The Lose Weight Diet Blog

Personal Trainer tip: The magical Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine.

September 14, 2006
Filed under: The Gym — TheLoseWeightDiet @ 4:16 pm

Last time, I gave a brief description of the personal trainers at my gym. If you missed it, go read it now. I’ll wait.

All caught up? Great. Here’s a little story…

So one day, I was on the seated barbell press (military press), which of course is a shoulder exercise. But, that’s not really important right now. What is important however is the piece of equipment located directly next to this. It’s a machine by a company called Hammer Strength. Their stuff is fairly common in most gyms.

Anyway, this was the Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine. Judging by its name, you know that it too is a shoulder exercise. Here’s what it looks like:

Hammer Strength Shoulder Press

It’s very simple. You sit in it with your back against the pad and press those two black bars straight over head. It’s really just like any other shoulder exercise and machine. So far, so good, right?

So there I am barbell pressing about 5 feet to the left of the Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine when all of a sudden I spot an overweight man and a red-shirted woman. I mention the red shirt because that is the official color the personal trainers in my gym wear. The shirts even say “Personal Trainer” right on them. I’ve never looked closely enough, but there may even be a name tag of some sort on the front as well.

And, as we all know, nothing says “I’m a certified professional” quite like a name tag.

It quickly became obvious to me that this was not an actual training session. This was a tour. They do this all the time. Someone joins (or is thinking of joining) and a personal trainer escorts them through the gym pointing stuff out and explaining things to them.

They seemed to be going from machine to machine while I’m assuming the trainer told the overweight man what muscle the machine worked, and how to properly use it. I’m not exactly sure what was said then, because I was too far away to hear/didn’t care.

That was until they stopped by the Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine.

It was then that I was close enough to hear the fantastic advice this poor overweight man was receiving from one of my gym’s genius personal trainers. And boy was it fantastic!

The first thing I heard was the trainer describe the machine as “another great weight loss exercise.” That made me laugh. The guy must have mentioned that his goal was weight loss. Because of that, the personal trainer must just be adding the term “weight loss” to the beginning of every single exercise.

The overweight man, I guess being so intrigued by the machine’s supposed weight loss capabilities, proceeded to ask “What muscle is this one for?” I expected to hear an answer to that question within a second. I expected to hear “It’s a shoulder exercise.” The thing is, I never heard that.

Instead this personal trainer walked halfway around the machine trying to discern what in the hell it does. She was pushing things, and moving things, and sitting on things, and lifting things… all for the purpose of trying to figure out that the Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine is a shoulder exercise.

After about 1 full minute of research, she finally had her answer…

“It’s a bicep machine.”

This is not a lie. This is not a joke. This is not an exaggeration. This is truth.

“This is a great bicep exercise. You stand like this and lift these.”

When she gave the above description, she was literally standing behind the machine. She had her chest leaning up against the back side of the back pad, and she was very awkwardly curling those 2 black bars that you’re supposed to be pressing over head. It was easily the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.

But wait, it gets better. Seriously.

After she was finished explaining to this poor overweight man how the Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine has magically transformed into the Extremely Awkward Hammer Strength Bicep machine, they went on their way to the other side of the gym to I’m sure show off some other great weight loss exercises.

It was then that I remembered something. Hmmmm. Could it be? Is it still there? I know it used to be there, but… it can’t still be there. No… it can’t be. Hmmmm. I took a 5 foot stroll over to the machine in question and walked around to the right side of it. I looked up slightly and there is was… just as I remembered it.

It was an 8 inch wide, 12 inch long, laminated sign. On the top of it, in huge bold letters, it said:


And right under that was a complete description of the proper way to perform this exercise along with a list of which muscle group(s) the exercise targets. It must have said “shoulder” on it about 15 times.

So, there you have it. Before you go out and hire a personal trainer, bare in mind that the personal trainers at my gym (which is one of the biggest fitness chains in the world, by the way) are apparently skilled enough to A) not know a shoulder exercise from a bicep exercise and B) not be able to read a giant sign that says “shoulder exercise.”

Stay tuned next time for more wonderful tales of my gym’s clueless personal trainers.

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16 Responses to “Personal Trainer tip: The magical Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine.”

  1. invah Says:

    Don’t personal trainers have to have some sort of certification?

