Behind The Neck Shoulder Press – GOOD or BAD…
The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body. No other joint has the ability to perform motions such as adduction, abduction, flexion, extension, internal rotation, external rotation, and full 360° circumduction.
This flexibility and mobility is critical. It allows you to wiggle your arms around so you can put on a t-shirt, or to reach around and get your wallet out of your back pocket, and it even comes in handy when trying to get things in odd places, like when you were a kid reaching for that box of cookies that your parents tried to hide in the back of the cupboard.
But these benefits comes at a cost, because this mobility also make the joint very unstable. This instability is compensated for by the small and fragile rotator cuff muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
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Shoulder injuries are one of the most common injuries that you’ll hear about in the gym. Just ask the most experienced guys at your gym if they have ever suffered an injury to their shoulders during training, I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of them will say YES!
This brings us to the Behind The Neck Shoulder Press…
It’s a very controversial exercise. Some people love it because they really feel the movement stimulating the deltoid muscles. While others cringe at the thought of doing it while they mentally replay old shoulder injuries.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of behind the head pressing because it places the shoulder joint in a vulnerable position for injury. The risk to reward for doing behind the neck presses isn’t really in your favor. You can get just as good of a shoulder workout by doing your presses to the front of the head.
For beginners and intermediate lifters I’d recommend doing your shoulder presses to the front of the head, using dumbbells, or a shoulder press machine (as shown in the pictures below).
You can make great progress in your shoulder development from using these shoulder press variations, there is really no need to include behind the neck presses in your shoulder workouts.
However, if you are curious and want to experiment with behind the neck presses to see how they feel, by all means do so. But start off lighter than normal and work within your comfort zone. Realize that pressing to the back of the head will stretch the shoulder joints a lot more than pressing to the front.
It really depends on your individual shoulder mobility and flexibility whether or not you’ll be able to comfortably perform behind the neck presses. But realize that it’s an optional exercise, you don’t have to perform them if you don’t feel comfortable in doing so. You’ll be able to fully develop your shoulders without ever performing presses behind the neck.
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