Overhead vs. Behind-The-Neck Press, Coaching Depth and Muscle Development, and Weightlifting and Mind Operate


It’s estimated that there are over 2+ million scientific papers revealed annually, and this firehose solely appears to accentuate.

Even when you slim your focus to health analysis, it might take a number of lifetimes to unravel the hairball of research on diet, coaching, supplementation, and associated fields.

Because of this my staff and I spend hundreds of hours annually dissecting and describing scientific research in articles, podcasts, and books and utilizing the outcomes to formulate our 100% all-natural sports activities dietary supplements and inform our teaching companies. 

And whereas the ideas of correct consuming and exercising are easy and considerably immutable, reviewing new analysis can reinforce or reshape how we eat, practice, and reside for the higher. 

Thus, every week, I’m going to share three scientific research on eating regimen, train, supplementation, mindset, and life-style that can enable you acquire muscle and energy, lose fats, carry out and really feel higher, reside longer, and get and keep more healthy. 

This week, you’ll study the easiest way to coach all three heads of your delts, a typical downside that stops many individuals from constructing muscle, and whether or not weightlifting makes you smarter.


Is the behind-the-neck press the reply to well-developed delts?

Supply: “Front vs Back and Barbell vs Machine Overhead Press: An Electromyographic Analysis and Implications For Resistance Training” revealed on July 22, 2022 in Frontiers in Physiology.

If you wish to maximize your upper-body aesthetics, you want spherical, proportional shoulders.

And the overhead press is among the greatest workout routines for constructing your shoulders … not less than half of your shoulders.

The issue is that when your shoulder coaching primarily consists of overhead urgent, your “entrance delts” will develop properly, however your  facet and rear delts could lag just a little.

This begs the query: is there a greater option to press that trains practice all three heads of the delts extra uniformly?

Scientists on the College of Milan endeavored to seek out out with this study.

That they had eight aggressive male bodybuilders do one set every of the seated barbell overhead press, seated behind-the-neck barbell press, seated machine overhead press, and seated machine behind-the-neck press. Throughout every train, the researchers measured muscle activation in every head of the delts and the pecs, traps, and triceps.

The outcomes confirmed that the traps and triceps have been equally lively no matter train and that the pecs have been barely extra lively in the course of the overhead press variations than the behind-the-neck press variations.

Relating to shoulder activation, the entrance delts have been equally lively throughout all workout routines, however the facet and rear delts have been considerably extra lively in the course of the behind-the-neck barbell press than within the different workout routines.

Listed here are these leads to graph type:

Muscle activation during different overhead press variations

At first studying, many individuals will take this to imply the behind-the-neck press is superior to the overhead press for growing your shoulders, however I’m not satisfied for a number of causes.

First, most individuals discover the behind-the-neck press uncomfortable as a result of it calls for a level of shoulder mobility that almost all of individuals lack. Even for these with satisfactory shoulder mobility, it normally requires that you simply jut your head ahead to keep away from knocking your noggin, making it a clumsy place to press from.

Second, to carry out the behind-the-neck press, you must put your shoulders into the so-called “high-five” place (higher arm out to the facet along with your elbow bent at 90 levels and your palm going through ahead). Research shows that this place is inherently much less steady on your shoulders than whenever you carry your elbows ahead, which will increase your danger of shoulder damage.

And third, to compensate for the uncomfortable urgent place and elevated damage danger, the behind-the-neck press forces you to make use of lighter weights than you’ll be able to ordinarily press, limiting the train’s muscle- and strength-building potential.

By my lights, a greater strategy to constructing proportional shoulders is to make the overhead press (seated, standing, or each) the main focus of your shoulder coaching. It permits you to practice your shoulders (and several other different upper-body muscle teams) with heavy weights safely and progress regularly, making it superb for gaining muscle and energy, and is comfy for most individuals.

