T Nation

What Lift is Best for Shoulders?


What lift is more productive for developing shoulders? Military press infront of the neck, or behind the neck? Or neither?


Behind the neck can be dangerous.


both are widely used exercises and hit different parts of your delts. In front of your head develops more front delts while behind the next develops more medial delts. IMO military presses to the front are better because they're safer and I can use more weight.


Behind the neck presses are usually implemented in ones routine because they allow 10-15% more weight to be used because the spinal erectors are recruited to a greater degree. This is the same reason that back squats allow 15-25% more weight to be used.

In response to the OP, you can (and should) use behind the neck presses if you meet the criteria in Adage #8 from 'Debunking Exercise Myths, Part II' here:


For Developing Shoulder Size Dumbbell Shoulder Press and Lateral Raises will be better than a barbell exercise.

If you want to strengthen your shoulders for the bench press, full ROM Military presses in front of the neck are best.

Most people agree that if you're going to do BTN presses you shouldn't bring the bar down below ear level.


It is believed btn presses are bad for your rotator cuffs. The safest way to do btn is most proberly on a smiths machine. Military presses in front of the neck build freeky size to your shoulders. I would recommend keepeing both military presses and dumbell presses in your arsenal to build good quality size.


Personally, I think Dumbbell Arnold Presses take the cake, give them a try.



I think it's the front version because it allows you to use more weight, which means you're spending more energy (Energy = Work = force x distance = mass x acceleration x distance).


Haha.. thanks for the formulae. It's a well-established fact that behind-the-neck presses allow more weight to be used (if trained) though.


I think the push press is the best exercise becase not only does it add overall size to your deltoids, it also stimulates yours traps.
The push press is esentially a standing military press, but you "cheat" by using a little help coming from the legs to get the bar in motion and out of the starting position. This "cheat" allows you to move more weight and place a higher level of strain on the deltoids.


Thank you all for the input. I think I'll just put in both on my shoulders workout, if that isn't too much stess on them.