T Nation

God Bless the BTN Press


#1

Hey all, haven't posted lately but just thought I'd share something interesting I've noticed lately.

So after a looooong time stalling hard and dealing with achy shoulders, I decided to drop the OHP for a bit and build some volume. I've been focusing my overhead work on BTN presses and occasionally 1 arm db presses, mostly in the 6-10 rep range. Today, I decided to go with OHP's and ended up hitting 135 for 5x5... Still weaksauce, but a LOT better than before. Also, literally NEVER experience pain in my shoulders anymore.

Just wondering if anyone else has had similar experience with higher reps and so called "risky" shoulder pressing variations for building shoulder strength, as opposed to just hard and heavy OHP.


#2

Do you do them seated or standing?


#3

Primarily standing, but since I work out in a cramped, crowded university gym I gotta do them seated occasionally. I don’t like have my scapula and upper back pinned against the bench when pressing overhead, especially behind the neck.


#4

I’ve never done any behind the neck pressing but have a pretty strong overhead, I’ve always felt seated ohp to be more effective for bench since you are pinned up against a surface. Maybe I’ll start adding these in on my accessory press day.


#5

[quote]kollak95 wrote:
Also, literally NEVER experience pain in my shoulders anymore.[/quote]
That’s the funny thing about behind the neck work. Back in the day, like in the '50s and '60s, that was pretty much the go-to for big pressing. Whether it was more popular because people already had healthy shoulders or if it contributed to shoulder health, or a little of each, is interesting.

One thing I like to do with BTN presses is to setup the bar in a rack like usual, around shoulder-height, set my hands in a pressing position and duck in front of the bar, then quarter squat down until the bar’s about eye-level (behind my head) before taking it out of the rack. Then stand up while keeping the bar at that same level, so you can start the press with some tension in a more powerful position, compared to starting the first rep with the bar on your traps.

Depending on the seated rack setup, you may be able to sit facing the seat, so your back isn’t supported at all.


#6

Standing, with the bar on the pins in the power rack felt good for me. Each rep, I was able to get really tight and set, before pressing. After a couple weeks, I was almost doing a behind the head chin up between reps.

I had the pins set kinda high, the bar was just above my ears, not way down on my traps.


#7

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]kollak95 wrote:
Also, literally NEVER experience pain in my shoulders anymore.[/quote]
That’s the funny thing about behind the neck work. Back in the day, like in the '50s and '60s, that was pretty much the go-to for big pressing. Whether it was more popular because people already had healthy shoulders or if it contributed to shoulder health, or a little of each, is interesting.

One thing I like to do with BTN presses is to setup the bar in a rack like usual, around shoulder-height, set my hands in a pressing position and duck in front of the bar, then quarter squat down until the bar’s about eye-level (behind my head) before taking it out of the rack. Then stand up while keeping the bar at that same level, so you can start the press with some tension in a more powerful position, compared to starting the first rep with the bar on your traps.

Depending on the seated rack setup, you may be able to sit facing the seat, so your back isn’t supported at all.[/quote]

Chris,
Bro-science in several gyms have always warned against the BNP, claiming it causes shoulder problems. Anything to this urban legend? Thanks.


#8

[quote]idaho wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]kollak95 wrote:
Also, literally NEVER experience pain in my shoulders anymore.[/quote]
That’s the funny thing about behind the neck work. Back in the day, like in the '50s and '60s, that was pretty much the go-to for big pressing. Whether it was more popular because people already had healthy shoulders or if it contributed to shoulder health, or a little of each, is interesting.

One thing I like to do with BTN presses is to setup the bar in a rack like usual, around shoulder-height, set my hands in a pressing position and duck in front of the bar, then quarter squat down until the bar’s about eye-level (behind my head) before taking it out of the rack. Then stand up while keeping the bar at that same level, so you can start the press with some tension in a more powerful position, compared to starting the first rep with the bar on your traps.

Depending on the seated rack setup, you may be able to sit facing the seat, so your back isn’t supported at all.[/quote]

Chris,
Bro-science in several gyms have always warned against the BNP, claiming it causes shoulder problems. Anything to this urban legend? Thanks. [/quote]

Possibly more bro-science but somewhere I read it can bring out existing shoulder issues, not necessarily cause them. This makes sense though in pretty much any physical activity you do when you push your body to its limits, if you have some existing limiting factor it will be exposed eventually.


#9

It’s like any exercise, really. Some people can get away with it, some can’t. If you don’t have half decent shoulder mobility then your scapula movement’ll be all fucked up and you’ll need to do that turkey neck thing people do.


#10

[quote]idaho wrote:
Chris,
Bro-science in several gyms have always warned against the BNP, claiming it causes shoulder problems. Anything to this urban legend? Thanks.[/quote]
Like the guys just said, I think it’s more an issue of the exercise exacerbating problems, rather than causing them. The BTN press doesn’t “cause” shoulders problems any more than benching or push-ups “cause” shoulder problems.

Some coaches, Dr. Clay Hyght comes to mind since he’s a chiropractor too, have written some solid arguments against the exercise.

Other coaches, like Thibaudeau and Paul Carter, are big fans of the exercise.

And like I said, back in the day the BTN press was a staple for Bill Pearl, Reg Park, Arnold and the gang, and most guys from those eras. And it wasn’t uncommon to go heavy, not just higher rep work.


#11

This is kinda weird. I started doing BHN presses about a month ago. Didn’t read anything about them that brought them up to my attention again, just out of the blue wanting to add them in for a change up. Done standing. I have been doing standing OHP for quite a while now, and I have to say I feel the BHN press much more in my shoulders. It is hard for me to feel the shoulder work I do, I have to do drop sets, supersets, etc and really attack them to get some feeling of work in there. But, with the BHN it’s right there hollering at me right after the set. I even do some BHN push press and it feels great mechanically inside the shoulder and I really feel them in the muscle.

