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Master Behind the Neck Shoulder Press without any Injury chances

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behind the neck shoulder press

The “behind the neck shoulder press” is an upper body strength training exercise that specifically targets the shoulders and arms. It involves pressing a weight, such as a barbell or dumbbells, upward from behind the neck until the arms are fully extended overhead. This exercise can be performed seated or standing, making it a versatile addition to any workout routine.

This exercise is particularly popular among bodybuilders and athletes as it can help to build a well-rounded physique, improve athletic performance, and prevent injuries. Strong shoulders are essential for lifting heavy weights, whether in the gym or on the field.

By regularly performing behind the neck shoulder presses, you can increase your shoulder stability and mobility, which will not only prevent injuries but also allow you to perform at your best during physical activities.

That said, let’s move on to a detailed analysis of this exercise.

Anatomy of the Shoulder

The shoulder is a complex joint that allows for a wide range of motion and plays a crucial role in many daily activities. It is made up of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), scapula (shoulder blade), and humerus (upper arm bone). These bones are connected by muscles, tendons, and ligaments that work together to move the shoulder in different directions.

The main muscle groups involved in the behind the neck shoulder press are:

  1. Front, outer, and rear deltoids (shoulders)
  2. Trapezius (upper back)
  3. Triceps brachii (back upper arm)
  4. Serratus anterior (armpit over rib cage)

The deltoids are responsible for raising your arm to shoulder level, while the trapezius helps to stabilize and support the scapula. The rotator cuff muscles work together to rotate and stabilize the shoulder joint.

It is essential to understand the anatomy of the shoulder when performing exercises like the behind the neck shoulder press. This knowledge will not only help you target and engage the right muscles but also prevent injuries by using proper form and technique.

behind the neck shoulder press

Benefits of Behind the Neck Shoulder Press

The behind the neck shoulder press is an effective exercise for building strength and muscle mass in the shoulders. Unlike other shoulder workouts, this exercise specifically targets the lateral head of the deltoids, which helps create a wider and more defined appearance to the shoulders.

In addition to targeting specific muscles, the behind the neck shoulder press also allows for a greater range of motion compared to traditional overhead presses. This movement puts the shoulders in a more natural and comfortable position, making it easier to perform with proper form.

Moreover, this exercise also engages other muscles such as the triceps and upper back, making it a compound movement that can help improve overall upper body strength.

  1. Targets Multiple Muscle Groups: Unlike other shoulder exercises, such as front raises or lateral raises, the behind the neck shoulder press works multiple muscle groups at once. It primarily targets the deltoids (shoulder muscles) but also engages the trapezius, triceps, and upper back muscles.
  2. Builds Overall Shoulder Strength: By targeting various muscle groups in the shoulders, this exercise helps to build overall strength and size in this area. Strong shoulders are essential for everyday movements, such as lifting objects and performing daily tasks.
  3. Promotes Shoulder Stability: The behind the neck shoulder press requires a proper form to execute correctly, which helps promote shoulder stability. The movement also engages the rotator cuff muscles, which play a crucial role in keeping your shoulder joints stable.
  4. Improves Overhead Strength: This exercise involves lifting weights overhead, which can improve your ability to perform other movements that require you to lift objects above your head. It is especially beneficial for athletes who need to reach or throw overhead in their sport.
  5. Time-Efficient: As the behind the neck shoulder press targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, it is a time-efficient exercise compared to targeting each muscle group separately. It allows you to work your shoulders, upper back, and triceps in one exercise.
  6. Variations for Different Fitness Levels: The behind the neck shoulder press offers variations suitable for different fitness levels. Beginners can start with lighter weights or use resistance bands, while advanced lifters can increase the weight or try a single-arm variation for an extra challenge.

Step-by-Step Guide to Properly Execute the Behind the Neck Shoulder Press

The behind-the-neck press can be done in a seated or standing position.

Seated Behind the Neck Barbell Press:

Performing behind the neck press in the seated position will allow you to focus more on the position of the barbell and protect your shoulders from externally rotating. Like all variations of the behind the neck press, it should be done with caution, with a spotter, and with a comfortable weight that you can control the movement pattern of.

The Setup:

  1. Find a squat or bench press rack that you can manipulate the support bars and rack for the barbell. Also, make sure the rack has room to where you can either have a bench (at the highest pin) or a military press chair underneath it.
  2. Put the rack pins in a position where you can comfortably remove the barbell from a position without struggling.
  3. Position a bench (at its highest pin) or a military press chair underneath the rack. If you’re using a free weight rack, position it slightly behind the barbell. If you’re using a smith machine, position it right underneath so you can be in the starting position.
  4. To remove the barbell from the rack, have a spotter aid you in moving the barbell off the rack and into a position where your arms are fully extended above your head just short of locking out your elbows. If you’re using a smith machine, just extend your arms upward and take the weight off its supporting hook/pin. This will be your starting position.

TIP: Before starting this motion, retract your scapula to give your shoulders support and a proper range of motion.

Range of Motion:

  1. In a controlled movement lower the barbell behind your neck coming just short of hitting your traps.
  2. Elevate the barbell above your head to the starting position just short of your elbows locking out.
  3. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.

Do the motion in a controlled movement with your scapula retracted allowing for proper motion in the shoulder socket. A spotter is required for this exercise. Do not attempt to un-rack the weight without a spotter because you are in a fixed position when removing the weight.

Standing Behind the Neck Barbell Press:

The standing variation of behind the neck barbell press poses the greatest risk of injury because you don’t have any back support and your overall body stability is less than it would be if it were done in a sitting position. The main benefits include abdominal activation.

