Updated: Feb 16
Hammer training improves whole-body fitness
I don’t care what anyone says, you can’t beat a good hammer training session. After 5, 10 or (if you’ve got the rocks for it) 20-minutes of smashing that lump of pig iron into a big old tractor tyre, you’re left feeling as though every fibre in your body has been wrung dry of energy.
For hours afterwards your forearms throb and your hands ache as though you’ve been clinging on to a cliff face for dear life. Ahh, you can’t beat it!
Hammer training improves strength
Hammer training is a classic strength and conditioning exercise that combat athletes – mainly boxers – have been making use of for years. Before the advent of tyres boxers of old would hack at tree stumps with an axe or ‘chop wood’.
However, striking wood is not as physically beneficial because you aren’t forced to control the recoil of the axe – as you are with the hammer. Instead you’ve got to spend five minutes after each chop dislodging the axe blade from the wood. Furthermore, thanks to the shock absorption properties of rubber, repetitive impact injuries are significantly reduced.
So you can whack away at that tyre for hours without worrying about developing a nasty case of tendonitis.
Hammer training engages the major muscle groups
The primary muscles worked when hammer training are forearms, back (primarily latissimus dorsi), cardiac (heart), and that blob of fat and water between your ears (aka mental resolve).
But due to the dynamic nature of the hammer, you can also add a squat into the movement – as you deliver a smash into the tyre – thus recruiting the muscles of the legs. In short, with hammer training you can develop whole-body functional fitness.
Forge core strength with the training hammer
Also, after a five or ten minute fight with the hammer your core muscles will not have escape unscathed. All that twisting and tensing, contracting and controlling, bending and beating . . . a couple of weeks of hammer work and your core will take on the rigidity and firmness as a block of iron that’s been forged over an anvil.
How start hammer training
Before playing with your hammer there are a couple of points that you really ought to consider. The first is safety.
Of course, every exercise presents an element of risk; but some exercises pose a much greater risk than others. If we were to draw up a 10 point scale of risk with tiddlywinks at 1 and walking across busy roads blindfolded at 10, the hammer would come in at a healthy 6. It’s for this reason why the beginner should approach with caution.
I shan’t labour the point any further, though I will finish with a long list of precautions. When using the hammer always ensure:
That you have plenty of space around you
That there are no entrances or exits within swinging distance
That you are visible from every angle - you don't want someone copping a face full of forged iron as they walk round a blind corner
That the hammer is good quality and the end is not likely to fly off (best to buy a one piece hammer)
That you keep your eyes fixed on the meaty end when striking the tyre
That you step to the side as the hammer passes your legs
That you are wearing non-slip training gloves
That it is daylight or the lights are on – don’t swing your hammer in the dark!
Hammer training method
You can keep things nice and simple and set a countdown timer for 5, 10, or 20-minutes, and aim to complete as many reps as possible in the set time. Or there is the option of aiming for a specific number of repetitions – best to stick to multiples of ten (each side). With either of the two options it is a good idea to make a note of your scores. This way you will have a benchmark to compete against next time.
You can advance on the classic 360° rotation movement by bringing the hammer down explosively while sinking into a squat. And then there’s the option of incorporating the hammer into a circuit, HIIT, EMOM, or AMRAP workout
Hammer training milestones to aim for
5 minutes continuous (rep rate)
10 minutes continuous (rep rate)
20 minute continuous (rep rate)
30 minutes continuous (rep rate)
250 slams (best effort)
500 slams (best effort)
750 slams (best effort)
1000 slams (best effort)
This article would be unbalanced if I neglected to identify the inherent limitations of the hammer. The first limitation is that if you don't have a tyre you are restricted to the exercises you can perform with your hammer. However, believe it or not, tractor tyres can be purchased off Amazon.
Another limitation of hammer training is space. If you happen to live in a one bedroom fourth floor flat, you might want to stop reading this article and instead read my article on resistance bands, as they require little more space than is afforded in the average phone box and are so silent you wouldn’t wake a baby.
However, if you can find a patch of open concrete and a farmer kind enough to bung you a tyre you’ll have yourself a brilliant piece of exercise equipment that’ll last you a lifetime. And don’t forget, with that tyre you can also perform many strength and conditioning exercises – such as the farmers’ walk, dead-lifts, squats, flips.
Best training hammers
I think you’ll agree that I’ve waffled on long enough about hammer training and the associative benefits. You’ll have to forgive me, it’s hard not to get over-excited when discussing excellent training principles. But now it’s time to look at some hammers!
Normally I’d provide you with a bit of spiel regarding the merit and worth of each product; but that’s hardly necessary for a piece of exercise equipment that only has to satisfy two simple requirements.
Requirement 1: the weight is accurate
Requirement 2: that it’s made from one-piece cast iron
Gravity fitness hammer 6kg-30kg
The Gravity Fitness Hammer is one of the best rated products on the market. With over 40 5-star reviews, they are the king of hammers. Forged from cast iron, they promise to remain a faithful training partner for years to come. Considerate of all fitness levels, the hammer weights range from: 6kg, 8kg, 10kg, 15kg, 25kg, and 30kg.
Gorilla Sports Pro Gym Hammer
The Gorilla Sports Pro Gym Hammer has been built for the serious trainer. There's no gimmicks or snazzy logos. Just a one-piece lump of steel coated in vulcanised black paint. Clearly this beauty was built for those who care only for fitness gains. The hammer weights range from 6kg up to 30kg, meaning, irrespective of your strength, there's a hammer for you.
Synergee fitness hammer
The Synergee Fitness Steel Hammer is a work of art. Forged from one piece of industrial grade steel, they guarantee to last a lifetime. And the high-quality mat-black finish will ensure they keep their looks after years of slamming. Synergee's training hammers feature an extra deep knurling along the handle to improve grip. These hammers start at 5lb and increase in 5lb increments up to 20lbs.
Capital Sports Big Knock Training Hammer
The Capital Sports 'Big Knock' Training Hammer boasts a one-piece cast steel design. With no weld points there are no weaknesses around the hammer. This prevents breaks and snaps where the handle inserts into the head. In addition, the 3-inch thick knurled handle will dramatically improve grip strength. Weights range from 6kg through to 20kg.
Final thoughts on hammer training
The training hammer is certainly one of the best function fitness forging pieces of exercise equipment. This simple training tool will help you build whole-body strength and muscular endurance.
In addition, hammer training offers a unique alternative to improve general fitness. A 10-minute tyre smashing AMRAP will engage every muscles in your body while also incinerating fat.
And while they have their limitations, they more than pay back the initial investment in future fitness dividends. Also, unlike lots of fitness training equipment, when you buy a training hammer and a tractor tyre, you'll never need to replace them!