I’m planning on starting the complete power look program in a couple of weeks. I would really like to use the behind the neck push press in place of the regular push press because I’m better at it, enjoy it more, and it’s more comfortable for me. I love behind the neck movements and I’ve always gotten better results from them. My question is, how would I alter the assistance movements to accompany this, or should I keep them the same? Thank you for all the work you put out and thanks in advance for any advice on this.
Behind-the-Neck Shoulder Press
Quick question: Would you jump off the roof of your house to activate the maximum number of motor units in your quads? I’m going to assume the answer is no.
Although you’d likely achieve more quad recruitment with roof-jumping than with anything you’ve ever done, it wouldn’t really matter. You’d be too occupied with things like a) crying like a schoolgirl, b) calling 911, and c) looking for your kneecaps to be able to enjoy the awesome depth jump you just did.
Along the same lines, there’s no doubt that behind-the-neck presses are good at stimulating the deltoids, specifically the anterior delts. But just because an exercise is good for your muscles doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for your joints.
The main problem with behind-the-neck presses is that the movement has to be done with the shoulders in extreme external and horizontal abduction. In other words, you’re required to do the movement at the very end range of motion for the shoulder joint.
Although it’s normally safe to take your shoulder to its end range of motion if you’re in the club “raising the roof,” it becomes far less safe when you do rep after rep, set after set, with a loaded barbell in your hands.
While it’s true that the shoulder joint (aka: glenohumeral) is the most mobile joint in the body, it’s also the most unstable. So, just because you can actually get a barbell behind your head doesn’t mean that you should do repeated movements, against a load no less, in that same position.
It’s much, much safer to press overhead with the humerus moving in the scapular plane, which is about 30° forward of the frontal plane.
To find the scapular plane, raise your arms straight out to the sides (in the frontal plane) until they’re parallel to the ground (as in the top position of a lateral raise). Now bring your arms forward about 30°. Your humerus is now in the plane of your scapula. This is the position your upper arms should be in when you do overhead presses.
Sure, there are some people who can do behind-the-neck barbell presses for years and never have a shoulder problem. Likewise, there are people who can smoke cigarettes for decades and never get lung cancer. But in both cases, you’re gambling… and with odds that are not in your favor.
I’ve read that article, as well as many others on the subject, including one by CT titled “5 things the exercise nazis get wrong” or something like that (sorry can’t link it on my phone). But he talks about how it doesn’t create shoulder problems, it only exposes pre existing ones. I’m flexible enough in the shoulders to do it just fine. It actually has made my shoulders feel much better. Flat benching is actually the only thing that’s ever hurt my shoulders. People used the behind the neck press for decades, including many great powerlifters, bodybuilders and weight lifters without hurting their shoulders. Plus, my question was about assistance for the BTN push press, which takes the shoulders out of the only part of the range of motion (the bottom) that could even be considered questionable.
Yeah I personally like the behind the neck press and it feels bette on my shoulders. Same with my friend Paul Carter. Any exercise has a potential risk but that doesn’t mean that it cannot be done safely and effectively.
So for the power look program if I’m using BTN push press, what do you think would be the best two assistance exercises? I would assume maybe strict BTN press would be one, but what about the second one?
Staying tight and strong behind the neck feels better for me. I also do snatch grip behind the head with 225 for some reason I feel safer behind the head… But i have great shoulder mobility and at 6’3 long arms lol. I lower the bar slowly till it rest on my traps every rep though I see a lot of people stopping mid neck and this always hurt but if i dead stop the bar for a second on my traps no pain just a thought