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  • Date Submitted: 03/29/2010 04:31 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 61.1 
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Chain squats

Although most squatting is performed using a simple barbell and weight arrangement, there are variations on this theme. A popular variation of the squat in the USA is to add chains to either end of the barbell.

The chain is attached to the top of the barbell, with some portion of it on the floor. As the squatter descends, more of the chain is on the floor, decreasing the overall load. As the squatter ascends, less of the chain is on the floor, increasing the overall load. This arrangement requires greater force production at the top end of the squat (because more of the chain is off the floor and thus suspended from the barbell) when the legs are in a more mechanically advantageous position to produce greater force.

This mechanical advantage arises from the fact that the length of the quadriceps is shortened, allowing more opportunity for cross-bridge contractile activity.

At the bottom of the squat, when the quadriceps muscles are lengthened, there is less cross-bridge activation and the legs are at a mechanical disadvantage. So, although the external resistance is constant (the barbell), the force produced by the muscles isn’t constant due to mechanical changes.

The theory behind the use of chains is that it overcomes mechanical changes and produces a constant force throughout the movement. This may be of use in movements such as a lock forward scrummaging in rugby union, where more force may have to be produced with the legs nearly straightened in order to assist the prop’s push forward against the opposition.

An alternative method is to use elastic bands or tubing, with one end fixed to the floor and the other to the barbell. Again, as the squatter descends less resistance is produced because the tension in the elastic is reduced, but more resistance is produced on the ascent due to the elastic lengthening and tensing....

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