Then spherical out your shoulder improvement with isolation workout routines for the facet and rear delts, such because the cable and dumbbell side lateral raise, dumbbell rear lateral raise, barbell rear delt row, and machine reverse fly.

Or, you probably have limited time to train and need to maximize your shoulder improvement with one train, I’d select the dumbbell shoulder press. This variation permits you to undertake an identical place to the behind-the-neck press, which ought to practice your facet and rear delts greater than barbell urgent. Nonetheless, since you use dumbbells, your arms and shoulders can transfer extra freely, permitting you to discover a secure, steady, and comfy place.

That is how I personally like to arrange my coaching, and it’s much like the tactic I advocate in my health books for women and men, Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger

(And when you’d like much more particular recommendation about how you need to set up your coaching to achieve your well being and health targets, take the Legion Strength Training Quiz, and in lower than a minute, you’ll know the right energy coaching program for you. Click here to check it out.)

TL;DR: The behind-the-neck press could practice your facet and rear delts greater than the overhead press, nevertheless it forces you into an uncomfortable and compromised place, limiting its muscle- and strength-building potential.

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Lifting weights however not constructing muscle? You’re most likely not coaching onerous sufficient. 

Supply: “Are Trainees Lifting Heavy Enough? Self-Selected Loads in Resistance Exercise: A Scoping Review and Exploratory Meta-Analysis” revealed on July 5, 2022 in Sports activities Medication (Auckland N.Z.).

Many weightlifters really feel like they bust a intestine within the fitness center however don’t see the progress they imagine they deserve.

If that is so for you, a current meta-analysis carried out by scientists at Solent College may clarify why.

The researchers parsed the scientific literature and located 18 appropriate research analyzing how onerous individuals habitually practice. 

In most of those research, the researchers requested individuals to carry out 3 units of 10 reps of an train (a pair used decrease rep ranges or requested the weightlifters to do as many units and reps as they needed). 

Nonetheless, earlier than doing the train, the researchers requested the individuals to self-select the burden they have been going to make use of. The one stipulation was that the individuals had to decide on a weight that will make the units difficult.

For instance, in a single study, the researchers requested weightlifters to pick out weights that they thought would make doing 3 units of 10 reps of the bench press, leg press, and biceps curl troublesome. 

The outcomes confirmed that when most individuals are left to their very own units, they choose a weight that’s equal to ~53% of their one-rep max for a set of 10 reps (keep in mind that most individuals can carry out 10 reps of an train with ~75% of their one-rep max). This held true no matter expertise, age, intercourse, the timing of the one-rep max test, and the muscle group being educated. 

The researchers additionally discovered that when individuals carried out a number of units, they tended to decide on barely heavier weights set-to-set and that they tended to pick out marginally heavier weights when doing lower-rep units.

When the scientists scrutinized the information additional, they discovered that individuals usually used progressively heavier weights over time once they educated in decrease rep ranges (<10 reps per set) however progressed extra cautiously once they educated in increased rep ranges (>10 reps per set). In addition they seen that when individuals choose their rep targets, they often go away 6-to-7 reps in reserve on the finish of every set. This was notably true throughout high-rep coaching.

In different phrases, most individuals most likely don’t raise heavy sufficient weights to maximise their progress within the fitness center. 

You don’t have to coach all the best way to failure to construct muscle—stopping 1-to-3 reps shy is normally enough. These outcomes present, nonetheless, that when most individuals do units of 10 reps, they go away ~10 reps within the tank, which implies they don’t push themselves practically onerous sufficient if their objective is to build muscle

How will you keep away from sandbagging your exercises?

First, intention to finish all of your units 1-to-3 reps shy of failure. To make sure you’re doing that, ask your self this query on the finish of every set, simply earlier than re-racking the burden: “If I completely needed to, what number of extra reps might I get with good type?”

If the reply is greater than two, enhance the burden or reps to make your subsequent set more difficult. If the reply is one or zero, scale back the burden or reps to make your subsequent set much less difficult. 

