the chains is black oxide. The coating inhibits rust and corrosion, fights moisture, imparts a slick finish, and also lessens the reflection of light off the chains. That last detail sounds almost like an afterthought, but you'll be happy for it when the sun beats down on you during your back alley strongman contest with friends.
The finish is also nontoxic. After finishing, the chains are dipped in oil which adds to the durability without adding greasiness or slickness. The pairs come in 30, 44, and 60 pound total sets. The collars use a finger-friendly T knob to twist and grab hold of your barbell.
4. Advantage Rigging
Company has years of rigging experience
Hooks/carabiners can add efficiency versus collars
Comes with leader chains to drape on the floor
5/8" links are good for CrossFit-can be handled quickly
Zero extra features or frills
Advantage Rigging is not a fitness company. They provide all manner of rope, chain, straps, hoists and other lifting/securing equipment to a variety of industries.Read more
Lucky for us, Advantage decided to turn its knowledge and skill set towards the fitness industry by providing these CrossFit friendly 5/8" chains. Since they are a bit of an oddball, the chains are quite reasonably priced while still providing excellent value.
Powerlifting and CrossFit, in fact, are both in the Amazon description. The chains, combined, weight 42.6 pounds. This is your shipping weight. The twins are five feet long with two extra 6 foot lengths of leaderchain. What's leaderchain? According to our research, you can use it to drag more or less length of chain on the ground to adjust resistance.
This also means the chains are customizable, according to your height. Instead of collars, Advantage gives you hook and carabiner assemblies to secure the chains to the bar. According to Advantage, collars keep the chain affixed in one place and don't compensate for different body types and levels of strength.
5. TAP Lifting
Chains are durable, with a galvanized coating
Includes clamping collars
Simple to utilize
Chains are five feet long, plenty for most users
Very little additional information
These chains, with heavy-duty steel construction, also come with collars for the barbell. They are simple and straightforward, sold in sets of two like most other chains we uncovered.Read more
The simplicity of this product actually makes it a bit hard to describe. Like the Advantage Rigging chains, TAP offers these at a reasonable price. The chains are five feet long each, with an individual weight of 26.4 pounds. At least one reviewer says they found it less expensive to buy the TAP set, rather than going to a hardware store with weightlifting approved collars.
One thing we noticed is that TAP really wants you to purchase their additional connection chain. Bizarrely, we were unable to find a separate TAP website for more information. The connection chains sound like another name for leader chain--meant to hang from the bar, dragging on the floor for extra controlled resistance during deadlifts or squats.
After our research, we are confident saying that the leader chain is effective but not absolutely necessary. In fact, if you have two sturdy benches, or a kitchen table and countertop, you can do basic dips using the chains to add extra bodyweight. You will still get an efficient enhanced workout.
6. PR Lifting Chains
Comes with screw-on collars
Offers close to zero momentum
Five foot long 3/4" link chain
The chain pairs are expensive
These chains are made from 3/4" links and include chrome coated clamping collars. Together, the chain pairs weigh 52 pounds, with an additional 8 pounds because of the clamps.Read more
PR's big bragging point is that their chains bring you as close as possible to zero momentum. What this means is that the extra weight and burden ensure that you and your muscles, not the speed of moving the load, are doing all the work. This makes each rep much more efficient and leads to more micro-tearing of your muscle fibers so you can grow while those tears heal on recovery days.
Each chain is five feet long, which appears to be the standard for lifting chains throughout the industry. The links are welded, and reviewers indicated there could be sharp burrs or protrusions on the weld joint. You will want to put on some work gloves and give the chain a once over before using it for the first time.
As far as we can tell, PR no longer manufactures these chains. PR is a mostly regional supplier, operating in the Pacific Northwest. PR does still have free weights, wall balls, resistance straps, and an array of conditioning gear as well as lifting accessories. You can get a dip belt, with a chain, from PR; more on these belts later in the buying guide.
