Q: I’m in the first phase of the Size Surge Workout, and it’s incredible! I’ve already gained 4 pounds in three weeks. That’s more than I’ve gained in the past year. I’m super psyched for the next step, so I was looking over phase 2 and noticed behind-the-neck pulldowns. I’ve read those are dangerous. Can I substitute something else?
A: Behind-the-neck pulldowns should be safe for most trainees in the phase 2 Size Surge program because of 3 reasons:
- You use a controlled tempo—1.5 seconds down and three seconds up, no jerking.
- You reverse the movement of the bar when it reaches about halfway behind your head, just a bit lower than what’s pictured above—around the top of your ears.
- In the 3-way split version (pages 55-57), which is what we recommend for most trainees, you do it as the first midback exercise, but AFTER full-range work for your lats. With your back partially fatigued, the weight you use on behind-the-neck pulldowns will be much less than if you did them first when your back and bi’s are fresh.
Each of those reduces the strain on the rotator cuffs significantly; however, some trainees have a propensity for shoulder pain and/or injury. If that’s your case, we suggest you simply SKIP the behind-the-neck pulldowns and do two sets of the midback stretch-position exercise, one-arm dumbbell rows, AND the midback contracted-position exercise, bent-arm bent-over laterals. That will be your complete midback workout after you train lats.
You can delete the behind-the-neck pulldowns because standard pulldowns to the front—midrange-position lat work—also train the midback through its midrange position. In other words, behind-the-neck pulldowns are somewhat redundant after lat work, although they do make a midback squeeze more pronounced…
As you can see, even if you delete behind-the-neck pulldowns, you’ll still be getting full-range work for your midback as well as your lats. And that means after you get through your fall and winter training and peel off your shirt that first warm day next spring, your back will be stacked with new mass…
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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