Training

Behind The Neck Press | The Benefits and How To Do It

There are several exercises used amongst fitness enthusiasts that can be considered “bad”. Behind the neck press is certainly an exercise that has slowly gained a bad reputation. It’s an exercise that, if done improperly, can put you in a very vulnerable position and can compromise your shoulders and lead to severe injury. However, if it is done properly it can be an exercise that activates several muscle fibers in your deltoids.

Doing shoulder press behind the neck allows for there to be a direct force on your deltoids instead of a portion of the force is distributed across your chest in a standard shoulder press. There are a few variations of the behind the neck press that offer different benefits. Learn how to properly execute the behind the neck press of these different variations in order to develop your lagging deltoids, build posterior strength, and improve the mobility of your shoulder socket.

Sitting Behind The Neck Press

 

Performing the behind the neck press in the seated position will allow you to focus more on the position of barbell and protect your shoulders from externally rotating. Like all variations of the behind the neck press, it should be done with caution, with a spotter, and with a comfortable weight that you can control the movement pattern of (do not attempt to overload the muscle in the behind the neck press due to the difficulty and the position of the weight). You can try experimenting with a smith machine to ensure the same movement pattern to greater reduce the risk of injury.

  • Find a squat or bench press rack that you can manipulate the support bars and rack for the barbell. Also, make sure the rack has room to where you can either have a bench (at the highest pin) or a military press chair underneath it.
  • Put the rack pins in a position where you can comfortably remove the barbell from a position without struggling.
  • Position a bench (at its highest pin) or a military press chair underneath the rack. If you’re using a free weight rack, position it slightly behind the barbell. If you’re using a smith machine, position it right underneath so you can be in the starting position.
  • To remove the barbell from the rack, have a spotter aid you in moving the barbell off the rack and into a position where your arms are fully extended above your head just short of locking out your elbows. If you’re using a smith machine, just extend your arms upward and take the weight off its supporting hook/pin. This will be your starting position.

TIP: Before starting this motion, retract your scapula to give your shoulders support and proper range of motion.

  • In a controlled movement lower the barbell behind your neck coming just short of hitting your traps.
  • Elevate the barbell above your head to the starting position just short of your elbows locking out.
  • Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.

Note: Do the motion in a controlled movement with your scapula retracted allowing for proper motion in the shoulder socket. A spotter is required for this exercise. Do not attempt to un-rack the weight without a spotter because you are in a fixed position when removing the weight.

Standing Behind The Neck Press

The standing variation of behind the neck press poses the greatest risk of injury because you don’t have any back support and your overall body stability is less than it would be if it were done is a sitting position. The main benefits of the standing variation include abdominal activation and the ability to remove the weight without a spotter.

  • Start by finding a squat rack that you can manipulate the support bars and rack for the barbell.
  • Put the rack pins at chest level so you can comfortably remove the barbell.
  • To remove the barbell from the rack, walk up to the barbell and position it just under your clavicle while putting a slight bend in your knees. Extend your legs fully to lift the barbell off the rack and slowly move away from the rack.
  • Push the barbell up above your head just short of locking out your elbow joint. This will be your starting position.

TIP: Before starting this motion, retract your scapula to give your shoulders support and proper range of motion.

  • In a controlled movement lower the barbell behind your neck coming just short of hitting your traps. When you get close to failure, try doing a push press using your legs as a projectile to edge out a few more reps.
  • Elevate the barbell above your head to the starting position just short of your elbows locking out.
  • Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.

Note: Do the motion in a controlled movement with your scapula retracted allowing for proper motion in the shoulder socket. A spotter is always recommended.

track progress

 

Take-Home Message

 

The behind the neck shoulder press is an effective exercise when done properly and has many benefits on the activation and development of your deltoids. However, if you’re someone with previous shoulder problems or injuries, it may be best to avoid this exercise.



Myprotein

Myprotein

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