What is a hammer press and how effective is it?

Fitness is a huge part of our lives, and we’ve all got body goals we’re trying to reach or maintain. If you’ve been around fitness enthusiasts, you’ve probably heard the term “hammer press.” So, what exactly does it mean? What’s the impact on the body? And does it involve actual hammers?

Health Makes You is committed to keeping you informed, so we’ve answered the questions you may have about hammer presses. Let’s get started!

What is a hammer press?

The hammer press is an upper-body strength exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, and arms. The Hammer Press is a helpful exercise for building muscles, losing weight, and strength training. Like all exercises, it’s critical to employ appropriate form and technique for the best outcomes and safety.

man doing the hammer press fitness exercise

The hammer press is an excellent alternative to conventional bench presses if you’re concerned about shoulder pain but still wish to strengthen your chest, shoulders, and arms. You can relieve shoulder tension by shifting your grip such that your palms face each other (also known as a neutral grip). This technique also shifts some of the stress away from the chest muscles and into the arms.

You can perform the hammer press with both free weights and machines. Hammer press machines offer greater control and minimize the risk of injury. They’re also often used for injury rehabilitation treatment.

Hammer strength chest press machines

Hammer strength machines provide a range of shoulder-strengthening workouts. They provide varied and increasing resistance, which enhances their effectiveness. This enables you to change the weight to suit your training objectives, whether to build muscle or increase strength and endurance.

Man using a hammer strength chest press machine

The seat adjusts for various heights and features a belt to keep you in place when pressing heavy weights. The back pad is designed to keep your back from overextending. The motion is simple to pick up. Push the bars upwards and lower them back to their original position with your arms over your shoulders.

How to do a hammer press

A standard hammer press is relatively easy to perform. 

  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie on a level surface, preferably a bench. 
  • Maintain a neutral hold on the dumbbells as you bring them up to the sides of your chest. 
  • Raise the dumbbells over your chest and completely stretch your arms. 
  • Slowly lower the weights until your chest stretches, then press them above once again.

There are several other variations of the hammer press, and we’re going to show you how to do a few of them.

Hammer press variations

1. Incline hammer press

The upper chest muscles will take on more stress if you perform the hammer press on an inclined bench. Set up a 45-degree angle on a bench and lie down with a dumbbell in each hand at your chest in a neutral grip. Raise the weights over your chest, then lower them slowly and steadily.

2. Decline hammer press

Set up a 45-degree angle on a level bench or use a decline bench. Sit on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand and place them on your thighs.

As you raise the dumbbells to chest level, lie back and secure your feet beneath the pads. Keep a steady, controlled pace as you press the dumbbells up, ensuring that you are pressing over your sternum. This is ideal for training your lower chest area.

3. Hammer strength chest press

This exercise is performed on a hammer strength weight machine. It’s done like a dumbbell chest press or a machine chest press; the only difference is the machine itself.

Begin by placing your feet flat on the ground and pressing your back against the inclined seat. To work the outside chest, take a broad hold on the handles or a tighter grip to target the inside chest more. 

Raise the weight over your head while keeping your elbows tucked (not flared). Keep going until your elbows are just slightly bent, then return to the beginning position and repeat.

Should you do a hammer press?

Hammer press helps you to discover any strength imbalances in your body and improve on them. If your left side is performing all of the work in the bench press, the hammer press will immediately expose this when your right side battles to finish half of your set.

This exercise is excellent for building upper body strength and power, which eases everyday tasks like pushing heavy doors, shopping carts, and strollers. Hammer presses are also beneficial to athletes in sports that utilize the upper body, such as Swimming, Tennis, and Baseball.

Improved fitness and stronger bones are two other reasons to consider hammer press training.

How often should you do a hammer press?

It’s vital to note that performing more reps and lifting heavy weights isn’t necessarily the key to muscle growth. If you overdo them, you risk putting unnecessary stress on your shoulders, which is a region of the body you don’t want to hurt. 

Striking a balance between total training intensity and recovery is crucial for fitness training. Too much training volume and not enough recovery time might stifle progress. However, insufficient training is just as bad.

With that in mind, aim for 2-3 times per week with at least one day off between workouts. Note that the more frequently you hammer press, the less you should do per session.

How effective is a hammer press?

The hammer press is one of the most effective exercises for building upper body strength. With a hammer press, you’re targeting the pectorals. However, the triceps, anterior deltoids, biceps, muscles tissue, and strength are all worked out, making this a flexible addition to any upper-body day regimen.

You’ll develop muscle, burn fat, and burn calories even when you’re not working out.

Hammer presses are great for upper body training. If you’re looking to work out your lower body, try these exercises.


As mentioned earlier, more isn’t better when weightlifting, so remember to pace yourself. A healthy balance of rest and recovery is essential for muscular and strength development. Overtraining can occur if you don’t give yourself enough time to recover, which might stop your progress.

Taking a day off following a chest workout is typically a good idea. However, it all depends on your fitness level, the intensity of your workout, and other factors.

Jude Uchella

Jude Uchella is a passionate research writer whose work has been published on many reputable platforms, including MSN, Wealth of Geeks, and more! He prioritizes research, writes comprehensively, and only shares factual and helpful content. He is a reader’s delight!

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