The Origins of an Iconic Strength Training Brand

Hammer Strength builds champions, but who built Hammer Strength?

For more than 25 years, Hammer Strength has been dedicated to creating performance equipment for not only elite athletes, but those with the focus and determination to want to train like one. When Gary Jones founded Hammer Strength, he had everyone in mind.

“It’s kind of ironic that I’m known for building machines that are used by (professional sports teams),” said Jones. “My intense interest is actually helping even little old ladies. The motion your grandmother uses to put a suitcase in the overhead compartment is exactly the same motion, the same ergonomics, the same everything as Shaquille O’Neal dunking a basketball. The only thing that changes is the speed of motion and the force.”

While his main audience wasn’t little old ladies, he paved the path for what Hammer Strength would became—a pioneer of smart performance strength training.

Hammer Strength Products

In 1989, Jones began creating his own line of strength equipment called Hammer Strength. A partnership with the Brown family, owners of the Cincinnati Bengals, and a slew of elite athletes helped Jones craft strength-training machines that simplified the biomechanics of lifting weights while matching machine movement to human motion.

The unique thing about starting Hammer Strength were my partners, the Brown family, the founders of the NFL. That gave us unique access to world-class athletes. It gave me access to all kinds of famous athletes because of the connection. Basically, we were a living laboratory of constantly evolving ideas to help these athletes improve their performance on the field.

- Gary Jones, Hammer Strength Founder

Jones spent most his waking hours working on Hammer Strength products. He designed a proprietary 3D CAD software to design Hammer Strength machines. And, he moved his family into the factory.

“When running a factory you’re busy in the daytime,” explained Jones. “But in the evenings when things calm down, it gives you a chance to think about how to make things better, how to be more efficient, how to improve the product. Living in the factory did away with major distractions. When I would think of an idea or a problem, after hours I could walk into the factory and look at the products and figure out better solutions.”

  • Gary Jones with CAD Software on Computer
    Gary Jones with CAD Software on Computer
  • 3D CAD Software
    3D CAD Software
  • Gary Jones and Augie Nieto
    Gary Jones and Augie Nieto
  • Hewlett-Packard CADD/CAM System
    Hewlett-Packard CADD/CAM System
  • Gary Jones
    Gary Jones

The result of the countless hours of work was a robust plate-loaded line, Iso-Lateral strength equipment with converging and diverging independent motion, and Ground Base equipment, which requires exercisers to do their lifting while standing.

“Hammer Strength was the first to apply, commercially, ergonomics and alignment of the joints’ motion to commercial products," said Jones. "An important part of innovation is gradual progress. The Wright brothers didn’t invent a 747—that came along a thousand ideas later. I worked as a firefighter, and they taught us that our job was to make things better for the people in need, right here, right now. We’ve taken that sense of urgency, and that sense of incremental improvement on a rapid pace to evolve and improve the product."

Gary Jones used an exercise philosophy of helping people through simpler, safer and more effective movements. He created a thriving brand that builds champions—whether they’re elite athletes or “little old ladies.”

Added Jones: “How many people can say, ‘we make products that improve peoples’ lives?’ And how many people can say, ‘we make people better?’”