7. U9 Functional Fitness Chain
Short and easy to handle
Color coded by weight
Great for extra dumbbell resistance
Protective rubber keeps metal whole
Rubber coating may crack/peel under intense use
It doesn't get much simpler or easier to use than this blue rubberized chain made from a metal rod. Metal rod is durable but does not have the same corrosion resistance as dipped steel.Read more
That lack of coating, and also the fact that metal is not forged, is the reason for that rubber coating. We'd be worried that the rubber will peel or c
rack over time, so we don't suggest constant hard use for this chain. It is better suited to a utility chain, one to use in between more strenuous workouts.
That is why U9 promotes is chain as being good for almost infinite exercises. It is short enough to attach to your barbell when you stand up or sit on the bench and do curls, flys, overhead presses or whatever other dumbbell moves you can think of. Although the blue was the first one we saw, this chain comes in four different colors. Each one corresponds to a different weight, so you can purchase the U9 chain from 6 up to 18 pounds.
Buying these as a set and letting yourself grow to move up the weight table is a cool idea, one that has built-in rewards. The only problem is the expense--a single chain costs $99 USD.
8. DMoose Head/Neck Harness
Padded harness and band
Solid steel D rings secure chains to harness sides
Easily develop your overlooked muscle groups
Comes in cool colors
Giant DMoose logo on headband a bit much
Lifting chains are not quite in "seen one, seen them all" territory, but reviewing them does get repetitive after a while. For our final three reviews, we went with liftingchains you can wear as well as one that will appeal to your sense of DIY adventure.Read more
First up, we have the DMoose head/neck chain harness. Now, we realize necks and chains are things that normally don't go together. We can assure you that the thin metal chain is separated from the whole head area by a soft neoprene saddle with a DMoose logo padded headband.
You may already know that wrestlers use neck harnesses to strengthen the muscles that may aid them in keeping their heads up, including their thick padded helmets, throughout a long match. However, you can also build up your trapezius (top of shoulder) muscles to get a more balanced physique and improve your functional fitness. You don't need a huge tree trunk neck, but it never hurts to have that extra strength in case of an accident or unforeseen event. A toned neck will even help with proper form during squats and many other standing lifts.
The DMoose harness lets you hang a weight plate down to chest level so you can lift it with your neck muscles. The plate hangs and moves freely, to keep you from locking your neck down in a rigid position. The band and cowl are padded for comfort. Double stitching increases the working strength of the harness as well as increasing durability. The strap is adjustable for all sizes of noggin, and the chains attach up top with stainless steel D rings so your resistance isn't going anywhere and will not put a strain on your temple areas.
9. Rim Sports Chain Belt
Long chain for free movement
Cotton belt with back support
Heavy-duty carabiner and loop
Chain adds only minimal resistance
This is like the DMoose, but for your abdominal area instead of your head and neck.Read more
At under thirty dollars, the belt is a cost-effective way to add intensity and resistance to your dips, pull-ups, and even squats, though we recommend only using it for bodyweight squats. If you add weight to your midsection while pushing up a loaded barbell, you may sustain a back injury.
The belt uses a fixed loop on one end of the chain and a carabiner on the other. You can slide the chain through the center hole of any weight plate. The weight is free to move, but will not cause injury since the chain hangs low, to the tops of your calves if you are of average height. The belt itself is cotton, for comfort and breathability. Cotton is also quite flexible and offers superior grip.
Double machine stitching means the belt is durable and will not fray or tear. Threads are nylon, a synthetic thread known for its elasticity and toughness. The chain is 34" long and the belt has a back, almost exactly like a back brace, that conforms to human curves for comfort during long term wear.
10. Koch A01161 Proof Coil Chain
Easily the most affordable option
DIY projects = sense of accomplishment
Electroplated galvanized coating
Not made for much human contact, so, check weld joints for burrs
Earlier we reviewed a lifting chain from a company that doesn't usually deal in fitness equipment. That company was Advantage Rigging. For our last but not least entry, we've gone with a chain we can't even pretend is built for lifting.Read more
That's okay, though, because our goal is to show you that you can adapt any commercial quality chain into a lifting chain with a bit of effort. While you can't build your own Smith machine out of scrap metal, there are many simple low-cost projects you can make that will round out your arsenal of training equipment.
