Behind the Neck

All training and programming related queries and banter here

Moderators: mgil, chromoly, Manveer

Daverin2112
Registered User
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:18 am

Behind the Neck

#1

Post by Daverin2112 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:34 am

Well, this is one topic I just can't find intelligent opinions on, so I guess I will ask here.

We've all heard it before: BTN pressing and pulldowns are teh ebilz because garanteeeed impingement no matter how done or what weight. The common refrains, of course, range from "Well, Ahnuld did 'em" to "You just poor posture, bruh"

Really, neither side tends to impress me much as having a clue as to what they are talking about. All at once, the idea is that the BTN position puts you in extreme external rotation, and yet it seems the whole point of the BTN press is to get the shoulders more internally rotated than can be allowed for by the standard front position. BTN pressing is used quite commonly by weightlifters, albeit probably more with snatch grip or a push, but that is subject to survivor bias; I can't imagine weightlifting won't inherently select for a good acromion type and shoulder mobility.

Poor posture/thoracic mobility strikes me as a fair point: if I try to assume that position with a somewhat hunched posture, I can barely even get my hands and arms in place without obviously being at the limit of a RoM, but once I assume full extension and contracted back muscles, I have room to spare. Still, the damage can be chronic as well as acute, so I couldn't say if that means it is safe down the line.

Anyone else have any useful thoughts on this topic? Or is this one subject we are probably still in the weeds on? And I less care about if the BTN position is "useful" for training purposes, more just if it deserves the reputation or not.

User avatar
cwd
Registered User
Posts: 3400
Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:34 am
Location: central Ohio
Age: 58

Re: Behind the Neck

#2

Post by cwd » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:11 am

Pretty sure *I* can't BTN press at all. Too kyphotic.

Wouldn't any creeping damage make itself felt as gradually increasing pain?
Seems like anyone who wants to try BTN presses can do so, then just stop well short of crippling themselves. We know that some people can do them safely for years.

Daverin2112
Registered User
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:18 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#3

Post by Daverin2112 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:17 am

I wonder that myself; if it is creeping, wouldn't you feel it at some point? Yet somehow it gets portrayed as this evil killer you will NEVER feel until, suddenly, boom snap.

I mean, I -can't- even enter a full guillotine position on the bench unloaded; my arms just stop at parallel or so. They just won't even try to go into that bad range. Yet I can go through the whole BTN shtick fine. You'd think that, without an external stimulus, whether or not you could enter that range would tell you plenty.

Cellist
Registered User
Posts: 888
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:55 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#4

Post by Cellist » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:22 am

After sime positive experience with pullovers, I was thinking of this question too and so far I think it probably gets more risky close to a limit attempt so higherish reps and low RPE. For putting a heavy weight over your head there are better movements, but I see how some weight (more than a broomstick) helps extend the range of mobility you need for a snatch.

User avatar
stevan
theoretical lifter only
Posts: 528
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:48 pm

Re: Behind the Neck

#5

Post by stevan » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:22 am

I've read it's not worth it from fairly intelligent people. The one that comes to mind is Menno Henselmans.

Daverin2112
Registered User
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:18 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#6

Post by Daverin2112 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:30 am

Know where I can read about it? Mind you, some of Menno's stuff tends to make me go "eeeehh". And admittedly I don't know if "worth it" is from a performance or safety standpoint. But still, at least I expect him to have more details than the usual drivel.

Meanwhile, I'd consider Mike Israetel to be fairly intelligent (albeit a bit broscience-y at times), and he absolutely encourages stuff like BTN work, as well as loving the upright row which gets an even worse rep for similar reasons. Tbf I think Menno and Mike don't quite see eye to eye on some stuff...

User avatar
stevan
theoretical lifter only
Posts: 528
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:48 pm

Re: Behind the Neck

#7

Post by stevan » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:35 am

Not sure but I think it's in his exercise selection article. I never really geeked out on this so I don't know. "Worth it" = unique advantage vs risks.

I think it's unwise to disregard what someone has to say based on your "eeehh".

Austin will probably tell you that it's safe but offers no unique advantages. @Austin?

Daverin2112
Registered User
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:18 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#8

Post by Daverin2112 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:43 am

I disregard some of what he has said based on it because either it is forest for trees stuff (thoughts on lat development in the row), or else presented as scientific when in dispute with equally as valid of science (thoughts on frequency. One of those points of disagreement with Israetel, btw).

Mind you, like I said, he absolutely can actually, ya know, give reasons for stuff. So if he had something worth a read, I'd take it into consideration. But some of his stuff I feel runs counter to the practical/real. So that is when he makes me go "eeeehhh".

EDIT: In response to your edit, a reminder: This post is about the safe, not so much the unique advantage. Possibly worth a discussion, but this is more about the villification of the position and motion than whether or not it provides anything juxtaposed against the standard front position.

User avatar
GeorgeC
Registered User
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:35 pm

Re: Behind the Neck

#9

Post by GeorgeC » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:47 am

It would seem to me that you'd have more chance of shoulder impingement. A regular press allows you to narrow your grip and go through a different range of motion through the bottom part of it.

