Jammer arms, or lever arms as they are also known, are relatively new pieces of gym equipment. The concept and design are very simple but as a home gym builder myself, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they are game-changers!
As they are quite new to the market though, many people are not using them to their maximum potential. The versatility they offer means that you can utilize them for a variety of exercises, all whilst staying within (or around) a power rack footprint.
Therefore, we’ve compiled a list in this article of the best jammer arm exercises to get a complete full-body workout with just two simple power rack attachments. Read on to ensure you’re getting the most from this piece of equipment!
If you’re reading this then chances are you already own or use jammer arms so we won’t waste time explaining them. If you want a more detailed overview of jammer arms then check out our jammer arm overview.
10 Best Jammer Arm Exercises
Whether you’re using fixed or adjustable jammer arms, there are certain exercises that are mutually beneficial. Jammer arms allow you to replicate movements done on fixed weight machines and while they won’t be optimized for every exercise, with some adjustments they can be surprisingly effective.
The best jammer arm exercises are:
- Leg press
- Chest Press
- Bent over row
- Shoulder press
- Leg extension
- Jammer arm belt squat
- Jammer arm shrug
- Glute kickback
- Jammer arm calf raise
- Jammer arm deadlift
We’ll now cover techniques and tips for each of these exercises below.
1. Leg Press
People are always trying to find leg press alternatives. Buying a leg press machine is not practical for most people, yet it’s a great exercise with multiple benefits, and jammer arms allow you to set this up on a power rack.
It’s important to note that you’re going to be stronger in this exercise than most others on the list and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get enough weight to really max out. I know people lifting >1000lbs on a standard leg press machine so don’t expect that kind of crossover to a jammer arm leg press.
For a glute/hamstring dominant exercise, set the bench to an Incline with jammer arms set above hip height when seated. For a quad-focused exercise, set the bench to a 90-degree angle and have the jammer arms positioned slightly below hip height.
You can also go old school with this exercise if you have a jammer arm straight bar attachment to do an inverted leg press.
For this, you’d position yourself on the floor and press vertically getting a greater stretch for the glutes and hamstrings. The point to note with this is that you’d still need to keep your lower back flat against the floor with no rounding of the lower spine.
2. Chest Press
The reason most people purchase jammer arms are to mix up their chest day routine at home. Everyone loves chest day and jammer arms give people a variety of ways in which you can press and target the pecs.
The best option is the seated chest press. Here, you can adjust the angle of the bench to hit either the upper, mid or lower portion of the pecs. The true benefit though is that this perfectly replicates a chest press machine that you’d find in a commercial gym and therefore carries a key benefit – mechanical tension.
By bracing yourself against the weight bench during the press, you create more total body tension which ultimately means activating more muscle fibers and better working of the target muscle group. To vary this exercise, you can also treat it as a flat bench press for some targeted isolation work.
3. Bent Over Row
One of the least popular, yet underused exercises with jammer arms is the bent-over row. The bent-over row with jammer arms allows you to get a much greater stretch and contraction than a free weight because you don’t need to focus on balancing the weight.
These can be done single-handed, double-handed (with a straight bar attachment), or even chest-supported rows for a different variation. Hammer strength row machines are among the most popular pieces of equipment in the bodybuilding industry and setting up a bench with jammer arms can give you a close alternative.
Not as good, but definitely a good exercise for back development!
4. Shoulder Press
People usually go to great lengths to include a landmine and Viking press attachment on their power racks in order to hit a variety of shoulder press movements. The shoulders are a volatile joint so having a set pathway allows for safer and more comfortable lifting for many lifters.
Jammer arms offer a good pressing alternative for both seated and standing shoulder presses. Depending on the brand of jammer arm you have, you can utilize a supinated, pronated, or neutral grip for a variety of pressing options.
The key with the seated press is setting up some safety bars below shoulder height as it can be very easy to get stuck in these exercises if you don’t set it up beforehand. For anyone that loves a landmine press, jammer arm presses can be a great alternative to test out.
5. Standing Lunge
Jammer arms can be used for either a standing lunge or a split squat depending on your personal preferences. Lunges in general are a great unilateral exercise and favored among athletes for injury prevention as well as bodybuilders for leg development.
A lot of beginners struggle with technique though because it requires balance and this becomes increasingly more difficult if you require more weight but don’t quite have the balance required to lift it. Ultimately failing to target your muscle groups effectively.
Jammer arms, therefore, act as a great isolation option for those that want the benefit of unilateral training but don’t quite have the balance needed for free weight lunges or split squats. You shouldn’t skip these exercises completely if you can’t do them but the jammer arm alternatives do offer a great isolation aspect, especially for going to failure.
6. Jammer Arm Belt Squat
A favorite among powerlifters, the jammer arm belt squat (also known as the J squat) very closely replicates the belt squat – which in itself is a very expensive piece of kit but incredibly functional and beneficial for athletes and competing lifters.