When you’re happy that you simply’re coaching shut sufficient to failure, make sure you proceed progressing by implementing double progression. Do that by rising the burden you utilize for an train when you hit the highest of your rep vary for one set. 

TL:DR: Most individuals choose weights which can be too gentle and do too few reps to maximise muscle progress. Don’t make the identical mistake.

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Weightlifting could make you smarter.

Supply: “Effects of Acute Resistance Exercise on Executive Function: A Systematic Review of the Moderating Role of Intensity and Executive Function Domain” revealed on December 8, 2022 in Sports activities Medication.

The obvious advantage of train is that it improves your physical health, however an increasing number of analysis exhibits it’s additionally good on your mind well being.

Particularly, there’s a rising physique of proof that it improves government operate (EF), which refers to a gaggle of psychological expertise that allow you to regulate your ideas, feelings, consideration, and behaviors.

EF has three core domains: 

  1. Inhibitory management, which is your capability to make selections with out tendencies or exterior distractions affecting your judgment.
  2. Working reminiscence, which is your capability to retailer or replace beforehand saved data in response to the calls for of the duty you’re doing.
  3. Cognitive flexibility, which is your capability to make use of inhibitory management and dealing reminiscence to change your perspective and strategy to a state of affairs. 

Utilizing these expertise adeptly helps you construct sturdy relationships, excel academically and professionally, and avoid psychological and bodily decline as you age. In different phrases, boosting EF is a technique to enhance your high quality of life dramatically. 

To additional our understanding of how weightlifting impacts EF and attempt to puzzle out how onerous you’ll want to practice to spice up EF, researchers at Nationwide Taiwan Regular College carried out a systematic review of 19 research investigating 42 separate “outcomes” (the analysis measured a complete of 42 totally different information factors, principally).

Total, weightlifting positively affected EF for 57% of the outcomes measured, ~43% confirmed it didn’t have an effect on EF, and no research confirmed it had a detrimental impact on EF.

When it comes to depth, moderate-intensity weightlifting benefitted EF most persistently (~72% of the outcomes studied confirmed a optimistic impact), adopted by low-intensity ~(57%), then high-intensity weightlifting (~41%).

Weightlifting boosted inhibitory management most usually (~65% of the outcomes studied confirmed a optimistic impact). Comparatively, ~44% and 50% of the research reported optimistic outcomes on working reminiscence and cognitive flexibility, respectively.

In different phrases, the outcomes confirmed that weightlifting most likely advantages EF (particularly inhibitory management), and moderate-intensity weightlifting possible confers probably the most advantages.

This may make you assume you’ll want to take a average strategy to weightlifting if you wish to increase mind energy (no “pump training” or low-rep units, for instance), however I doubt that’s the case.

In a 2019 meta-analysis carried out by scientists at Goethe College Frankfurt, researchers once more discovered that weightlifting positively impacts EF, although they discovered that low- and high-intensity coaching was the simplest and moderate-intensity weightlifting was bootless on this regard.  

The distinction between these research was that every measured weightlifting’s impact on EF in a different way—they included various kinds of research, used totally different testing strategies and time scales, and so forth.

With that in thoughts, all forms of weightlifting appear prone to profit EF. If a research suggests in any other case, it’s most likely extra of a mirrored image on how the researchers designed their evaluation quite than a knock on anyone kind of coaching.

One other vital level when deciphering these outcomes is that they check with the “acute” results of weightlifting on EF. That’s, they present that weightlifting boosts cognitive operate shortly after coaching, not that it improves EF long run.

Thus, if you wish to harness the brain-boosting advantages of weightlifting, it is smart to schedule your exercises within the morning, earlier than work or class, or shortly earlier than you do one thing that requires your full consideration (an examination or an vital assembly, for instance). Although it stands to motive train would additionally increase long-term mind operate, this isn’t as nicely established.

TL;DR: Weightlifting possible improves government operate for a short time after coaching.

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