T Nation

Behind-the-Neck Press: Why and How?


Yes, I was just wondering.

Love program designing


I feel your pain. I’ve had serious injury to my thumb and hand as well. What really helped me was using Fat Gripz. If your wrist is hurting they help relieve the pressure on it because of the better position. Using those and keeping the PBN weight low (just a few sets of 15-20 reps with just the barbell) gave me enough shoulder work while also rebuilding strength in my wrist.
The Fat Gripz make it possible to change your thumb position more so you can find the least painfull grip. Also they force you to keep your elbows in the right position for the PBN.


Had surgery done last week, should be back fully operational next week hopefully, didn’t really think of fat gripz back then. Keeping a wide grip helped a ton on itself by shifting the weight towards the outside of the hand, the weights I had to use on the BTN press were still incredibly light (somewhere around 130lbs for a couple reps my wrist would start to feel heavy, while the backoffs at lighter weights were ok). Also, a wide reverse grip bench worked fine, with very light weights too. And dips on a parallel bar.

@Paul_Carter, while I’m at it, when doing the BTN press standing should I keep my neck a bit forward all the time during the reps? I usually just keep my neck forward that tiny bit necessary to lower the bar behind the head to ear level, but I’ve seen people keeping it more forward all the time


Honestly it doesn’t matter. So long as you’re not banging the bar into your head whatever you do will work. :slight_smile:


@Paul_Carter, time for the usual round of questions:
what about rear delt and triceps activation in the BTN press?
Something a bit weird happened yesterday: I usually feel fatigue first in the back of the shoulders (rear delt, I suppose) during sets of BTN press, over time this fatigue has progressively dropped and yesterday was the first time I felt my triceps fatigued well before the rear of the shoulders. It wasn’t a bad thing on itself since I managed to get 12 reps on a weight that I previously managed to get only 11 reps, so as little as it is it’s still progress. I can handle triceps fatigue much better than I handle rear delt fatigue. It’s a one off for now so a bit early to judge, but what I was wondering is:

-is it normal to feel either of these muscles fatigue first?
-could it be that the tons of pull aparts, face pulls, rear raises and BTN itself (in addition to the usual rows, chins, deads & co) done in the last few months have strengthened the rear delt to the point that triceps fatigue first?
-I could be able, in a few weeks, to get back to bench. I bench with a fairly close grip (about shoulder width apart), and I’d want to keep my focus on pressing overhead - how would you suggest to use the bench as an assistance lift for overhead pressing? I.e., flat vs incline, higher reps vs lower reps and so on


The PBN does in fact hit the rear delts to an extent because they have to stabilize the shoulder as well (should be obvious) so they do get work with it.

As far as the triceps fatiguing first that could be a number of things; your grip could have been a few spaces closer or if you were doing more reps in that set it could have been that. There’s a myriad of things that could play into that. But yes, the fact that your shoulders have gotten stronger and the triceps are now the weak link could very well be one of them.


Paul, do you like the behind the neck press in a smith machine?

I’d like to play around with the movement but doing it with free weights I’m a bit afraid to mess up my shoulders.


Do you have a history of shoulder issues or anything like that?


Not really, I’m just not 100% comfortable doing the movement knowing that it has a slightly higher risk of injury.