This article is about the Hammer Strength Chest Press. Here you will learn:
- What the Hammer Strength Chest Press is
- The Benefits of this exercise
- How to Perform this exercise correctly - Step by Step
- Tips for Beginners when performing this exercise
- Alternate Exercises
Your pectorals are one of the most eye catching muscles on your torso and a sign of a well developed physique. In the following article you’ll learn how to grow your chest with the Hammer Strength Chest Press.
When you look at famous bodybuilders or actors, what really differentiates a physique is the chest muscles. A set of well developed pecs creates a feeling of power and presence that none other can match.
There’s even studies showing that both men and women perceive the ideal physique as one with wide, powerful chest muscles that widens your torso while making your waist look smaller.
With summer right around the corner, there’s no better time to take your chest training to the next level so that you’re drawing looks of awe and envy every time you pop your shirt off.
Lucky for you, I have just the way, keep reading to learn all about the Hammer Strength Chest Press.
What is the Hammer Strength Chest press?
Well to begin with, it should be said that hammer strength is actually a brand of gym equipment.
But it's not just a brand, it's THE brand when it comes to plate loaded equipment like shoulder press machines and bench press set ups.
So much so that even the exercise is named after the machine they created.
So when people say Hammer Strength bench press, they mean a bench press, on a plate-loaded machine.
Not necessarily a hammer strength branded one, though theirs are definitely the best if you can get them.
And why did it take their name? Because they were the first to come up with what is basically a bench press, without all the dangers of bench pressing.
They studied the ergonomics of the exercise and the natural path of the bench press bar, and replicated it on a machine so that even if you want to, you can't mess it up.
Benefits of the hammer strength chest press
The benefits of the hammer strength chest press are countless but we are going to discuss a few them next.
Can focus on contracting and pumping the muscles
While simple at first, any advanced lifter can tell you that as you keep adding weight onto the bar, your form for the bench press starts becoming increasingly more important.
Look up how to bench press and you’ll find ten different videos, telling you that they know the right way and everyone else is wrong.
What ends up happening is that when the time comes to actually bench press, you’re so focused on different cues that you forget to concentrate on your chest.
When you do that, your shoulders and arms take over a lot of the exercise and the workout isn’t as efficient as it could be.
With the hammer strength chest press, all of those concerns about form go out the window, you can focus solely on your pecs.
The better your mind muscle connection is, the faster you’ll make some crazy chest gains.
Can work a single pec at at time
A big problem with compound movements is that since we all have a dominant side, most of us end up developing some sort of imbalance. Some of us (cough cough) can even bench more than we squat..
If this is you... than I would seriously consider you start squatting every workout like I did to get your balance back in check. Don't be the little legs - big chest guy.
It might not be noticeable to the naked eye right now, but believe there are few things as unsightly as having uneven pecs. You won't believe how much work it took for me to fix that.
With the hammer strength chest press you can avoid that completely by working each pec individually, since the arms can move independently from each other.
This way you make sure that both sides are receiving the same amount of stress and won't leave you looking lopsided.
hits at different angles to target different parts of the chest muscle
The hammer strength chest press machine allows you to focus on your pecs from different angles. You are not confined to one angle like you are with the bench press. You can move around and work different parts of the muscle.
Want to work your inner chest more? You can do that by scooting yourself towards the side that you are working.
can be used as A tricep workout
This might vary depending on what kind of machine you have available, but most hammer strength chest press machines I’ve encountered can also be used to hit your triceps.
This is thanks to the oversized grips you often find on plate loaded chest press machines. If you grab the handles so that your fists are as close to each other as possible, you can do close grip bench.
This is great compound lift to grow your guns, and remember that triceps are a third of your arms. Way bigger than your biceps. If you didn't know that, then give our triceps vs biceps article a read and learn the differences so you can better learn to grow these bad boys.
It's very easy to use progressive overload on this lift and you’ll soon have arms like tree trunks.
not worried about the weight of the bar falling on you
This is my personal favorite, the real reason I choose hammer strength press every time
We’ve all been there before, you’ve been training hard for a few weeks and feel you’re ready for a new PR. Time to ego lift.
You load up, pick the right song, hype yourself up and unrack the bar. You lower it, it touches your chest and you get ready to give it your all.
The bar doesn't move.
You struggle, cursing your pride, until you have to accept defeat and call for help while you struggle to breath.
Way to go dummy.
This is the my favorite benefit of the hammer strength chest press, there’s no danger of getting stuck under a heavy bar, or bruising yourself up.