The benefit of a belt squat is that it removes spinal loading. The barbell back squat is a great total body exercise because of the number of muscle groups activated during the exercises, a minor issue however is that it places a great amount of pressure on the spine.
For any rehabbing athletes or people just looking to isolate the lower half of the body (mainly legs and glutes), the belt squat has been a revelation. Lifters utilizing this exercise at one of the most popular powerlifting gyms in the world (Westside Barbell Club) saw their squat numbers explode when they implemented belt squats as accessory work.
This is easily replicated with jammer arms and could be a contender for the best jammer arm exercise you can do. This can be done with feet planted firmly on the floor or for a greater range of motion, you can make use of plyo boxes or fitness steps.
7. Jammer Arm Shrugs
Jammer arm shrugs are relatively straightforward and replicate a shrug machine very simply. There are not too many specific tips or points to note for this exercise. Just load up the jammer arms and make use of front, side, or rear shrugs for a total trap workout.
As with the leg press note from earlier, it’s worth keeping in mind the weight capacity for your specific jammer arms. I know people like to load up the weight when it comes to shrugs (though I won’t comment on the form) so just keep in mind that you could be limited by weight with this one.
8. Glute Kickbacks
Glute kickbacks are typically a difficult exercise to replicate without a specific kickback machine, however, they are an amazing glute builder and allow you to go heavy where possible. Jammer arm glute kickbacks are relatively easy to implement and are a better option than cable machine kickbacks or other alternatives.
^^ This is mainly because you can load up more weight with a jammer arm glute kickback. It’s not that more weight alone is always beneficial, but it is when other factors remain the same.
It can be tricky to get set up for glute kickback, mainly because you need something to brace against. If your power rack is set up close to a wall, place your weight bench horizontally inside and use this to lean your hands on and brace yourself against.
You can also set a barbell up inside the rack on some J-hooks like in the video above. The reason I’ve mentioned two methods is so that you can vary the starting angle for your body and therefore the area that you are targeting for the glutes/hamstrings.
9. Jammer Arm Calf Raises
One of the most difficult muscle groups to train at a home gym is the calves. People already struggle to develop calves, however, most of the exercises usually involve a dedicated weight machine. Jammer arms can be used as a viable alternative for calf raises.
Firstly, standing calf raises can be done as long as you have something to wedge under the balls of your feet for a better range of motion. A block of 2 x 4 wood does work but as the last option, simply use the feet of your weight bench.
With a straight bar attachment and some padding, you can also perform a seated calf raise. This can be a bit trickier to get into the correct position but in order to fully develop your calves, you need to do raises with both your leg straight and with a bend at the knee to target the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
10. Jammer Arm Deadlift
A jammer arm deadlift is the last option on this list and definitely a good one to finish up with. The deadlift is a compound exercise that should mainly be done using a barbell so that your movement is not restricted by a fixed pathway.
Where jammer arm deadlifts can come in useful is for doing any deficit deadlifts (where you are raised off the ground) to work on the bottom portion of a deadlift or for doing some unilateral single arm deadlifts to work on any imbalances – Ideal for injury prevention as well.
Finally, jammer arm deadlifts are great for performing RDLs or stiff leg deadlifts. This is because many people find it difficult to really feel their hamstrings or glutes engaging when doing these exercises with a barbell or dumbbell, too much effort is made balancing the weight.
With jammer arms, the fixed movement pathway removes one variable and allows you to focus more on the stretch and contraction during the exercise which in turn will lead to better muscle activation and growth.
Key Considerations with Jammer Arm use
We’ve given you some good exercises to test but before you jump straight onto jammer arm training, there are some additional factors to keep in mind with their use.
Firstly, for any kind of exercise that doesn’t have the jammer arms set vertically (a seated chest press or leg press is a vertical position), make sure you have safety bars set in place.
This is something people often forget about but if you’ve reached failure on an overhead shoulder press, you need to be able to set them down easily just below the range of motion.
Secondly, when using a bench to support exercises like a seated chest press or chest supported row, you need to make sure the weight bench is heavy-duty, secured in place, and won’t move around during the exercise. We’re trying to replicate weight machines with jammer arms but the construction of home gym equipment isn’t the same.
If possible, use a semi-commercial or commercial-grade weight bench and make sure it’s set on rubber flooring to prevent movement. If you have a cheap bench on hardwood flooring, it will likely move around during an exercise and you risk injury.
Finally, experiment with angles for each lift and make notes of the ideal range of motion based on a bench position. Anyone that has used a smith machine will understand the little dance you do with the bench trying to line it up perfectly in the center. You then go to press and find it’s not the ideal position and need to wiggle it around…
Marking out pin positions along with where you place the bench for certain exercises can save you a lot of time messing around trying to get everything positioned correctly in between exercises.