The Setup:

  1. Start by finding a squat rack that you can manipulate the support bars and rack for the barbell.
  2. Put the rack pins at chest level so you can comfortably remove the barbell.
  3. To remove the barbell from the rack, walk up to the barbell and position it just under your clavicle while putting a slight bend in your knees. Extend your legs fully to lift the barbell off the rack and slowly move away from the rack.
  4. Push the barbell up above your head just short of locking out your elbow joint. This will be your starting position.

Before starting this motion, retract your scapula to give your shoulders support and a proper range of motion.

Range of Motion:

  1. In a controlled movement lower the barbell behind your neck coming just short of hitting your traps. When you get close to failure, try doing a push press using your legs as a projectile to edge out a few more reps.
  2. Elevate the barbell above your head to the starting position just short of your elbows locking out.
  3. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.

Do the motion in a controlled movement with your scapula retracted allowing for proper motion in the shoulder socket. A spotter is always recommended.

behind the neck shoulder press

Potential Risks and How to Mitigate Them

While the behind the neck shoulder press has many benefits, it also comes with potential risks if not performed carefully and with proper form. Some of these risks include:

  1. Shoulder or Neck Injuries: As mentioned before, individuals with pre-existing shoulder or neck issues should consult a healthcare professional before attempting this exercise. Even for those without any prior concerns, performing this exercise with incorrect form can put strain on the shoulders and neck, leading to potential injuries.
  2. Muscle Imbalances: Like any exercise that targets specific muscle groups, there is a risk of developing muscle imbalances if the exercise is done incorrectly or too frequently. This can lead to discomfort, pain, and decreased mobility in the affected muscles.
  3. Overtraining: As with any workout, overdoing the behind the neck shoulder press can lead to fatigue and potential strain on the muscles. It’s important to listen to your body and give yourself rest days in between workouts to allow for proper recovery.

To mitigate these risks, here are some tips:

  1. Start with Light Weight: It’s crucial to start with a light weight when first attempting this exercise. This will allow you to focus on form and avoid putting too much strain on your muscles.
  2. Maintain Proper Form: As mentioned before, proper form is essential in avoiding injuries and muscle imbalances. Keep your core engaged, shoulders down, and avoid arching your back while performing the exercise.
  3. Avoid Overtraining: It’s important to give your muscles enough time to rest and recover between workouts. Incorporate this exercise into your routine 2-3 times a week, with rest days in between.
  4. Consult a Professional: If you have any pre-existing shoulder or neck issues, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional before attempting this exercise. They can provide personalized guidance and modifications to prevent potential injuries.

Alternatives to Behind the Neck Shoulder Press

If you’re concerned about injuring yourself while doing a behind-the-neck press, several alternative exercises offer similar benefits with less risk.

  1. Behind the Neck Shoulder Press with Dumbbells:

Behind the neck presses are usually done with a barbell, but using individual dumbbells can reduce your risk of injury. Unlike barbells, dumbbells don’t keep your arms in a fixed position. This puts less stress on your shoulders because you can move more naturally, allowing them to gradually progress to a greater range of motion.

The step-by-step guide to executing behind the neck shoulder press with dumbbells is as follows:

  1. Sit on a bench, feet planted on the floor and knees at 90 degrees. Rest the dumbbells on your thighs. Lift the dumbbells to shoulder level one at a time, palms facing forward.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and move your elbows back, holding the dumbbells behind your ears.
  3. Brace your core. Exhale and press the dumbbells straight up, keeping them in line with your shoulders. Pause.
  4. Inhale and slowly return to starting position.
  5. Start with one set of 12 to 15 reps.
  • Shoulder Press:

The basic shoulder press is less risky because you hold the weight in front of your body and can be done standing/sitting. Like the behind-the-neck version, the standard shoulder press targets the deltoids, triceps, and trapezoids. It also works the pectoral muscles in the chest. It is done as:

  1. Sit with the barbell just above your front shoulders. Plant your feet on the floor with your knees at 90 degrees. Grip the bar, hands wider than shoulder-width and palms facing forward.
  2. Move the barbell out of the rack and hold it at chin-level. Brace your core, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and point your elbows forward.
  3. Exhale and extend your arms to press the barbell upward, lining it up with your head. Pause.
  4. Inhale and slowly return to the starting position.
  5. Start with one set of 12 to 15 reps.

The Base Line:

In conclusion, the behind the neck shoulder press is a beneficial exercise that targets multiple muscle groups in the shoulders. It can help improve overall upper body strength, stability, and posture. However, it is important to perform the exercise with proper form and listen to your body for any signs of discomfort or pain. If necessary, modifications or alternative exercises can be incorporated into a workout routine to target the same muscle groups while avoiding strain or injury.

Ultimately, finding the right variation or combination of exercises that works best for each individual is key in achieving optimal results. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you when it comes to the behind the neck shoulder press.

Remember to always prioritize safety and proper form, and consult a professional if needed. With consistency and patience, this exercise can help you achieve a stronger and healthier upper body. Overall, the behind the neck shoulder press is a valuable addition to any workout routine and should be given proper attention and consideration. Happy training!

Frequently Asked Question

Sources

  1. Holden, Alex. “The Shoulder Press: Behind-the-Neck vs Front.” Barbend, Barbend, 4 Dec. 2018, barbend.com/shoulder-press-behind-the-neck-vs-front/.
  2. “Shoulder Rotator Cuff Injury.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University, hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/shoulder-rotator-cuff-injury.
  3. “Shoulder Pain Causes and Treatment.” WebMD, WebMD LLC., webmd.com/pain-management/shoulder-pain#1.
  4. “Prevent Shoulder Injuries during Resistance Training.” American Council on Exercise, ACE Fitness, acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6597/prevent-shoulder-injuries-during-resistance-training.
    • Healthline
    • Boxrox
    • T-Nation
    • Men’s Health
    • Men’s XP
    • MyProtein
    • Muscle and Strength

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