Times When the Hammer Strength Chest Press Comes in Big Handy
As we mentioned the benefits are countless and there are times when the hammer strength chest press comes in handy big time
When burnt out or fatigued from other chest exercises or compound movements.
Compound movements are named that way because they require multiple muscles and joints to be executed.
Some of those muscles work as stabilizers to maintain your form, keep the bar path and keep you safe. Muscles like your arms and shoulders which all contribute to helping you stabilize the bar when benching.
The problem is that these muscles are much much smaller than your chest, so they get tired faster. When this happens, your form will start to break down.
So, next time you can tell your form is lacking, but you still want to keep training your chest, just hop over to the hammer strength chest press, where you don’t have to worry about form or safety.
You can just stay focused on your chest and nothing else.
Injured or rather take it easy? Use the Hammer Strength Chest Press
Sometimes some of us just want to take it easy and would rather use the chest press over the bench press, or would like to focus on working and pumping up the chest muscles without lifting heavy weights.
Or maybe you have your shoulder bothering you like I did.
The hammer strength chest press was a life saver. Thanks to the controlled range of motion I was able to get nurse my shoulder back to health over months, without missing out on my chest gains.
This exercise is also my go to chest exercise for my off days when I just want to lightly pump my chest muscles up after my chest day workouts.
How Do You Perform A Hammer Strength Chest Press Successfully?
Listed below are the steps to perform this exercise correctly
Step 1 - Seat Position -
This is mainly for those of you that have access to the seated version of this machine. The flat bench type obviously can not be adjusted.
With that out of the way, the height of your seat may vary a bit from person to person because our bodies are different, but there are general guidelines you can follow.
To begin with, try to sit with the handles at chest height. Picture the handles as the bar in a regular bench press and look for something that feels comfortable and natural.
If you’re not sure about the feel, I always recommend having your seat higher, as long as the handles stay somewhere in your chest area. This will bring the handles lower on your body.
I find this way gives a better contraction since it prevents the shoulder from taking over.
Step 2 - Hand Position -
Hand position is a big factor in any pressing movement. It's what will determine your leverages and what muscles are engaged.
So in this case, for a regular bench press I suggest picturing that your hands have a straight line between them, this will be the “bar” that you’re pressing.
Make sure to keep your hands around chest height and to try different heights to see which position feels right.
If you want to do triceps work, you can bring your hands as close together as possible to perform a close grip press.
Step 3 - Performing the exercise -
One last consideration before starting the exercise is elbow position. Try not to flare your elbows too much, keeping them at around forty five degrees from your torso.
This is because if as your elbow position changes, the direction in which you apply force changes as well. You want to push with the range of motion set by the machine, not against it.
That’s it! You’re good to go!
Tips for Beginners
Listed below are tips for beginners who are new to the hammer strength chest press.
How the Hammer Strength Bench Press fits into your routine.
Congratulations, now you know how to do the exercise correctly!
However it can be a bit daunting for newbies to introduce a new exercise to their workout regimen without guidance, so let's talk about how you can schedule it into your existing plan.
Like I said above, it can be used as an accessory when you’re tired and want to finish off your chest. But I think most beginners will find the most benefit in using this one as their main chest movement.
If you choose to replace the conventional bench press with the hammer strength one, I suggest either sticking with your current sets and reps scheme for the bench press or going for three to four set of six to eight reps.
Grip: Thumbless vs Full grip
Thanks to a phenomena called “Irradiation” which describes how tension from one muscle spreads and increases tension on other muscles, squeezing the handles really hard can help provide more stability to the whole arm and shoulder.
Regardless of that, some lifters find that a thumbless or “suicide” grip is more comfortable.
If you’re one of those, then this lift can be performed safely that way, with no risk of dropping the bar on yourself
Inexperienced lifters may feel some discomfort or even pain in the front of their shoulders when performing the bench press.
This is because their shoulders are not positioned correctly. Visualize bringing your shoulder blades together to create shoulder stability and get rid of any discomfort.
Core stability and feet position
It's important that you keep your abdominal muscles contracted and avoid excessive arching of your back. This is to avoid shear forces on your spine.
Furthermore, while you may feel the impulse to move your feet when pushing really hard, the better position is to make sure your soles are always making contact with the ground and keep some tension in your legs.
My coaching tip is to slightly push yourself against the machine.
Mind Muscle connection
While I touched on this above, I think it's especially important for beginners to develop a strong mind muscle connection.
Having a feel for the contraction of the muscle is the best way to know that the exercise is being performed correctly.
It can happen that some individuals, especially those with a sunken or undeveloped chest (Who should be the most eager to make it grow) have their shoulders and arms take over and do most of the work.
