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John Gaglione's Post Season Wrestling Training # 1

Chain Training for Explosive Power


The post season is underway and it is a critical time to get stronger and faster for the next season. Developing Power is critical for explosive stand ups and takedowns for wrestling.  Many strength coaches utilize various forms of plyos, Olympic lifts, and box jumps in order to prepare their athletes for their sport. I use many of these methods myself with my wrestlers, but many coaches do not have a lot of time to teach the complex Olympic lifts or may not feel comfortable teaching them. We can utilize the squat, bench, and deadlift in order to increase power and strength as using the Dynamic Effort Method and Max Effort Method.

As we have discussed in the past the bench, squat and deadlift are some of the best exercise to use to build absolute strength, but can also be utilized to develop power and explosive strength as well. This is particularly effective with the combination of chains.

Many people think the bench, squat, and deadlift can only be utilized for building “slow strength”, but the reality is any lift performed explosively can be implemented to increase power. We can utilize what is called the Dynamic Effort method in order to develop speed and explosive power. As a general rule of thumb we can simply monitor bar speed in order to figure out what weight will work best, but I will give some percentages as mere guidelines for implementing this method.

The Dynamic Effort Method is typically 40%-70% of 1RM for 6-12 Sets of 1-3 Repetitions. In general when we use a lighter percents we will use more repetitions and more chain weight. When we use a higher percents we will use less chain weight and perform fewer repetitions.

At Gaglione Strength we like to utilize chains with the Dynamic Effort method, since the chains on the barbell are a form of accommodating resistance. Accommodating resistance means that as the weight is lowered the chains will pile up on the ground and the load will be lighter in the bottom of the motion. As the athlete reverses the motion and raises the weight back up the chain will come off the ground and the load will be heavier in the lock out position. This accommodates for the athlete’s natural strength curve, where the athlete is normally stronger in the lock out position.

There are certain movements such as pull ups and rows where the athlete is actually weaker in the lockout position. Regardless if their lockout is their weak point the use of the dynamic effort method with chains will teach the athlete to lift in an explosive manner. This teaches the athlete to accelerate through the entire lift. When using straight weight the athlete will naturally decelerate, since the weight will be the same through the entire range of motion. Since the weight gets heavier at the top the athlete is forced to accelerate through the entire range of motion or else they will invariably miss the weight.

In this example shown below of an athlete using the Giant Cambered Bar Box Squat and 120 pounds of chain weight. Depending on the strength of the athlete we will utilize any where from 1-3 chains per side, which equates to 40-120 pounds of total chain weight. Each chain weighs approximately 20 pounds each and can be purchased through Elite Fitness Systems. Exceptionally strong athletes of course can utilize more chain weight if desired.

The chains help build a strong lockout and a powerful start for a variety of exercises in the weight room. If the athlete isn’t explosive the athlete will fail since the weight gets heavier at the top of the lift. The athlete is FORCED to move the weight fast in order to lock out the weight. When setting up the chain for the squat and the bench a smaller “feeder” chain should be used in order to have most of the chain de-loaded on the floor at the bottom position. This allows for the greatest contrast of weight to be loaded and de-loaded in order to improve speed and lockout strength.

For the deadlift and floor press no feeder chain is necessary. I like to use special collars for the deadlift, but they can be draped over the bar at the middle link of the chain for a quick and effective set up. You can also implement the chains for absolute strength work and go heavier than 90%. Here is an example of the trap bar deadlift versus chain where the chains are simply draped over the bar.

When we implement loads greater than 90% for 1 to 3 sets we call this the Max Effort method. True max effort work is done with single repetitions, but with our athletes we typically utilize 5RM(Rep Max), 3RM, or 2RM loads instead. This is not to be done with beginner athletes. They should have solid technique and a good base of strength and strength endurance before utilizing the Max Effort method.

Here is a picture showing how the chains can be draped over the bar for the Swiss bar floor press. This would be a great variation for athlete who have had some shoulder problem in the past or just wanted to keep stress off of the shoulders in season. There are three main reasons why this movement is very shoulder friendly. Number one the floor press is limited range of motion movement, number two the Swiss bar allows for neutral grip, and number three the chains will deload in the bottom position making the load lighter in the part of the movement where the joint is at its weakest point.

Chains can be applied to a host of other barbell exercises such as the barbell glute bridge and hip thrust. Here is an example of an athlete performing the barbell hip thrust versus chain. This is a great exercise for developing glute strength and hip extension power. This exercise can also be done from the floor. It can be used as a strength exercise or a power exercise depending upon how much load you utilize. This is a great exercise to throw in from time to time in place of deadlifts. This will target the glutes better than any other exercise I know. If you want to create an explosive athlete you need to have strong glutes!

Chains can also be utilized for a variety of other exercises as well that I will outline in the future. Chains can be used to improve strength, speed, and a help build a strong lock out for a variety of different lifts. If coaches are not comfortable teaching Olympic lifts, the bench, squat, and deadlift combined with chains can be used to develop an explosive and strong athlete. It you want to build strong and explosive wrestlers give chain training a try.

Educate, Motivate, Dominate
Coach Gaglione

 If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at gaglionestrength@gmail.com or check out my website www.gaglionestrength.com

To take your wrestling to the next level and ensure this coming wrestling season is your best one ever go to GaglioneStrength.com and e-mail Coach Gaglione for more information on wrestling training.

 Coach John Gaglione is a Sport Performance Specialist out of Long Island New York. He is a certified "Underground" Strength coach who specializes in training combat athletes. John’s work has been featured in Elite Fitness Systems, Testosterone Nation , One Result & local wrestling site Long Island Wrestling Association. If you would like to learn more about John you can reach him at www.gaglionestrength.com or e-mail him at gaglionestrength@gmail.com.