There is one exercise I have never included in my workout routine. I firmly believe that there is no reason you should perform this exercise. There are far more effective exercises that target the same muscle group without putting you at risk for serious injury. The exercise that I’m referring to is the behind the neck shoulder press, and to a slightly lesser extent, the lat pulldown behind the head.
Clay Hyght, a chiropractor, trainer and competitive bodybuilder and bodybuilding judge had this to say about the behind the neck shoulder press:
“The risks of doing behind-the-neck presses far outweigh the benefits,” Hyght says. “There are simply too many other good shoulder exercises that are both safe and effective. So, if you want to have shoulder problems, go ahead and do behind-the-neck presses. Otherwise, do something that makes more sense, like a dumbbell shoulder press.”
You can also use a machine shoulder press, although, remember that machines are built for everyone in the gym and use a limited range of motion. Machines allow for less use of your stabilizer muscles.
“There are quite a number of bio-mechanically sound shoulder machines,” Hyght says. “They typically offer a good combination of safety versus effectiveness. Hell, just about any shoulder press machine would be far safer than a behind-the-neck press!”
Still, Hyght asserts that the machine press should never replace the dumbbell or barbell shoulder press press. “I might choose a machine shoulder press as the primary shoulder movement once every five training cycles,” he says. “And even then, it would probably be specifically for intensity-boosting techniques, like rest-pause or forced reps.”
Take it from a chiropractor and competitive bodybuilder: there is no reason you need to be performing the behind the neck shoulder press. Hardgainers in particular need to perform compound lifts which utilize the most muscle groups.
Standing presses make you use more of your stabilizing muscles as well as your core. Pressing a free weight over your head can be intimidating and dangerous, so always use a spotter for heavier weights. Do not bring your elbows lower than 90 degrees, as this puts increased tension on the rotator cuffs.
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