Q: In the Positions-of-Flexion exercise matrix [in 3D Muscle Building] you don’t have any midrange moves listed for midback. Instead, you say, “covered with lat midrange work.” But I know I’ve seen behind-the-neck pulldowns in some of your workouts as a midrange exercise. Should I not use that exercise? Is it dangerous?
A: Doing pulldowns behind your neck can be dangerous—if you train heavy and pull the bar too low or jerk the bar down.
We usually don’t recommend it, but we DO use it every so often. But for extra safety purposes, we do it at the END of our back workout.
When you save behind-the-neck pulldowns till the end, you have lots of fatigue in your back and even arms, so you have to use a lot less weight. For shoulder safety, keep these performance tips in mind…
1) Never relax your shoulders at the top—that means don’t lock out our elbows and extend your arms
2) Do not jerk the weight down—from an arms-slightly-bent position, pull down smoothly, head tilted forward
3) Stop the downward pull when the bar is at ear level—not all the way to the base of your neck
4) When you’re in that “double-biceps” position, squeeze your scapulae for a count
5) Once again, do behind-the-neck pulldowns as one of your LAST back exercises in your routine
As you can see from this shot of Mike Mentzer, the middle trap fibers do run downward, so any pulldown or chin-up will involve that muscle. While a behind-the-neck version may allow for better fiber activation, if the exercise hurts our shoulder joint, do NOT do it. Period. Upper-body mass won’t happen if you’re injured.
By the way, if shoulder pain is “hurting” your workouts—and possibly disrupting your sleep—we highly recommend Rick Kaselj’s program…
Fix My Shoulder Pain <== Go here to check it out.
You may even want to use Pre-Ex 3X to help limit the poundage on behind-the-neck pulldowns even further…
In that case, you could use bent-arm bent-over laterals first, then immediately go to behind-the-neck pulldowns—with the form recommendations above.
If your shoulders don’t feel out of whack, it’s a focused upper-body mass attack for your midback.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
NO MORE SHOULDER PAIN
We’ve all had our share of injuries, but nothing’s more annoying than aching shoulders.
If you hurt your shoulders, you’re done—at least for a while. And if the damage is severe, the pain can affect your workouts forever. That’s not good!
That’s why we’re recommending advice from injury specialist Rick Kaselj, MS. His tips can help make your shoulders nearly bullet-proof.
Here are a few general tips from Rick (he goes into more detail in his program)…
Top 5 Tips To Bullet-Proof Your Shoulders
- Build Tension in Your Lats. When doing shoulder exercises, activate your lats and keep your shoulders happy.
- Prime Up Your Muscles. Most people do a warm-up that just lubricates the joint, but you need to activate and turn on all the muscles in your upper body.
- Technique, Technique, Technique. This is the number one reason why people injure their shoulders. You can’t go to the gym every day and work on your max lift.
- Watch Out for Fatigue. Cooking your smaller muscles in your shoulder complex, and that increases the risk of shoulder injury and pain.
- Work on Your Shoulder Blade Muscles. Many strength coaches will say you’re wasting your time on this, but if you want to have bullet-proof shoulders, you need to work on them.
Get all of Rick’s tips and tricks for pain-free workouts below: