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  1. #1
    Registered User KidFreeze's Avatar
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    Behind the Neck Shoulder Press

    Behind the neck press was a stable shoulder exercise of the old school bodybuilders. Today it’s deemed dangerous and nearly nonexistent in today’s world of bodybuilding. And is altogether banned from various gyms and sports workouts. Again prime example of the movement not being the problem, but the individual. Personally I find it extremely comfortable to perform.

    Reg Park, Arnold, Franco Columbu, Serge Nubret, Sergio, Zane, Kevin Levrone (who still performs them and heavy) all loved this age old gem.

    It hits every 3 heads of the shoulder at once, including the traps.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5xy2ZkasRY
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  2. #2
    This too shall pass dazlittle's Avatar
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    I do them, along with behind the neck lat pull downs - I find both a comfortable exercise, but I do a lot of shoulder mobility and prehab work.
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  3. #3
    Registered User KidFreeze's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by dazlittle View Post
    but I do a lot of shoulder mobility and prehab work.
    Cool, that's key!
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    Registered User Cantplankwell's Avatar
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    I do snatch grip push presses, no issues.
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  5. #5
    Tuna, No Crust Jax05's Avatar
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    High risk, not much benefit over regular shoulder press. It puts your whole shoulder joint in a sh*tty position "just because Arnold did it". It hits 3 heads of the shoulder just like the regular press does, difference being that front shoulder press puts more load on anterior delt where's behind neck puts more load on posterior (rear) delt.

    Keep doing it if you like it, but it's really nothing special.
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    LisaSkinnoble's Man -=FLEX=-'s Avatar
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    I still do them. Everyone thinks I'm nuts.
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    Registered User KidFreeze's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Jax05 View Post
    High risk, not much benefit over regular shoulder press. It puts your whole shoulder joint in a sh*tty position "just because Arnold did it". It hits 3 heads of the shoulder just like the regular press does, difference being that front shoulder press puts more load on anterior delt where's behind neck puts more load on posterior (rear) delt.

    Keep doing it if you like it, but it's really nothing special.
    I'm not doing just because of Arnold, I do them because I like them. And your answer is the typical generic answer to this movement. I would read more about it, because there is something special about the behind press.
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    Powerlifting in disguise induced_drag's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KidFreeze View Post
    I'm not doing just because of Arnold, I do them because I like them. And your answer is the typical generic answer to this movement. I would read more about it, because there is something special about the behind press.
    Again, on a risk reward basis, it is not worth it. It puts the shoulder in a very unstable area.

    All good an well when moving really light weights, but over time, if you start moving heavier weights.....

    You give tons of advice for a guy that has only been working out a short time. Some people's anatomy lets them 'get away' with it, but it still is not a great idea. Lifting (over the long run) is very much a risk reward approach. If you do develop your strength to a point, it is very easy to put your body into a position where your muscular strength can overcome your joints and connective tissues if pulled from improper angles.

    I find myself at places like this in regular life. Working on cars, or moving something very heavy. I have the strength to hurt myself if applied improperly and have to remember, that even though I can do something, sometimes I need to be a little more careful just what I am deciding to put force behind.
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  9. #9
    Registered User ajdahlheimer's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by induced_drag View Post

    All good an well when moving really light weights, but over time, if you start moving heavier weights.....
    I actually think I even did some damage sticking to lighter weights with them a few years ago. I was doing Bradford Presses to end my workout with like 135 for a set of 20 reps, for 3 sets. My shoulders were really hurting after a while, so I stopped doing them.
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  10. #10
    Clearly Irrational blue9steel's Avatar
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    I don't like standard BTN presses very much but I've had fairly good luck with either the seated smith machine variant or Bradford presses (which is what I use now). I used them as an accessory for normal overhead presses.
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  11. #11
    I love my power hour MrCarrot's Avatar
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    I must admit that whilst I don't do them any longer, I never found them uncomfortable or felt any danger in doing them
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    Registered User shaneinga's Avatar
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    I am in the risk/reward not worth it camp also. The alternate exercises that target the different heads of the delts are superior and come with far less risk. The problem is impingement. Add weight to it and it is only a matter of time before the shoulder issues will arrive.

    Lat raises, db shoulder press, face pulls will accomplish everything that you are trying to hit with a single movement and all three of those are much safer movements.

    Jeff Cavalier explains it well in this video and he does a better job explaining WHY this goes into impingement and WHY you should avoid this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_gLYLFkjiw
    Last edited by shaneinga; 12-09-2019 at 02:56 PM.
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  13. #13
    Registered User John Prophet's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KidFreeze View Post
    altogether banned from various gyms

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5xy2ZkasRY
    ok, i'll bite. How is a movement banned from gyms? thats a new one on me


    for the record I used to love these and I always did them all the way down to touch the traps etc etc. AFAIK they never hurt me anymore than any other exercise. Now upright rows....thats another story...they just hurt from the get go
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    If you do them with a wide grip I think its just as stable or more so than a front OHP where the bar travels in front of your clavicle.
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    Originally Posted by Jax05 View Post
    High risk, not much benefit over regular shoulder press. It puts your whole shoulder joint in a sh*tty position "just because Arnold did it". It hits 3 heads of the shoulder just like the regular press does, difference being that front shoulder press puts more load on anterior delt where's behind neck puts more load on posterior (rear) delt.

