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The Power Magazine

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Military Behind The Neck Press for Shoulders, Traps amd more.
Behind the Neck and In Front Of The Neck for Good Results.

Weight Lifting Article Provided by www.CriticalBench.com

Ted Arcidi Behind The Neck Press Technique

By: Dennis B. Weis "The Yukon Hercules"

"I feel that with all supplementary exercises to choose from, the behind the neck press is the most useful in obtaining upper-torso stability (a must to be a half decent bencher in today's lifting society)."

Iron Man Magazine, September 1985

"My behind the neck press I cherish as being one of the greatest upper body exercises to aid the bench press."

Muscle & Fitness, May 1989

"I have always valued the press behind the neck as one of the greatest upper body exercises to aid the bench press."

The above quotes were Ted Arcidi's exact insights and expressions regarding the behind the neck press. Doing an exercise such as the behind the neck press without giving thought to the muscle groups being worked may only yield 50-70% of ones specific goal. With this in mind I will begin this article by describing in detail the actual execution of the behind the neck press as Ted Arcidi prefers to do it and then conclude the article with some meaningful and productive exercise programs for this exercise.

Starting Point

behind the neck press Ted executes the behind the neck press in either one of two ways, the first way is the standing version (his favorite method by which to execute this lift) or secondly in a seated position. Ted grasps the bar (he likes to use an Olympic bar for this particular exercise rather than a conventional exercise bar) with palms down or pronated grip.

Ted's hand position is approximately 6-10" wider apart than his shoulders or whatever grip is necessary to produce the results of having his massive forearms as nearly parallel as possible. This of course is determined by his existing flexibility in the shoulder region. Ted doesn't clean the bar from the floor to his shoulders at the beginning of each set. This would be a real drain on his existing energy stores, especially when he begins to handle some top poundage's.

As a matter of fact Ted told me that he could never have done 315 plus pounds in this exercise for 10 solid reps or a mind boggling 400 plus pounds for 2 to 3 reps if he had to clean the bar to the shoulders for even one set!!! The best way he has found to begin this exercise is to merely take the bar off the squat rack (adjustable for either the standing or seated version) at the beginning of each set and then replace it on the rack when he has completed his set.

With the bar resting on his herculean upper trapezius muscles the massive Arcidi takes a deep breath, holds it, and begins pressing the ponderous barbell to lockout or until the elbows are fully extended. When bar is extended overhead, he drop his shoulders, contract lats (puts leverage on medial delts not traps) thrusts his chest forward and tightens the abs. At the point of two-thirds of lockout, he expels the air in his lungs. At certain times in his training cycle in the behind the neck press Ted will employ what I term.DOUBLE OXYGEN BREATHING. He will inhale at the beginning of the rep, hold the air, breath out at two-thirds of lockout, breath in again at the completion of the lockout, hold the breath as he lowers the barbell to the starting position, then exhale.

This double oxygen breathing technique stabilizes the chest and associated ribcage areas so that proper action takes place in the shoulder girdle and joint regions.

If you have ever had the opportunity to attend one of Ted Arcidi's power lifting and nutritional seminars in years past you couldn't help but notice that he always did his behind the neck presses standing. More balance is required in this particular lifting style and Ted's tremendous reserve of strength in the legs, back and abdominals serve him well for this endeavour. His body balance is always on the balls of his feet and never over the feet towards the heels. His feet are usually parallel and at least shoulder width apart to each other but one is slightly ahead of the other.

He looks straight ahead when executing each and every rep and never allows himself to look up or down (creates problems with balance). Occasionally he will hit a sticking point in a particular range of movement in the last couple of reps in a set. When he notices the weight beginning to slow down he will wedge or bow into the weight slightly with his hips which shortens the height of his actual physical structure and by doing so he seem to bypass the sticking point in the rep or reps.

Now that you know the exact execution of the Behind the neck press as Ted prefers it I would like to include a couple of meaningful training schedules which will release your reservoir of untapped strength.

Behind The Neck Press Schedule No. 1

First, do the behind the neck press with a barbell, seated. Perform five slow, strict reps, no cheating, using a poundage that can be handled properly. After you have finished these, stand up and continue with ten moderately fast reps in the behind the neck press, cheating if necessary but try to keep it to the final reps 9 and 10.

Next, sit down again and with the aid of a spotter, to lift the barbell to arms length overhead each rep, lower the barbell in negative fashion under your own power, to your shoulders. Do this for 10 negative reps. Next do 5 half reps in which you press the barbell from your shoulders to the top of the head. Now press the bar from the shoulders to approximately eye level for a big triple. Now grab an unloaded exercise bar and do 5 fast reps to ease the lactic acid burn in the muscle. All of the above procedures constitutes ONE SET, performed continuously without any rest/pauses whatsoever. The number of sets you do will depend on whether you are an intermediate or advanced bodybuilder and your current level of conditioning. Intermediate level bodybuilders and powerlifters can do 5-7 sets while those of the advanced nature can perform 7-10 sets.

Schedule No. 2

Ted usually works the behind the neck press twice per week on Tuesday and Saturdays. Ted recommends the following 3 optional workout cycles for the Behind the neck press.

Week No. 1


Set 1
65% of MAX for 8 reps

Set 2
75% of MAX for 8 reps

Set 3
80% of MAX for 6-8 reps

Set 4
80% of MAX for 6-8 reps


Set 1
65% of MAX for 8 reps

Set 2
75% of MAX for 8 reps

Set 3
84% of MAX for 5-6 reps

Set 4
84% of MAX for 5-6 reps

Week No. 2


Set 1
65% of MAX for 8 reps

Set 2
75% of MAX for 8 reps

Set 3
86% of MAX for 4-5 reps

Set 4
86% of MAX for 4-5 reps


Cycle with the workout you did on Tuesday in week one.

Week No. 3


Cycle with the workout you did on Saturday in week one.


Cycle with the workout you did on Tuesday in week two.

There you have it future champion, all of the elements necessary to increase your behind the neck press the Ted Arcidi way. Adopt the attitude of a future champion. THINK SUCCESS, THINK BIG, SET SPECIFIC GOALS, DEVELOP AN INTENSE DESIRE TO WIN and most of all DEVELOP A POSITIVE SELF IMAGE OF YOURSELF.

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