Here’s some info you can use dealing with hammer strength machines vs free weights in the gym.
Getting results for fitness and in the gym means using everything you can to effectively target muscles to get them to grow and be harder while burning fat.
You can use all of them, free weights like dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells,etc or you can use machines like cables, hammer strength(plate loaded) or regular pin weight machines you see commonly in gyms.
They all have pros in their own ways on getting you a better looking,stronger, and healthier body. If you know the pros and the differences, you are that much more effective at knowing why you’re doing something instead of just using it hoping it works eventually.
With machines, you give up using compound moves usually and maximizing the most muscle fibers being used to gain the ability to isolate each muscle to exhaustion which allows muscles you want to rest to be rested without jumping in.
The key with machines is to use correct form, if you do this, you don’t need to use as much weight and you can get a realistic view of where your progress is.
Also, if you can lift more on machines than with free weights making you want to use machines more, you aren’t crazy.
Here’s an example of the strength differences between hammer strength and free weights.
On the chest press, you can lift about 46-47% more on the hammer strength chest press than on free weight bench press.
The reason for this is because your surrounding stabilizer muscles aren’t used to hold and balance the weight like they are on free weights.
Here’s another example. Let’s say I use 4 45 pound plates on each side of the hammer strength chest press for 1 rep max, that is about 360 pounds. On a bench press, it would be 405 pounds because of the weight of the bar.
Say I can do the hammer strength for 360 for 1 rep, but if I put 360 lbs on the bench press, I can’t do 1 rep.
So if I can do 360 for 1 rep on the hammer strength, take 360 times .47 and then take 360 minus that number to get about 245 lbs.
245 lbs on the bench press should be about the same feeling as 360 on the hammer strength.
It’s not completely to the decimal accurate but it is accurate enough to use a progress measure for yourself. And it’s nice to know that when you are using weights and setting up your rep scheme for the week.
In my opinion, the hammer strength machine has alot of pros and I prefer to use it more often than the bench press. I feel it more in my chest muscles and I feel my chest responding more to it form wise than the bench press.
Also, I prefer to be sitting upright pressing, then to be on my back pushing up.
That doesn’t mean I don’t bench press at all, it is unlike any other when trying to build muscle and build up your chest.
But if you have trouble with form and want to make sure you’re hitting your chest right, you’re better off using the chest machines more often than the bench press. You still need to use free weights a those stabilizer muscles are important and can’t be left out for a very long time.
But it is definitely effective to use the machines, and focus on your form as this will assure you’re always making progress.
And now you can know how strong you are by doing the math easily above. If you can do 245 for 1 rep, then you can know to use about 225 to get 3-6 reps and 205 on the bench for about 8-12 reps to get your muscles to grow.
Without knowing that, you’re always playing a guessing game, which can still work if you challenge yourself with good form, but it’s always better to know where you are so that you can know where you want to go.
Chuck Strogish, Fitness Model
Bare Fit Blog