    Keep doing it if you like it, but it's really nothing special.
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    Registered User LWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by induced_drag View Post
    If you do develop your strength to a point, it is very easy to put your body into a position where your muscular strength can overcome your joints and connective tissues if pulled from improper angles.

    This is absolutely freak'in hilarious because first you are talking about what happens when using you're gear, second you're last statement about pulled from improper angles actually can represent what an arm wrestler does and they all have stronger tendons, connective tissues than most BB'ers BECAUSE they train those angles.
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    This too shall pass dazlittle's Avatar
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    I wonder how many trainees have been injured doing behind the neck presses compared to squats or deadlifts?

    I've done all three over the years and its only deadlifts that I've hurt myself doing.

    Risk V Reward applies to everything in life.
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  18. #18
    Registered User KidFreeze's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by induced_drag View Post
    You give tons of advice for a guy that has only been working out a short time. .
    I got back into it 2 years ago.

    Quick breakdown, got my first set of weights at 12 years old after seeing "Pumping Iron" on TV. As a 90lb wet noodle freshman in high school I joined the weightlifting team. Then moved on to basketball for some years. At 16 I joined a Gold's Gym in my town, this was an old school non-commercial gym, this where I gained some serious knowledge. Bodybuilders who had their pro-card worked out at this gym I trained seriously from 16 - 30 years in this gym, this was my golden years of working out, I actually looked like a bodybuilder at 25 years old, I only had one picture of me at this stage, and trying to find it. EVERYONE was doing behind the shoulder neck presses, it was a stable. Evan Centopani trained at this gym, I believe he still a pro, google him if you don't know him, he is a beast. Would do behind the neck presses with 2 plates for reps.

    Then around 30 years I scaled back with heavy lifting, and continued to workout but dropped weight and looked more like a "fitness" person. Then at 33 discovered running. From 35 - 46 I become a long distance runner and never touched a weight during this period. At 46 years old got a divorce, I have 3 young kids, my youngest was only 3 years old, so I couldn't leave the house for a run or go to a gym. Luckily I had a garage and decided to build small home gym, and here I am back to throwing the pig iron around.

    The people who say behind the neck presses are bad are the people who hurt their shoulder doing something else, and get turned off by this movement. It's not risky if your form and mobility is on point.
    Last edited by KidFreeze; 12-10-2019 at 08:29 AM.
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  19. #19
    Powerlifting in disguise induced_drag's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by dazlittle View Post
    I wonder how many trainees have been injured doing behind the neck presses compared to squats or deadlifts?

    I've done all three over the years and its only deadlifts that I've hurt myself doing.

    Risk V Reward applies to everything in life.
    The difference being squats and deadlifts load your body in a way that the joints can favorably carry the load. The nature of the behind the neck press exposes the shoulder to a position in which it is very weak and prone to instability and hence injury. Same can not be said about squats and deads.

    For all the deadlifting I have ever done, I have never hurt myself doing deads. (although I did strain my pec one time on a 1rm dead...srs).

    Risk reward is (or should be) something to consider at our stage in the game. Few could argue that squats and deads may be at the top of list for greatest reward and least risk. (barring any pre-existing injury preventing safe performance of movement)

    Originally Posted by KidFreeze View Post
    trained seriously from 16 - 30 years in this gym, this was my golden years of working out, I actually looked like a bodybuilder at 25 years old, I have one picture floating around. I wasn't even drinking beer during this time.

    Then around 30 years I scaled back with heavy lifting, and continued to workout but dropped weight and looked more like a "fitness" person. Then at 33 discovered running. From 35 - 46 I become a long distance runner and never touched a weight during this period. At 46 years old got a divorce, I have 3 young kids, my youngest was only 3 years old, so I couldn't leave the house for run or go to a gym. Luckily I had a garage and decided to start a small home gym, and here I am back to throwing the pig iron around.
    Post up a pic. A lot of use have posted old school pics from back in the day! Your journey sounds like many of us, myself included. Your goals can be whatever you want them to be. I only jump in on some of your comments because you tend to speak so matter-of-fact on things forgetting people have different goals. You tend to dismiss very sound principles (like running a sustained caloric surplus) because it does not align with your goals...etc

    Enjoy your path back to training. I have seen a few of your form vids etc. All look pretty good. Keep it up, but remember your goals, and hence your opinions on training methods dont apply to all.
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    Registered User oldandintheway's Avatar
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    I don’t do shoulders with a bb. It holds my hands in such a position to hurt my shoulder. Rotator cuff prly. Dumbells allow me to angle my arms such that I get a good wo without shoulder pain. Ymmv
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    Registered User KidFreeze's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by induced_drag View Post
    The difference being squats and deadlifts load your body in a way that the joints can favorably carry the load. The nature of the behind the neck press exposes the shoulder to a position in which it is very weak and prone to instability and hence injury. Same can not be said about squats and deads.