Koch makes all sizes of chain, but we went with the 3/16" links and 20-foot length. You can't order custom lengths online, but you can take your new purchase to Home Depot or a similar store and have the workers cut you four-five foot sections or any other length you want to experiment with. That's the beauty of DIY. You can adapt to any body shape or height since five feet of chain are not ideal for every lifter.
If you're handy, too, you can always throw on your gloves and eye protection and use a hacksaw or reciprocating saw to eliminate a hardware store trip. You will want to use the finest grade of blade that can still cut steel if you do your own measuring and cutting.
Koch's chains are galvanized with electroplating. Watch out for weld joints, like usual. The maximum load of this one is 800 pounds, again making it useful for your imaginary strongman Olympics. Once you get the length you want, just add either collars or carabiners and you're in business.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
We usually don't get hung up on brand names, but this review is a bit different.
Lifting chains, for non-competitive athletes, are a fairly new development. Not every fitness company has had the time and resources to either manufacture their own chains or source them from a qualified distributor. There is always a possibility that companies will jump on the chain bandwagon, pushing out an inferior product that will quickly let you down.
Valor Fitness, Ropefit, DMoose, and most of the others in our guide, are not wildcards. Each maker has a track record we were able to verify. We fully believe that no shortcuts have been taken in the making of these lifting chains.
Most chains are not designed for human hands to hold.
At least, not to the extent that you will be handling most of these lifting chains. Usually, a chain is a securing device or a link between a lifting machine and its too-heavy-for-humans commercial or industrial load. In the gym, though, the chain has to wrap around your body (dips) or hang from the bar of a weight plate loaded barbell (lifting). This means the chains have to be free of burrs, imperfections, welding joint buildup, or anything else that can damage your hands or the gym floor.
Many pieces of fitness gear will wear out, but there's no excuse for a chain not to be practically immortal.
That's why we made sure the chains we offer are galvanized, forged, assembled, and coated with materials that will block out rust, corrosion, and moisture. At least one of them comes covered in oil, for that extra humidity blocker and lubrication. They are all added features put in place by conscientious manufacturers. You can put your own oil on some of these chains (more on that later), but for the most part, you should not have to. Considering that even a low end lifting chain will set you back more than a general use chain, you have every right to expect something that can serve you faithfully and with no downtime.
There aren't many things that can go wrong on a simple chain, but rust is a big one. That's why materials are so important. All the ones on this list are made of steel. Most are made of forged steel, a blend of iron and carbon treated with heat and pressure to make a lasting bond. A few are hot-dipped, for galvanization, and at least one chain has electroplating. Even the smaller chains on the DMoose harness and Rimsport belt are treated in postproduction to make them sound. Coatings are important, and good materials are the building blocks that work together with their coating to give you an efficient experience.
A good chain will protect itself while also protecting you.
Protection goes hand in hand with materials, but we felt it was worthy of being its own criteria. The coatings we discussed are in place both to preserve the steel links and to prevent you from being injured or having the product fail. If you do dips, the steel on the chain will be quite close to your skin, even on your skin if you work out in tank tops. For these reasons, we examined the protections put in place by the makers of each chain.
Protection also includes the collars, carabiners, hooks, and eyelet loops used to secure the chain to itself or to the bar. Occasionally these fastening devices may even have to hold a weight, so you definitely want them rated and tested to where they need to be.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
How can a chain, regardless of weight, add progressive resistance? The chain will weigh the same every time you use it. It isn't like a barbell that you can add plates to or remove plates from.
The answer also explains why the typical chain for lifting is five feet. It is enough length for almost anyone to leave a good bit of it on the floor. As you lift, the chain moves along with both the curve of your muscles and the curve of the movement or rep. They encourage form, and every link you get off the floor adds a substantial bit of resistance.
Although lifting chains have a few accouterments to make them suited for our use, a chain is still a chain. The safety guidelines we would observe for a tow chain are close to, if not identical, those we should keep in mind when using chains for lifting.
For one thing, never expose the chain to more weight than it can handle. This isn't guesswork. Chains that come with harnesses or belts will have a safety rating. Also, the weight restriction is there to protect both you and the chain from damage.
