In 1989, a man named Gary Jones revolutionised the way we train in the weight room. He created a brand called Hammer Strength, a company who designs plate-loaded equipment for commercial gyms.
Today, Hammer Strength is part of the respected fitness giant, Life Fitness. Currently, they make more than 80 Hammer Strength workout stations, which all have a reputation for being highly durable. Hence, these machines are extremely popular with universities and health clubs, who need equipment that will tolerate constant daily use from its members.
The belief that Hammer Strength stations are effective for building muscle and strength is virtually a consensus in fitness circles. Since the movement patterns feel so natural, everyone from pro athletes to regular gym folk flock to their trademark machines. And with enough consistency, many achieve excellent results.
However, the idea of a Smith machine being a useful training tool is still a hotly debated topic. Like a polarising politician, some people love everything it stands for—safety and ease of use—while others hate its guts.
We usually focus on home Smith machine products. But for today, we've gone commercial. We're taking a look at the Hammer Strength Smith Machine to see if it's as effective as their plate-loaded workout stations!
You'll immediately notice that Hammer Strength Smith machines have a 7-degree slant built into their frames. Although angled Smith machines are also hotly debated, most believe that they promote more natural movement patterns than their linear counterparts. Since nobody but robots can lift completely vertically, the slight angle is thought to make your reps more productive (that is, feel more like lifting free weights).
While the frame isn't linear in design, the guide rods do benefit from linear bearings. Unlike plastic bushings, linear bearings eliminate friction by distributing the load evenly across the barbell.
Like any well-oiled machine, this allows the components to glide fluidly along their intended path. What this means for us is that we can get a more effective workout because we don't experience any annoying sticking points during our reps.
Although the 295kg (650lbs) weight capacity makes the HS Smith Machine a playground for advanced lifters who want to test their strength, it's equally useful for beginners.
With a starting weight of just 9kg (20lbs), novice lifters can learn the proper form without being forced to lift a heavy barbell from day one. This ease of use makes them more likely to stick around in the gym, and it also prevents injuries.
Since Hammer Strength built their reputation on providing machines with natural movement patterns, it's no surprise that their Smith machine follows suit. As mentioned, the machine's bar path follows a 7-degree angle to promote the correct training technique on key exercises.
Although this doesn't eliminate the need for proper form, it does ensure that your joints are pre-aligned in a more optimal position.
Of course, the nice benefit for us is that we're stronger this way since we can generate more power. However, the 7-degree slant may also reduce injury risk since some exercises, like bench press, can feel incredibly awkward when you press the bar without arching it back.
The 14 lockout points are also useful for minimising injury risk since you can easily re-rack the bar at any point during the set.
Further, the knurling on the bar enables you to maintain a secure grip, which has two benefits. First, a firm grip helps you to generate more power, which speeds up strength gains. And second, you're less likely to lose control of the bar when your grip is solid.
The 8 storage pegs come complete with a labelling system and are particularly useful in the commercial gym environment because they encourage members to put their weights in the correct places.
If you're based in Britain, then the Exigo Smith Machine is another great, homegrown option for commercial facilities.
The unfortunate thing about living in Britain (besides the rain, of course) is that you don't often find gyms with Hammer Strength machines. So when my local gym kitted out their facility with Hammer Strength stations—I was thrilled, because I knew that their stuff had a reputation for durability.
And after working out on their Smith machine for over 18 months, I can confirm that their reputation is well-deserved.
For starters, the Hammer Strength Smith Machine parts are extremely heavy-duty. The frame, for example, consists of 11 gauge steel, which is the thickest, most durable metal available for making gym equipment.
The frame also comes complete with an electrostatic powder coat. This type of finish is a must-have for commercial gyms because it makes the unit highly resistant to scratches, heavy impact and ultraviolet light, all of which can wreak havoc on machines over time if adequate protection isn't employed.
Finally, at a weight of 289kg, the stability of the HS Smith machine speaks for itself. Suffice to say this behemoth didn't budge an inch when I put it through its paces.
Naturally, this is great for gym owners because the unit doesn't rock around and cause damage to the floor. It keeps users safe, too, because the frame doesn't wobble when you go heavy, which is a common occurrence with cheaper products.
Hammer Strength has equipped their Smith machine with dual adjustable safety catches to allow users to dictate their own range of motion. This design choice is great for keeping people safe since, if the user ever does get stuck, the safety stops will bear the load and get them out of harm's way.
Also, the walkthrough design allows safe access from both sides. You don't need to awkwardly climb over a bench to access the machine's internal workout area. Aside from reducing trip hazards, this provides the user with more training space so that they can enjoy a comfortable workout.
One thing's for sure. Assembling a Smith machine is a hassle. And with commercial products, the setup is even more challenging. Still, Hammer Strength machines don't require that much maintenance .
Not only do you need mechanical skill and the patience of a saint, especially to decipher the often confusing assembly instructions. But you also need half a day and six pairs of hands (that is, help from two other competent people).
Alternatively, you can pay an expert a few hundred pounds per machine and save yourself the trouble.
Thankfully, there is a third way. Unlike other companies, Life Fitness will assemble your Smith machine free of charge. This saves you a ton of time, stress and money. Plus, it allows you to focus on more important tasks.
The current free installation deal also applies to their other models, such as the Life Fitness Smith Machine.
However, I can't guarantee that their free installation will be around forever. I don't know what plans the company has. Things change, and they could easily scrap the offer if they wanted to.
My only advise to you is to get in quick if you want the VIP treatment. If you're interested in their current deal, then you can claim your free delivery, free installation and get the lowest price via the link below.
The Hammer Strength Smith Machine bar weight is 9kg/20lbs .
Like any gym equipment, you'll need to lubricate the Hammer Strength Plate Loaded Smith Machine periodically to keep it running smoothly. However, due to its higher quality components, it requires far less lubrication than cheaper products, which often demand daily WD-40 to function.
You can do squats, bench presses and virtually any exercise that you'd do with free weight equipment. If you're wondering how to use Hammer Strength Smith machine systems to their fullest potential, here's some inspiration:
Chest: incline presses, decline presses, flat presses
Back: deadlifts, underhand rows, overhand rows, shrugs
Shoulders: seated presses, behind-the-neck presses, lateral raises, rear delt rows
Arms: close-grip bench presses, triceps extensions, drag curls, bicep curls
Legs: squats, lunges, step ups, RDLs, hip thrusts, calf raises
Prices vary depending on your location (UK vs USA). However, if you're based in Britain, or America then you can click here to check the current price.
You can order it from the official Life Fitness website . However, if you order through an official distributor, you might be able to get an even better deal. Prices often change in the gym equipment world.
The Life Fitness Hammer Strength Smith Machine is a reliable workout station that'll tolerate constant use in the commercial gym environment. Its 289kg frame supports loads of up to 295kg and thanks to the electrostatic powder coat finish it won't degrade in quality or function anytime soon.
This commercial-grade unit comes with a 10-year frame warranty and a 5-year guarantee on the bearing system. Some other so-called "commercial Smith machines" that I've reviewed only have a 2-year warranty. Not exactly what I'd call peace of mind.
If you're a commercial gym owner or are buying for a large facility, then I'm confident that the Hammer Smith machine is a sound investment. While it's more expensive than the average product, you won't have to upgrade your equipment for a long, long time.