  2. TheLoseWeightDiet Says:

    Yup. And I’m not doubting the fact that every trainer who works in my gym has that certification. It’s just that apparently… it’s not too hard to get.

    It’s sort of like when you’re driving and someone pulls some kind of insanely dangerous move and you wonder “How in the hell did this person actually get a licence in the first place?”

    Any idiot can do it.

  3. Howie Jacobson Says:

    The really troublesome thing is, trainers are conditioned to think that pushing gym equipment up and down or side to side is serving some purpose.

    Working individual muscles in isolation is for bodybuilders whose only goal is grotesque muscular definition. For the rest of us, trying to look good and feel good and be active and free of pain, gym machines are a waste of time or worse – a dangerous set of isoated movements that will promote injury in the long run.

    The human body is the machine we should be learning how to use correctly – not the Hammer Strength Shoulder Press or any other big piece of steel and enamel.

  4. Eiki Says:

    Absolutely Brilliant! It’s a wonder anyone gets anywhere anymore 😉

  5. Eiki Says:

    Hey, what’s up :) Any blog coming soon? Love your writings!

  6. JJ Says:

    I see this one guy put like 5 plates on each side of one of those machines, and he has another guy stand behind him and basically lift it up for him. What is that point! Lookin forward to another blog!

  7. Uurp Says:

    The best way to build muscle with these machines is by picking them up and carrying them around the gym.

    Freeweights are best.

  8. Umair Says:

    Why is everyone dissing the shoulder press machine?

  9. May Says:

    I’m a personal trainer/figure competitor myself. Pretty funny stuff you got here! But not to forget, strength training should never be neglected, because it is what keeps ur metabolism up and lose that weight and/or just to keep it off!
    God Bless!

  10. smart trainer Says:

    Hello. I am a certified personal trainer and a respiratory therapist. I think it is horrible how some gyms will hire anyone. I have worked as a trainer for fifteem years. Took a few years off from the gym and had a family. Wanted to return to work as a trainer again and could barely find a job. I applied at a very well known facility and the “head trainer” had no clue what range of motion was, plus he was grossly over weight. He was leaning on the equipment at one point counting out loud at a female client lifiting too much weight! I now started my own business because of the insane uninformed personal trainers I wanted to avoid as my boss!

  11. RaymonWazerri Says:

    I love what you’e doing!
    Don’t ever change and best of luck.

    Raymon W.

  12. mary Says:


  13. John Prelauche Says:

    I’ve had a trainer that told me eating cream cheese is good for weight lifting and it will help me achieving muscle cuts.

  14. Dan Says:

    Please don’t even tell me about a YMCA! Last June I moved 4 houses away from a YMCA. This YMCA is in a very upscale suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. I left a great gym and a ton of good knowledgeable lifting partners. 70% of the people weight training here are completely clueless. I have to beg the staff to put up a “Please return your weights” sign. The main personal trainer has everyone he trains working out with rubber bands!! Why are the weights even there? I have been lifting about 12 years. I don’t know it all by far, but please, don’t walk in front of my mirror space quite yet; I only have 3 reps left!! I hate rich spoiled people! nice Blog!

  15. Martin Says:

    Oh dear. Luckily she didn’t try to turn the client upsidedown to reveal the shoulder press is actually a ‘leg press’

    I’m a Personal Trainer in the UK and firmly believe that all trainers (qualified of course) should be creative – but there is a limit.

    When I was a trainee (nearly 18 years ago) I remember questioning my teachers about their methods and techniques. They knew the theory but had no idea about the practical aspects of weight training. They even started asking me for advice! I got the qualification but realised that I needed more so went to University. The fact is, after 18 years I am still learning – and proud of it.

    Anyone out there who is looking for a Personal Trainer should not be afraid to ask about their qualifications. After all, it is your body so don’t let some ‘muppet’ break it for you.

  16. Lex Says:

    What I don’t understand is that if you are a personal trainer, set examples for your clients. To an earlier point that someone made, anyone can be a called a personal trainer or even a certified one. you can bet your certification online for god sake. if your personal trainer is overweight, ask for another person. ask for a person who has a degree in kinesiology and who actually understands the body and nutrition. Credible trainers also have nutrition background. When I see trainers who are overweight, who puffs their shoulders around when they walk, irritates the crap out of me. I just laugh and shake my head. =)