The bench press and its variation, the dumbbell bench press, are excellent exercises for building a bigger chest. However, if you perform any of them too often, you risk injuring your shoulders, which you should avoid doing if you want to continue working out.
Hammer presses, a variation of the dumbbell bench press are great if you need an exercise that’s easier on your shoulders, better at balancing out your strength, or safer when you’re trying to work your muscles until they’re completely tired. Overall, the only difference between a hammer press and a dumbbell bench press is how you hold the weights.
While the hammer press primarily targets chest muscles, it will also work on the shoulders and triceps in an indirect manner.
In this article, we’ll talk about how to do hammer press properly, its benefits, and give you some tips on how to improve your form and prevent injuries.
How To Do Hammer Presses
- Sit on the end of a flat bench while holding a pair of dumbbells and putting them on your knees.
- As you lie on the flat bench, kick the dumbbells into the air with your knees.
- Use a hammer grip to bring the dumbbells up to the sides of your chest (palms facing inward)
- Exhale as you press the dumbbells up over your chest until your arms are fully extended.
- Inhale as you slowly lower the weights until you feel a stretch in your chest, and then lift them back up again.
- Repeat for the prescribed number of reps
Pro Tips For Hammer Presses
- Don’t just toss the dumbbells to the ground when you’re done. Sit up using the weight of the dumbbells by slowly lowering them towards your thighs.
- The hammer-grip dumbbell bench press reduces strain on the shoulder joints relative to the traditional dumbbell bench press. As a result, people with shoulder problems should consider switching to hammer presses. It has been argued, however, that the traditional dumbbell bench press, in which you of course employ a pronated (overhand) grip, is slightly more effective at activating the pectoralis major. Considering that the pectoralis major helps to internally rotate the shoulder joint, the pronated grip might actually let you go a little bit further into a contraction than you could without it.
- Whatever grip you employ, keep your elbows tucked into your chest at 45-degree angles to lessen the strain on your shoulder joints.
Benefits of Hammer Presses
The hammer press is a different way to do a standard flat bench dumbbell chest press, as you can see by the muscles it works and how to do it. Like other presses, this one with dumbbells has a wider range of motion than one with a barbell.
The hammer press is a great alternative to the standard bench press if you are worried about putting too much stress on your shoulders but still want to work your chest and triceps. By switching your grip so that your palms face each other, which is also called a “neutral grip,” you can ease the stress on your shoulders. The move also shifts some of the focus from the chest muscles to the triceps, but your chest muscles will still get a good pump.
If you do your chest presses with dumbbells instead of a barbell, you can also find and fix any strength imbalances in your body. If your right side is doing all the work when you bench press, the hammer press will show you right away when your left side struggles to do half of the reps in your set.
It’s a great way for bodybuilders and serious lifters to exhaust their chest muscles so their bodies can build more muscle mass through hypertrophy.
You can also keep your brain and muscles from getting used to the same routine every day by doing hammer presses. If you do the same old exercises every time you go to the gym, you’re sure to get bored and stop going.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.