Bodyweight TV Muscle Mass Strength

Build Shoulder Strength And Size With Chains

Written by shapeshifter

If you’re training at home or on the go, there are a few “trouble spots” that are more of a challenge to get at. Of course, one of those is the back. And we’ve addressed that with pull ups, assisted pull ups and even DIY suspension training gear.


The other area that many at home programs neglect is the shoulders. So I was excited to learn a nifty new shoulder exercise from our friend John Barban. This simple exercise requires nothing but some inexpensive chains that you can get at your local hardware store.

Chains are great because you can bunch them up and keep them in a VERY small space. You can even throw them in the trunk of your car for workouts at the park. Probably not ideal for your suitcase, but pretty portable nonetheless… 🙂

OK, let’s check out the Adonis Chain!

John loves this one because it beefs up the shoulders so nicely. And the wider the shoulders are in comparison to the waist, the better. That’s what John reckons anyway. And he’s pretty smart.

In fact, he’s come up with a formula to measure how attractive your body proportions are. It’s called the Adonis Effect Index. Basically, he’s studied the aesthetics of hundreds of “beautiful” physiques and determined that the overall size is much less important than the ratio of one body part to another.

This one is for guys, but they’re coming out with a gals formula soon. It’s pretty cool, cause it goes to show that you don’t have to be huge. In fact, the most attractive physiques are just the kind of well proportioned bodies that you get from training BodyweightCoach-style!

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  • Love that one! I’ve got some chains in the basement and I’ll give it a try.

    Have you thought about using those clips on the ends to loop through the center of a couple of barbell plates (like 5 lbs on either side or something) and clip back on itself for a little extra resistance? That would add resistance and an element of instability as the plates swing as you perform the exercise.

    Like a “swinging plate chain good morning” basically.

  • What a great idea for a shoulder workout! How many sets/reps does John like to do with this exercise? Any idea approximately how much that chain weighs, so I can pick an appropriate weight at the hardware store? What’s a good length to get? Pardon all the questions! Thanks!

    • Hey Ronn,

      Sets of 8-12 would work well. You can also do this as a “finisher” for 25 reps. (ouch…)

      When we were working out, one of the tricks we used was to clip 2 or more chains together to add resistance. So I’d recommend picking up 3-4 lengths of chain of different strength. Then you can mix and match to the the resistance you want.

      Nick’s idea of clipping plates or other weighted objects onto the ends is also cool… 🙂


  • Am I missing something here? Good mornings holding a chain and that’s it? No weight/resistance? If that works, why even use a chain?

    • Umm – I think you better try it with those chains before you say there isn’t any resistance… 🙂 Your delts will be burning if you use the right weight chain.

      • Just fyi, I did try it a few minutes ago with the 5 lb plates dangling from the ends. If your chains aren’t heavy enough, clip plates on. Works great.

        • OK, I believe you! Just sounded too incredible 🙂 Nothing like trying something as a cure for disbelief 😉

  • This seems pretty well suited to a body bar; any reason to purchase chains when I’ve got dozens of bars? Hold that chain straight, close to the body and bend…sounds like it would work very nicely. And I’ll be happy to let you know…tomorrow!

    • Hi Julia,
      There are a few disadvantages to the bodybar. The chains allow more range of motion during the bent portion of the movement (for the rear delts and upper back muscles). Also, by concentrating on keeping the chains in contact with your chest, we found that you can get a much stronger contraction then when using a solid bar.

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