Great minds think alike.


#12

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]idaho wrote:
Chris,
Bro-science in several gyms have always warned against the BNP, claiming it causes shoulder problems. Anything to this urban legend? Thanks.[/quote]
Like the guys just said, I think it’s more an issue of the exercise exacerbating problems, rather than causing them. The BTN press doesn’t “cause” shoulders problems any more than benching or push-ups “cause” shoulder problems.

Some coaches, Dr. Clay Hyght comes to mind since he’s a chiropractor too, have written some solid arguments against the exercise.

Other coaches, like Thibaudeau and Paul Carter, are big fans of the exercise.

And like I said, back in the day the BTN press was a staple for Bill Pearl, Reg Park, Arnold and the gang, and most guys from those eras. And it wasn’t uncommon to go heavy, not just higher rep work.[/quote]

Thank you for the response and posting the two articles.


#13

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]kollak95 wrote:
Also, literally NEVER experience pain in my shoulders anymore.[/quote]
That’s the funny thing about behind the neck work. Back in the day, like in the '50s and '60s, that was pretty much the go-to for big pressing. Whether it was more popular because people already had healthy shoulders or if it contributed to shoulder health, or a little of each, is interesting.

One thing I like to do with BTN presses is to setup the bar in a rack like usual, around shoulder-height, set my hands in a pressing position and duck in front of the bar, then quarter squat down until the bar’s about eye-level (behind my head) before taking it out of the rack. Then stand up while keeping the bar at that same level, so you can start the press with some tension in a more powerful position, compared to starting the first rep with the bar on your traps.

Depending on the seated rack setup, you may be able to sit facing the seat, so your back isn’t supported at all.[/quote]

That quarter-squatting the weight out is a good idea. I typically push press the weight off my traps as you mentioned, but this is probably a safer method. And yeah if I have to do seated, that may be something to try. Might get some funny looks for that one though, haha.


#14

[quote]mbdix wrote:
This is kinda weird. I started doing BHN presses about a month ago. Didn’t read anything about them that brought them up to my attention again, just out of the blue wanting to add them in for a change up. Done standing. I have been doing standing OHP for quite a while now, and I have to say I feel the BHN press much more in my shoulders. It is hard for me to feel the shoulder work I do, I have to do drop sets, supersets, etc and really attack them to get some feeling of work in there. But, with the BHN it’s right there hollering at me right after the set. I even do some BHN push press and it feels great mechanically inside the shoulder and I really feel them in the muscle.

Great minds think alike.
[/quote]

Yep, pretty much my exact experience as well. BTN presses actually feel like a “shoulder press,” rather than just an overhead press, if that makes sense.


#15

This thread has convinced me to give them a shot next time I do shoulders. The last time I tried BHN was when I FIRST started messing around with weights quite a few years ago and back then they were bad because of poor posture, bad form, and ego lifting (essentially not knowing what I was doing). My shoulders are much better now. I’ll report back with how it goes.


#16

[quote]Aopocetx wrote:
This thread has convinced me to give them a shot next time I do shoulders. The last time I tried BHN was when I FIRST started messing around with weights quite a few years ago and back then they were bad because of poor posture, bad form, and ego lifting (essentially not knowing what I was doing). My shoulders are much better now. I’ll report back with how it goes.[/quote]

I’m really interested if you have the same experiences as OP and myself.

I have really been feeling the good burn doing them.


#17

[quote]kollak95 wrote:

[quote]mbdix wrote:
This is kinda weird. I started doing BHN presses about a month ago. Didn’t read anything about them that brought them up to my attention again, just out of the blue wanting to add them in for a change up. Done standing. I have been doing standing OHP for quite a while now, and I have to say I feel the BHN press much more in my shoulders. It is hard for me to feel the shoulder work I do, I have to do drop sets, supersets, etc and really attack them to get some feeling of work in there. But, with the BHN it’s right there hollering at me right after the set. I even do some BHN push press and it feels great mechanically inside the shoulder and I really feel them in the muscle.

Great minds think alike.
[/quote]

Yep, pretty much my exact experience as well. BTN presses actually feel like a “shoulder press,” rather than just an overhead press, if that makes sense.
[/quote]

Yes, that makes sense. That’s a good way to describe what I have been experiencing.


#18

Anyone do them in the smith machine?


#19

[quote]AzCats wrote:
Anyone do them in the smith machine?[/quote]

I recently watched a YouTube vid of Dexter training for 2015 Olympia. He did an interesting version on the Smith that resembled a sitting javelin press. No surprise he was being coached by Charles Glass.

Some of that fancy shit Sir Glass has clients do look gimmicky to me but this looks like it has potential. The neutral grip, ability to adjust where the arm moves in relation to torso (slightly front, directly above, or behind), unilateral…I’m going to give this a go next shoulder session.


#20

[quote]Aopocetx wrote:
This thread has convinced me to give them a shot next time I do shoulders. The last time I tried BHN was when I FIRST started messing around with weights quite a few years ago and back then they were bad because of poor posture, bad form, and ego lifting (essentially not knowing what I was doing). My shoulders are much better now. I’ll report back with how it goes.[/quote]

I would say the experiment was a success although I now realize my shoulders need a little more work. My range of motion was somewhat limited seeing as I felt like my shoulder couldn’t externally rotate at the bottom of the movement how its supposed to? If I’m understanding anatomy here… What I’m trying to say is that below parallel, I felt like my shoulder girdle couldn’t open up enough to go down any further.

HOWEVER, I do like this movement. I know it’ll be a good addition once I get better range of motion in my shoulders. I definitely don’t think this exercise is automatically out of the question anymore like I used to.