Throughout your bodybuilding career, you frequently used Hammer Strength equipment. What is it that you liked about these machines?
It’s true that I incorporated Hammer Strength exercises into my Mr. Olympia training routines, and I still use them today. I started using Hammer Strength machines in early ’94. I’m actually not a big fan of machines in general — I prefer free weights.
However, Hammer Strength machines are well designed. The equipment follows the motion of the muscles being trained and is almost like a cross between free weights and machines. For instance, during the bench press, your hands are brought down across your body so that your pecs are contracted at the top of the movement. With most other machines, you are simply pushing in a straight line, as if you are pressing a barbell.
I also found that Hammer Strength machines helped me to work around some of my injuries. I had some minor shoulder irritation that was worsened by benching with free weights. With Hammer Strength equipment, I could work around the injury. I didn’t have to worry about balancing the weight or getting it into position before starting a set. I could focus on working the muscles.
The same goes for back machines. I used to do reverse-grip pulldowns on a lat machine before I ever touched a piece of Hammer Strength equipment. When the Hammer Strength version came out, I was pleased. What I like most about it is the arc of the pulling movement. On a lat machine, the pulldown motion is in a straight line, but the function of the lats is to pull both down and back, so the Hammer Strength machine is more effective. The seated row is equally good and is something I used quite a bit. I especially liked to perform these in single-arm fashion. In fact, I became known as such a proponent of this exercise that I was later consulted during the development of a reverse-grip rowing machine.
I must admit that I am not such a fan of Hammer Strength lowerbody lowerbody machines as I am the upper. It’s just a matter of preference. I suppose it’s harder for machines to accurately duplicate the range of motion of the legs than of the upper body.
I encourage you to give Hammer Strength equipment a try, especially the first generation version. You may find that it doesn’t work the same way for you that it did for me, or you may discover that it’s a great addition to your own training program. - FLEX