McCurdy, K, Langford, G, Ernest, J, Jenkerson, D, and Doscher, M. Comparison of chain- and plate-loaded bench press training on strength, joint pain, and muscle soreness in Division II baseball players. J Strength Cond Res 23(1): 187--195, 2009-The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of chain- (CBP) and plate-loaded (PBP) bench press training on measures of strength, shoulder pain, and muscle soreness in Division II baseball players. Twenty-eight subjects with previous resistance training experience (4.8 ± 2.7 years) completed the study while participating in off-season baseball practice. All subjects completed a one-repetition maximum pre- and posttest on the CBP and PBP and reported shoulder pain and muscle soreness on 15 occasions during training. Two treatment groups, CBP and PBP, trained 2 d·wk−1 for 9 weeks during the off-season with a linear periodization strength training program. The CBP group used chains attached to the bar as the entire load, and the PBP group used only traditional plate-loaded resistance. The chains provided a variable resistance, with a reduction in load during the descent as the weight collected on the floor and with the load increasing during ascent as the weight was lifted from the floor. Statistically significant increases were found in strength scores after training for the CBP test (p < 0.001) and the PBP test (p < 0.001). Both groups were able to improve strength on the CBP and PBP, but no significant differences were found in strength gains between the groups on the CBP and PBP tests. Although levels of pain and soreness were not significantly different, a threefold difference was found for perceived levels of shoulder pain (mean totals of 2.15 vs. 6.14), whereas reported soreness was similar (9.38 vs. 10.57) for the CBP and PBP group, respectively. The data indicate that training with chain- and plate-loaded resistance produce similar short-term strength improvement on the chain- and plate-loaded bench press. Baseball players may benefit from CBP training with improved free-weight strength while minimizing shoulder stress.