Let’s be honest. Behind-the-neck pulldowns hit your teres major and midback with a unique angled attack. You pull from overhead down to squeeze your scapulae together. That’s much different from any row or even pulldowns or chins to the front.
Many experts, however, say that behind-the-neck pulldowns are deadly to your shoulder joints. That’s true—if you 1) use heavy weights, 2) jerk from the arm’s-extended position and/or 3) pull the bar too far down.
Even if your shoulders joints are strong, with no pain, though, you probably should not do them as your first back exercise. Try them instead at the very end of the workout so you can use a weight you can control. Here are a few other tips to make it safe and a midback masser-upper:
• Use a slower rep speed—at least two seconds each way.
• Pull the bar down to just below your ears—no lower—pause and squeeze.
• Do not extend your arms at the top and relax your shoulders to “stretch” your lats—remember, you’re using this as a midback finisher.