Behind the neck pull-ups have become very popular thanks to various action movies. For example, the actor Will Smith included them in his training routine in “I am Legend”. However, this does not make the exercise better than it is. In general, behind the neck pull-ups are an inferior movement.
1.Short range of motion
Behind the neck pull-ups are a short range of motion (ROM) exercise. Where do you go after the bar hits your neck?
Your shoulders and neck hate behind the neck pull-ups. The movement puts your shoulder joints in the “impingement zone”, and you are 1 inch away from a neck strain that will keep you awake at night. Your elbows and wrists may revolt too.
3.Inefficient lat builder
Behind the neck pull-ups do not allow you to open your ribcage, which is required to hit your lats hard during pull-ups. If lats are your goal, ring pull-ups are better.
But my friend has been doing behind the neck pull-ups for years. He is in his 90s now and swears by them?
Getting away with something does not make it right. After all, there are lifetime smokers who have lived to be 90+ years old. Does that make smoking safe too?
Is the same true for the behind the neck overhead press?
In general, yes. The same principles apply to the press – too much stress on the shoulders and not enough ROM.