Top 10 Chains for Weightlifting – 2021
If you have hit a wall, investing in a good pair of weightlifting chains will likely solve all of your plateau woes. Sticking points and plateaus on your lifts are most often the result of weak stabilizing muscles. Popping a pair of chains on the bar helps to engage stabilizing muscle which will make sticking points a thing of the past. The way chains work is that they match the arc of resistance with the natural arc of your muscle as it moves the resistance. Not only are chains perfect for traditional barbell lifts, but you can also sling them over your shoulders for your supplemental lifts as well.
We have selected some of the best weightlifting chains to help you smash through that plateau and hit a new PR!
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
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. Each chain is immersed in molten zinc at temperatures of over 800 degrees. The result is 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.
The chains work just fine for a normal trip to the gym as well. 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
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.
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 as well. 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 skillset 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.
The chains, combined, weigh 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.
Multiple colors available
Can be hooked together
Fits any Olympic barbell
Shorter than expected
What we liked most about this option from Happybuy is that it is incredibly versatile and designed for a variety of lifts. It comes in a pack of two chains that is ideal for Crossfit, bodybuilding, and even powerlifting. Plus, they are so affordable that you may want to stock up on multiple packs!Read more
We love the simplicity of this design. At the end of each unit is a metal loop that easily slips over any standard size Olympic barbell. They secure in place with the simple twist of an L-screw which makes it ideal not only for bench presses but deadlifts and squats as well.
One chain weighs in at 13 pounds, and the pair together weighs 26 pounds. They are made from Q235 steel that boasts a zinc finish that prevents them from rusting, even when stored in slightly damp conditions such as a basement or garage. We also like that you have the option to snap the two together for one long 26-pound chain.
The best part about this option from Happybuy is that it comes in at a super affordable price point that won’t break the bank. It is composed of high-quality materials that hold up well over time, and smart design features allow you to change up your workouts in a snap.
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 crack 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 its 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.
Easy to store
Made from heavy-duty materials
Cannot be adjusted
Some of the best workout gear is often not categorized as workout gear at all. The reason that we selected this design from Vulcan is that it checks off of the boxes of what makes a great weight lifting chain. It is composed of tough materials that hold up well in damp basements and boasts a slimmer frame that makes it easier to work with. If you walk into any serious powerlifting gym, you may be surprised to see a Vulcan chain hanging off their barbells.Read more
What we loved most about this design is that it is composed of incredibly tough materials. It is made from Grade 80 alloy binder that will not rust or lose strength over time. It weighs in at 70 pounds, making it one of the heavier options on our list.
Unlike some of the bulkier options out there on the market, this design measures to be ⅜ on an inch thick. The slimmer frame not only makes it easy to handle and use in a wide variety of lifts, but it also makes it easier to store without taking up that much space in your home gym.
If you are in the market for something that is built insanely tough, this design from Vulcan is worth checking out. We love that it boasts a strong, sturdy, and slim frame, and weighs in at an impressive 30 pounds. It may cost a little bit more than most, but it is well worth it for serious powerlifters.
Easy to adjust
Made from tough materials
Bulkier than most
The best part about this option from Dyrabrest is that it is versatile enough to be used for a wide variety of workouts. Unlike other basic chains out there on the market, this design comes with additional attachments that allow you to mount it to barbells, belts, or just sling over your shoulders for more challenging dips.Read more
This kit includes additional hooks that attach directly to your Olympic barbell. We love that it is super easy to screw these onto the bar, and just as easy to pop off when you are ready to test that new PR. We also like that there is a spring hook in the center of each chain to divide it in half to easily adjust the weight.
This option ships in a set of two, and the combined weight of the chains clocks in at 26 pounds, which is pretty standard when compared to other options out there on the market. This versatile set is able to also be adjusted to sling over your shoulders for supplement lifts as well.
The best part of this design is that it comes in at a price point that is slightly lower than other designs that we have seen so far. It is composed of tough materials that hold up well over time and comes with additional attachments to keep your workouts new and engaging.
10. Koch A01161
Easily the most affordable option
Electroplated galvanized coating
Check weld joints for burrs
For our last but not least entry, we've chosen a chain not really built for lifting. Koch makes all sizes of chain, but we went with the 3/16" links and 20-foot length.Read more
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.
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, is a fairly new thing. Not every fitness company has had the time and resources to either manufacture their own chains or source them from a qualified distributor. 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 to be held or used for training.
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 durable for a lifetime.
That's why we made sure the chains we included on our list 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.
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.
No one wants to deal with a rusty chain.
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 options 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. 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. The coatings we discussed are in place both to preserve the steel links and to prevent injuries or having the product fail. If you do dips, the steel on the chain will be quite close to your skin. 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 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 has 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, to 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 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 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 flip side, a chain that is too heavy will not be much help. 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: How will chains help to improve my lifts?
To push past a sticking point on a bench press or even a deadlift, you need to invest in some type or resistance. Resistance bands are a great way to create tension on the bar, but many weight benches simply don’t have the hardware to accommodate bands. If you are rocking an old school bench, or don’t have resistance band posts on your bench, chains are a great way to add resistance quickly and easily.
When there is resistance on the bar pulling it back to the earth, tiny little stabilization muscles in your body work to pull off the lift. If you have discovered that you have a particular sticking point (most likely in tricep engagement for bench presses), chains will help strengthen those tiny muscles that don’t get engaged with traditional lifts.
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 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 heavyweights. 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.
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 do I care for chain?
Oil it only if the manufacturer recommends it. 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.
- 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 ,