Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


DIY Hanging Handles
The Setup

The Setup.

For the gym that has everything, and for the space that could become a superb training area – a tool that gives great bang for the buck and takes up modest space: handles on chains, staple equipment for me.

Tyre Chains

Tire Chains.

Most exercises that involve body suspension are situated in stable structures – pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, that kind of thing. There are also bodyweight exercises situated in stable structures which could become suspension activities with the right structure – push-ups, inverse flys, scapular retraction and depression exercises.
When these exercises are performed correctly in unstable environments, the benefits are exponential. The direct demand and load are increased, plus the instability introduces new angles of force and makes new demands on both large and very small muscle groups. By nature, core strength must develop in order to perform, and overall muscular coordination must develop as well.
Enter handles hung on chains. These are more versatile than their more glamorous cousin – the rings – because they can easily be adjusted into every possibly degree of proximity to one another, and their level of suspension from the floor can easily be manipulated as well. They’re not just fixed into a ceiling beam for time immemorial. You can move them as often as you like, even during a work out.
You’ll need either one 6′ length of chain or two 3′ lengths of chain just heavy enough to support your bodyweight (which means they can be surprisingly thin, thanks to modern chain technology), four to six carabiners, and two handles.
You have some selection to decide on with handles. While they’ll likely be flat rods across your palm, you can choose whether to have square, round or strap tops. I prefer the kind in which the handle rolls freely over a strap loop; they’re the most unstable, lightweight, and inexpensive.

Now the fun begins. You’ll get ideas the more you play with them. Drape them over a racked Olympic bar for push-ups. Try adjusting their height, and go from a doubled length to single. Put your feet up on a ball for truly unstable decline push-ups. The two lengths are handy for this, but you can also drape the 6′ chain and secure it just at the bar with carabiners as well (that’s what I did in my video below).
Wrap a chain around a chin-up bar, then attach the handles, for destabilized pull-ups. Enjoy the full range of motion this affords your wrist-elbow-shoulder joint paths.
If you’ve been hankering for rings, chains can be a satisfying alternative to get you by until you save up the dough and come up with the permanent space them. The destabilized training style can be a great base for the rings as well.
You’ll find there’s always room in your home gym for these handles. And when you go to someone else’s gym, they can go with you, too.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



NB : if you love talking about strength-training as much as I do, you might also like to check out the weekly newsletter. A regular dose of fitness-focussed discussions, absolutely free.

And if you'd like to check out any of the stuff mentioned above (or in the comments), swing by Amazon. Huge assortment of fitness gear.


Leave a Reply

What's This?

Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

images of strength

'Napalm' Jedd Johnson.
Want to see (and learn) more Feats of Strength like this? Dive in.

Just Joined Us? Try These.

There are some incredible writers on the team here. To give you an idea, check these out :

If you enjoyed these, check out the complete ‘Best Of Straight to the Bar‘ list. Fantastic.

setting up a home gym?

If you’re getting ready to put together a solid Home Gym (fantastic thing), here’s how.

For more, swing by the full guide. Absolutely free.

And of course, you’ll find everything you need over in the SttB Strength Store. Massive range.

Ever Tried Kettlebells?

If you’ve seen people using them but never taken the plunge yourself, here are the ones I use personally. You can also pick up a book/DVD/course if you want to learn how to put them to work.

Ready To Learn Even More?

I love learning new skills, and the many seminars & workshops available are a great way to do that. If you’re looking for a specific type of workshop nearby, check out the ones on Dragon Door. Great mix of kettlebell and calisthenics-based offerings.

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program.

If you’re a fitness professional and love the Precision Nutrition approach, check out their certification offering. To say it’s comprehensive is an understatement.

Wherever You Are, We Are.

In addition to the main site, you can share your strength-training passion with a like-minded community on :

Wherever you like to hang out, get your regular dose of strength. Straight to the Bar.

Kat 'The Mighty Kat' Ricker is a bodybuilder, writer and lover of putting heavy things overhead. Find out more over on her site.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.