Working behind the neck

Is there any value at all to presses, pulldowns or pull-ups behind the neck? I know they stress the shoulder joints from everything I’ve read here and elsewhere, but a lot of trainers and coaches I talk to still use them.

I like to think of this from a center of gravity point of view. Since the bar behind your head and neck is outside the COG to the rear, there is a constant effor to bring it back forward. To do this, we use pecs and lats as stabilizers. They work well as stabilizers, but then the lower and middle traps and rhomboids and levators become quiet, and we are losing a lot of healthy biomechanics.

That struggle and difficulty we find with behind the neck movements compared to the front is the body’s way of telling us this movement is wrong. This is so true with many bodybuilding movements. They will morph a movement into something more challenging thinking it hits them muscle from a certain angle or some foolishness. In reality, it is harder to a DB front raise in pronation than neutral because you are that much closer to cranking into impingment.

All that being said, the decreased time under tension during a BHN Push Press or Jerk does appear to be a little more benign for a competitive Olympic lifter. What are the thoughts on this?

  • March 30, 2010

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