Q: I noticed in some of your newsletters and in articles on your website that you guys do behind-the-neck presses and behind-the-neck pulldowns. Don’t you know those can trash your rotator cuffs?
A: You’re not the first to reprimand us for using those so-called dangerous old-school muscle moves. However, we think the injury potential of behind-the-neck pulldowns and behind-the-neck presses is overblown because it’s dependent on genetics, exercise form, and where you place them in your program.
For example, we sometimes do Smith-machine behind-the-neck presses toward the end of a delt routine. That means our delts are fatigued when we get there, so the poundage we use is much lighter than if we did them first. The same is true on behind-the-neck pulldowns—we do it late in our midback routine and we’re always cautious on both.
Exercise form is also key on those two behind-the-neck exercises. On the presses, we stop the descent at
Behind-the-neck presses and behind-the-neck pulldowns are great exercises when done properly. The press puts your upper arms in line with your torso so you better involve the medial head—the one that gives your delts that wide, round look. Front presses are almost all front delt and miss the important medial area.
And as you can see from the photo above, behind-the-neck pulldowns activate the entire upper back—from lats to traps to teres major and minor. Nevertheless, both can be dangerous, so if you want to use these moves safely, follow our lead—use a shorter stroke and put them late in your workout so you’re forced to use lighter weights.
NOTE: For old-school meets new-school training that guarantees massive muscle-building results,
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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