    For all the deadlifting I have ever done, I have never hurt myself doing deads. (although I did strain my pec one time on a 1rm dead...srs).

    Risk reward is (or should be) something to consider at our stage in the game. Few could argue that squats and deads may be at the top of list for greatest reward and least risk. (barring any pre-existing injury preventing safe performance of movement)



    Post up a pic. A lot of use have posted old school pics from back in the day! Your journey sounds like many of us, myself included. Your goals can be whatever you want them to be. I only jump in on some of your comments because you tend to speak so matter-of-fact on things forgetting people have different goals. You tend to dismiss very sound principles (like running a sustained caloric surplus) because it does not align with your goals...etc

    Enjoy your path back to training. I have seen a few of your form vids etc. All look pretty good. Keep it up, but remember your goals, and hence your opinions on training methods dont apply to all.
    It was only 1 photo that an ex-girlfriend took of me, ha! I would love to find it and if I do I will post it. I was proud of that condition. I had such a hard time putting on weight. In my 20's I could eat anything, fast food, whatever and could still remain cut, even without cardio, so I never paid attention to the macro side of things until later in life. Thanks man.
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    Tuna, No Crust Jax05's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KidFreeze View Post
    I'm not doing just because of Arnold, I do them because I like them. And your answer is the typical generic answer to this movement. I would read more about it, because there is something special about the behind press.
    Sometimes generic answer is good enough. No matter what I say is going to convince you, but if you want to you can look at the anatomy of the shoulder yourself and see that it's not meant for that kind of a movement especially under load.

    If you like them and they work for you, good. Keep doing it.
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    Originally Posted by blue9steel View Post
    I don't like standard BTN presses very much but I've had fairly good luck with either the seated smith machine variant or Bradford presses (which is what I use now). I used them as an accessory for normal overhead presses.
    I had to google 'Bradford presses'. I tried them with dumbbells and it's a keeper!

    Thanks.
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    Originally Posted by Jax05 View Post
    Sometimes generic answer is good enough. No matter what I say is going to convince you, but if you want to you can look at the anatomy of the shoulder yourself and see that it's not meant for that kind of a movement especially under load.

    If you like them and they work for you, good. Keep doing it.
    I agree. I guess I should of said in the beginning it's not for everyone.
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    Risk vs reward is a simple and clear explanation. Some people won’t experience problems with it. But more people will experience problems as compared to the group pressing from the front; the biomechanics are pretty clear, even to a relatively unstudied (in the field) guy like me.

    It’s a bit like smoking. My wife’s grandmother made it to 88 despite being a heavy smoker all her life. But no one goes around claiming that smoking is safe. Same deal, just lower understanding from one camp.
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    Originally Posted by supramax View Post
    I had to google 'Bradford presses'. I tried them with dumbbells and it's a keeper!

    Thanks.
    It's not really a Bradford Press if it isn't with a barbell though, brah. The bar is what creates the fixed angle/range of motion.
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    Originally Posted by Corbets View Post
    ...It’s a bit like smoking. My wife’s grandmother made it to 88 despite being a heavy smoker all her life. But no one goes around claiming that smoking is safe. Same deal, just lower understanding from one camp.
    IMHO that's an unfair comparison. Smoking is a risk factor for everyone, some higher than others and some people will be lucky/lucky but 100% of population will have a higher risk by smoking.

    Because different people have different anthropometries individuals will have different risk of impingement from performing behind the neck presses but some individuals may have zero risk (done sensibly etc etc). So I don't think it's a fair comparison

    The problem is how do you know if you will experience impingement? Mobility levels are probably a fair indicator
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    Originally Posted by ajdahlheimer View Post
    It's not really a Bradford Press if it isn't with a barbell though, brah. The bar is what creates the fixed angle/range of motion.
    I can do the exact movement demonstrated here (from 40 to 44 seconds)

    with dumbbells, except that the front position is a neutral grip which rotates into a pronated grip in the rear. It works beautifully and it pumped up my side deltoids, which I wasn't expecting.
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    Originally Posted by supramax View Post
    with dumbbells, except that the front position is a neutral grip which rotates into a pronated grip in the rear. It works beautifully and it pumped up my side deltoids, which I wasn't expecting.
    So essentially a completely different lift then, brah. No neutral grip or rotation with a true Bradford Press. But again, you are probably on to something the way you do them--since you got a good pump AND I hurt myself doing the barbell way.......
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    Ken Patera was witnessed at York doing push presses behind the neck with 550.

    Here is Gary Taylor doing a push press (slight jerk) behind the neck with approx. 460#

    Also a guy who I worked out with once told us that he watched Bill Peal do seated BTN with over 400.

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