I honestly see no real benefit to doing a BTN version, but I think impingement also depends a lot on the particular "model" of shoulder you came with, so a lot of people can do it safely. Andy Baker does them.

eternalmediate
Registered User
Posts: 51
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:05 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#10

Post by eternalmediate » Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:17 am

As with any exercise selection, I believe the answer is it depends; I've no doubt many can get away with it.

However, the foremost exercise selection question is always: why are you doing it? Are behind the neck pushes and pulls going to give a unique training effect towards your goals that the standard and likely safer variation isn't?

Daverin2112
Registered User
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:18 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#11

Post by Daverin2112 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:30 pm

GeorgeC wrote: Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:47 am Andy Baker does them.
Does he? Never looked too deep into his specific exercise choices.

EDIT: Also, interestingly, one of the common recommendations you read from those who are for BTN pressing is, if anything, to keep the grip relatively wide. Like, your lower arm going outside of your upper arm wide. The only person I think I have read who advised as narrow as physically possible would be good ol' Ted Arcidi. Whose gifugantic shoulders and arms probably meant he couldn't grip narrow anyways...

User avatar
cwd
Registered User
Posts: 3400
Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:34 am
Location: central Ohio
Age: 58

Re: Behind the Neck

#12

Post by cwd » Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:27 pm

I saw a T-nation article recently that said BTN presses hit medial delts more than regular presses.

That would be a bodybuilder's reason to do them -- their anterior delts are already fried from the other pressing and curls they do, and they probably get tired of the endless lateral DB raises.

I don't have any opinion about the ideal relative size of my anterior vs medial delts, so regular OHP is fine for me...

Daverin2112
Registered User
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:18 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#13

Post by Daverin2112 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:37 pm

cwd wrote: Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:27 pmmedial delts
Lateral. Medial would be if they were close to the body, lateral refers to the fact they are furthest from. /pedantism

And yeah, the general idea is that the BTN press is a much better all around shoulder builder, since it doesn't essentially emulate the usual pressing plane of the bench/incline like from the front does. Also harder to "cheat" if being generally upright is the goal.

Worth noting in general: current PT/rehab wisdom basically suggests that the lateral deltoid can barely be trained worth a damn. Upright rows, BTN pressing, lateral raises with predominant internal rotation... All ebilz.

davidcc
Registered User
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:49 pm

Re: Behind the Neck

#14

Post by davidcc » Mon Oct 29, 2018 5:27 pm

In his book, The Strongest Shall Survive, Bill Starr included them in his more advanced programs.

Ragholmes
Registered User
Posts: 402
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:20 pm

Re: Behind the Neck

#15

Post by Ragholmes » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:39 pm

One of the reasons for not doing BTN barbell presses that I've heard more than a few times is the danger of damaging the c-spine from hitting it with the bar.
Not a problem for someone with big traps, but I could see that being a possibility for skinnier people. It's easy to say no-one would bounce the bar off their neck, but we've all seen stupidity in the gym.
I think things like this grow and a movement gets a bad rap but the reason for it gets forgotten. But, I think that's where some of the negative opinions of BTN presses comes from.

Daverin2112
Registered User
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:18 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#16

Post by Daverin2112 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:49 pm

Well this is interesting; through T Nation of all things, I found out about a study that used ultrasound on the shoulder joint in various levels of abduction, both loaded and unloaded. One very interesting conclusion was that the shoulder in the BTN position actually had increased subacromial space when under load compared to unloaded. Which means that any extrapolation from an unloaded shoulder in that position is met with complications.

The article was for the BTN stuff, in general (with other studies suggesting my current presumption, that good mobility means it is perfectly safe), but I thought that was actually rather interesting.

acorn93
Registered User
Posts: 145
Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2024 5:13 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#17

Post by acorn93 » Sat May 18, 2024 4:46 am

Resurrecting this thread…
Anybody trained these seriously for a long period of time?

James
Registered User
Posts: 1355
Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:26 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#18

Post by James » Sat May 18, 2024 7:22 am

I've been doing them consistently for about about six months now. I like them using same grip as regular overhead but I also have great shoulder mobility and my press is kind of garbage.

acorn93
Registered User
Posts: 145
Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2024 5:13 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#19

Post by acorn93 » Sat May 18, 2024 12:18 pm

James wrote: Sat May 18, 2024 7:22 am I've been doing them consistently for about about six months now. I like them using same grip as regular overhead but I also have great shoulder mobility and my press is kind of garbage.
I have decent shoulder mobility but I feel like I’m not strong or stable in those more extreme ROMs. I was thinking about doing them as a way to combat this but taking it light and slow. Hypertrophy would be a secondary goal but I’m skeptical of the claim that they’re significantly more side delt. Your front delt is still more in line with the bar so that’s still the primary emphasis and I feel the side delt just has to be more active as a stabilizer. People anecdotally claim to have great side delt results from them. What’s your experience been like?

James
Registered User
Posts: 1355
Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:26 am

Re: Behind the Neck

#20

Post by James » Sat May 18, 2024 1:18 pm

Well I am entirely too fat to say anything about hypertrophy but on an amrap with behind the neck the sides of my shoulders start burning first were as it's usually triceps with a normal press.

I think doing them right after normal pressing (-10% for two sets ) helped out a lot at first. Everything was already warmed up and stretched out.

Generally though I just do them because I think they're neat.

Post Reply