Try to focus on the feeling of your chest contracting as you push and then stretching as you come back to the starting position. Repeat this for each rep. Eventually you will be able to squeeze the muscle harder and even flex it at will.
Alternative Exercises to Hammer Strength Chest Press
Listed below are the alternative exercises to the hammer strength chest press exercise
Dumbbell Chest Press
A good hammer strength chest press alternative to work your chest is the dumbbell press.
It basically imitates a bench press, but since you’re not using a bar, it helps avoid imbalances and if you fail you won't be crushed by the barbell, you can just drop the weights.
Another benefit of this one is that in case of any injuries, you can easily limit the range of motion to protect your muscles and joints.
How to do the dumbbell chest press
- Grab two dumbbells and a bench. Make sure to pick a weight that you can use for 6 to 8 repetitions and have one or two left in the tank.
- Lay back on the bench, holding the dumbbells up to your chest.
- Keep tension on your abs and legs, while having the soles of your feet flat on the ground. This helps maintain stability in your core and back.
- Place your elbows at around forty five degrees from your torso.
- Push the weight up, without going to full extension of your arms, do not lock your elbows.
- Bring the weight back down slowly and repeat.
Dumbbell Chest Flys
A favorite for many bodybuilders, including Arnold back in his pumping iron days! It's great because it targets the whole chest at once.
What sets this one apart is that it hits the muscle fibers closer to the sternum the hardest, helping you develop great chest separation.
How to do a dumbbell chest fly
- Lie on a bench with your feet flat on the ground while holding two dumbbells.
- Lift the dumbbells over your chest with your palms facing each other.
- Slowly lower the weight in an arc until you feel a stretch on your pecs, keep the motion controlled.
- Use your pecs to bring the weights back up, focusing on the contraction of your chest muscles and repeat.
The dumbbell pullover not only works your chest but also your back, making it a great two for one option to add to your upper body workouts.
While it may seem counterintuitive to work opposing muscle groups at the same time (The chest pushes but the lats pull) you can achieve this with the pull over by having a very large range of motion.
How to do a Dumbbell Pullover
- Lay with your back flat on a bench, while holding a medium heavy dumbbell. Make sure to keep your feet flat on the ground.
- Extend your arms to hold the dumbbell over your chest.You can use any grip but I find most comfortable to cup one side of the weight with both hands.
- Keeping your core engaged, slowly lower your arms overhead until you feel a stretch on your lats and chest.
- Slowly bring your arms back up to the starting position. Now repeat.
Chest Cable Crossovers
This is one of my go to’s when the gym is packed.
When everyone and their mother is queueing up for the bench press and bench machines I just quietly make my way to the cable stations.
Not only that but a new study about pectoral activation has just revealed that the cable crossover is one of the best exercises out there for chest isolation.
How to do a cable crossover
- Stand in between two opposite cable stations.
- Set the pulleys at the bottom for decline, the top for incline and the middle for conventional. Attach handles.
- Step forward to create tension in the cables.
- Bring your fists together in front of you while keeping your arms extended. Focus on flexing your chest. Keep you elbows slightly bent throughout the whole range of motion.
- Slowly go back to the start position and repeat.
A great stepping stone for anyone who’s not ready to bench or overhead press yet, but still wants to load up a bit to grow their muscles.
Also a good choice for anyone with shoulder mobility issues that prevent them from doing regular presses.
This exercise targets the chest, the shoulders and the triceps, but by putting the bar at an angle, removes a lot of the stress that regular pressing involves.
How to do a landmine press.
- Place one end of the bar in a landmine device or wedge it against a corner (you can wrap it in a towel to prevent wall damage)
- Load up the other end and hold it with both hands in front of your chest.
- Standing with your legs shoulder width apart. Press the bar forward and up, then back down slowly and repeat.
- If you want to target the shoulder more, you can do it one handed. In this case use a split stance, with the leg opposite to the pressing arm forward and the other one behind.
- The most ubiquitous and accessible chest exercise there is. The only thing you need is the ground.
- Not only that but it is very simple to introduce different variations to increase difficulty if you find that the conventional exercise is to easy for you.
- You can add weight to your back with a backpack, do the one handed, add claps in between each and more.
- Surprisingly, I’ve found that while almost everyone knows what a push up is, most people don’t know the right way to do one, so here it goes.
How to PROPERLY do a push up
Laying flat on the ground, position you hands at chest height, shoulder width apart or a little bit wider, keep your elbows at a 45 degree angle.
Think of the push up as a moving plank. Keep your core engaged and your lower back flat.
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