You can have too much of a good thing in almost every aspect of life, and weight training is no different. The traditional and ever-popular bench press and dumbbell bench press are both brilliant moves for bulking up your chest, but overdo them and you can place undue stress on your shoulders, an area of the body that you really don’t want to injure if you want to see the inside of the gym again any time soon.
If you are worried about the strain on your shoulders but still want to work your chest and triceps, the Hammer Strength Bench Press is a great alternative to the standard bench press. “By changing your grip so your palms face each other (also known as a neutral grip), you reduce the stress on the shoulders. The move also moves some of the focus to the triceps over the chest muscles, but rest assured your pecs are still getting a good pump”.
“By using machines instead of a barbell for your chest presses, you can also identify and then work on any strength imbalances in your body”. If your right side is doing all the work in your bench press, the Hammer Strength Bench Press will quickly reveal that when your left side struggles to complete half the reps in your set.
Hammer Strength Bench Press Overview
One would use the machine bench press as a way to perform the pressing movement pattern with a focus on isolating the chest. One can better isolate certain muscle groups with a machine due to its fixed movement pattern.
- Sit on the end of the bench and lie back with the handles just below shoulder height. The handles should mimic the position of the bar when benching.
- Position your palms on the handles, inhale, and set your shoulder blades together on the bench.
- Press the handles to extension as you exhale but keep the shoulder blades packed.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
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Hammer Strength Bench Press Tips
- Many lifters use a thumbless grip with this machine variation as they feel it is easier to keep tension through the pecs and triceps rather than having to worry about squeezing the bar excessively tight.
- Squeezing the handles tightly instead of using a thumbless grip can help to improve a phenomenon known as “irradiation” which promotes greater shoulder stability.
- Keep your shoulder blades pinched together to ensure the shoulders remain in a safe position.
- Imagine you’re trying to push yourself away from the weights rather than pushing the weights away from yourself.
- If you’re feeling pain within the shoulder joint itself (specifically at the front), ensure your shoulder blades are slightly retracted and try to keep the shoulder girdle “packed”.
- Ensure you maintain some tension in your abs and don’t allow your lower back to excessive arch.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor and don’t allow the lower body to move during the set.
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