Machines versus free weights. It’s the argument that never ends and it can even be one-upped by adding a third option – Hammer Strength Machines, which are a hybrid of both. And that means you get the best of both worlds.
The main reason why people prefer free weights is because you get a better workout using them over machines. You tax the muscles more and that, of course, gives you more growth. Working the main muscle and incorporating secondary ones (and stabilizing muscles, as well) all are emphasized more by using barbells and dumbbells.
So why bother with machines? They do have a number of positive attributes to them and the first one is that they are perfect for a beginner to get used to lifting. Also, machines have a much lower risk of injury and are frequently used when rehabbing injuries. But there are other good points about them that even an experienced lifter can benefit from.
The variety aspect is attractive and you can mix up entire routines with machines. And there are certain ones that hit any muscle from a particular angle that is hard to duplicate with a free weight due to the control factor the machines give you. You can isolate a certain part of the muscle with them that would be difficult to do with a weight.
When you use a Hammer Strength machine, you can get those unique benefits and still use free weights because of the design of the apparatuses. And they also offer the opportunity to pile on the plates and bang out even more weight that you would do with a barbell, something that you rarely get with machines.
Another good point about Hammers is that you can use them without having a spotter. Because they are frequently used for chest and shoulders, training alone with them comes in handy when you would have to find someone to spot you or use lighter weight with a barbell.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common Hammer Strength machines you’ll find in the gym:
FLAT BENCH PRESS
Not the best of the Hammers by a long shot, but it gets the job done. A good option if you don’t have another choice at that time.
INCLINE BENCH PRESS
Much better than the flat machine, the incline Hammer is a much smoother one to use and gives a great pump.
DECLINE BENCH PRESS
Perhaps the best of the bunch, doing declines on this Hammer gives you the opportunity to really hit your lower chest hard without the blood rushing to your head and doing the limbo on a regular decline bench.
There are a bunch of Hammer Strength machines designed for back exercises and most of them are of the rowing variety. Overhead, underhand, overhand… pretty much every option you can think of. And all of them are pretty good, too, and hit the lats from all different angles.
The most basic Hammer for delts is a seated military press and it can really torture you (in a good way, of course). You’ll feel as if your front delts are going to explode even using moderate weight here.