Inspect your chains, on a periodic basis, for scratches, damage to the finish, visible weak spots, and, of course, rust and corrosion. Ours are all treated to stop rust, but it still never hurts to look.
Before attaching a chain to a weight or draping it over a body, look for kinks. Most lifting chains are big enough that kinks will be easy to spot. Usually, you can straighten out a kink by pulling on both sides of it. Never try to fix a weird link by hitting it with a hammer.
Store your chains on racks. A closet rod is ideal if the rod is rated for that much weight. You could also use an eyehook attached to a rafter in a ceiling. Sometimes you see bicycles being stored this way. A squat rack, smith machine, cage, multigym or weight storage rack can also double as chain storage. The main requirement is that the storage space is dry and has airflow.
Should you oil your chains? We wouldn't unless the manufacturer specifically calls for it. Use all-purpose oil, never WD-40. If you notice small rust spots on your chain, you can rub the spots down with oil and a rag. You may even use a (very) fine grade sandpaper to gently ease the rust spots away.
Other Factors to Consider
We considered the weight of each chain and chain pair. In order to be effective, the chains must have a way to go up in weight. It takes a while to outgrow a new chain, but you will eventually, just as you will outgrow a set of beginner weight plates.
On the flipside, a chain that is too heavy will not be much help. You will tire quickly and maybe even become frustrated. Heavier chains will also be harder to transport. Most of our reviewed items come in different weights for these reasons.
Chains were rated in terms of how many different tasks you can accomplish with them, and how many different ways they can benefit you. Even though it is the lightest and shortest, the U9 Functional Fitness chain is the most versatile one we found. You can use it with almost any dumbbell or barbell exercise. It will add steady resistance, rather than having to lift more and more links up off the floor. However, the U9 will not make your reps more efficient, by matching the resistance arc to your muscle arc, which is what the five-foot chains do.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can I shorten my lifting chains on my own?
Yes, you can, using a hacksaw or a reciprocating saw with a fine metal cutting blade. You will want to cut the link, where you want the new chain to end, in half and then knock the leftover steel off.
Make sure to wear protective gear and follow all safety procedures when using saws.
q: Why are some makers so against collars for chains?
Collars can lower the effectiveness of a lift by not allowing the chain to move freely on the bar. Hooks and carabiners are made to slide around a bit, which makes the lift more difficult and helps create more of those desired micro tears.
Although this is a valid concern, most lifters will not see a noticeable effect whether they use collars or hooks. In our educated opinion, this is a matter of personal preference. Beginners, especially, need the tight stability offered by locking collars.
q: Is it safe to lift a heavy barbell with chains?
If the chains are rated beyond the total weight, we suppose you could, but we have no idea why and we don't see how it could be safe, especially with heavy weights. The lifting chains are designed to lay on the floor and come up link by link, not hook up above the bar for whatever reason.
Now, something you can do is a regular bench press, with a barbell, with chains on either end next to the weight plates. As long as the chains are secured, so they don't slide onto the floor or hit your body, chains are a great way to improve both the intensity and efficacy of a bench press.
q: How can I care for my chain?
Oil it only if the manufacturer says to in the manual. Inspect it for rust, discoloration, or kinks. Only ever use it as directed. Consider always wearing gloves to handle the chain, because the oils in your skin may possibly affect the finish. Gloves are a good idea anyway because there is always the chance of a sharp-edged weld joint or a burr even on high end lifting chains.
q: Come on, be honest--can I use these to pull a car by hand?
Absolutely. And as long as the chains are long enough and you are following safety ratings, you could use many of these chains a part of a yoke to pull a weight sled. If you are going the car deadlift route, please do yourself a favor and wear thick gloves or have a friend help you make a handle. Even pulling a smart car or, we don't know, a golf cart can cause damage and pain to your skin.
- Weight Lifting Chains for Powerlifting in the Gym, Equipment Manufacturer Site ,
- Benefits of Lifting Chains, Weight Training Educational Site ,
- Electromyographic and kinetic analysis of traditional, chain, and elastic band squats. , Scientific Journal ,