Why, When And How To Use A Hammer Strength Chest Press
There is a never-ending debate about whether you should use free weights or machines in the gym. While I mostly sit on the free weights side of the fence, I do feel that certain machines can benefit your training greatly in many situations.
Some of the better machines out there are hammer strength machines. Hammer strength machines are actually somewhat of a middle ground between free weights and the type of machines found in many commercial gyms that rely on pullies and cables to lift a stack of pin-loaded weights.
Hammer strength machines use a single leverage point and are plate-loaded, which means you still end up lifting the resistance directly instead of it going through a bunch of different pulley angles and lengths of cable. Because of this, the feel of a hammer strength machine is much closer to lifting with free weights.
A staple machine in many gyms and a favourite among lifters is the hammer strength chest press. This machine mimics the arm action of a bench press, only in a seated position.
When used properly, the hammer strength chest press machine can be a valuable tool in your lifting arsenal.
When To Use The Hammer Strength Chest Press
Of course, it is entirely up to you when you use the hammer strength chest press in your training. In this section, I will be going over my suggestions and tips for the best way to incorporate it into your own workouts.
If you have an injury that prevents you from using free weights then the machine could provide a pain-free way to continue your chest training. In this situation, it would be appropriate to use the hammer strength chest press as one of your main movements close to the start of a workout.
However, my preferred use for the machine is to leave it until a little later on in your chest sessions. Generally, I like to start with a barbell or dumbbell movement that you are able to go relatively heavy on.
Starting with a heavier exercise when you are still fresh is a great way to stimulate a large number of muscle fibres and put in maximum effort before you are fatigued. As a workout progresses, you accumulate more and more fatigue in your muscles.
When using free weights, a lot of this fatigue will be felt in the supporting and stabilizing muscles as well as your primary mover. On chest day, for example, your shoulders and rotator cuff muscles will become tired.
When those stabilizing muscles fatigue, they become the limiting factor in the chest exercises. When this happens, the hammer strength chest press is the perfect machine to carry on working your chest.
The nature of the machine means that stabilizing muscles receive a much lower workload. Therefore, you can carry on targeting and taxing your chest without worrying about other muscles being tired and letting you down.
A few sets of higher reps, around 10-15, after your free weight work, is a great way to push your chest training that bit harder and drive more blood into the muscles.
How To Perform A Hammer Strength Chest Press
The fact that it is a machine makes it extremely to do a hammer strength chest press exercise. However, there are a couple of setup and body position factors you should be aware of.
Here is a step-by-step rundown of how to use the hammer strength chest press properly:
- Adjust the seat so that the handles are just below shoulder level when you are seated. Note that you can lift the seat higher or lower to change the emphasis between your upper and lower parts of your chest if you wish.
- Grip the handles with your palms facing down and with a grip width that allows your forearm to be in a straight line between your wrist and elbow. Be sure to keep your wrist straight like you are throwing a punch instead of bending it backwards.
- Retract your shoulder blades by pinching them together and bring them down towards the ground. This will puff your chest out and keep your shoulders safe.
- Extend your arms until they are straight while maintaining the retracted shoulder position and keeping your back flat against the backrest.
- Return to the start position under control and repeat.
Hammer Strength Chest Press Summary
The hammer strength machines are a very easy and safe way to work different muscles of your body. As I mentioned in this article, I feel they are excellent for squeezing out a bit of extra work after your muscles have fatigued from your free weight movements.
If you are fortunate enough to have a hammer strength chest press in your own gym, try it out after your dumbbell and barbell movements during your next few chest sessions.
I still sit on the free weights side of the argument and feel that most of your training should be done outside of machines. However, come machine certainly do have their uses and benefits.
What do you think of machine training and the hammer strength chest press on particular? Share some of your thoughts in the comments below.