Is The Klokov Press Safe?

November 15, 2022 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “is the klokov press safe?”. The Klokov press is a shoulder press variation performed by the Russian weightlifter Dmitry Klokov. 

Klokov is brutally strong and jacked at the same time. He can perform multiple reps of Klokov presses with 125kg! The Klokov press is essentially a snatch grip standing behind the neck press.

There are safety concerns levelled all the time at the behind the neck press. This article will examine the safety of this exercise and whether it is one that you should try.

Is The Klokov Press Safe?

Much like a lot of exercises, if you lack sufficient mobility then the exercise is not safe. This is also true of the klokov press. If you lack shoulder mobility and are unable to get into thoracic extension then the klokov press would be unsafe for you.

You should try the exercise with very light weights first and see how your body responds. If you are experiencing pain then you shouldn’t increase the weight until your mobility has improved or you are able to execute it pain free.

Some people complain of wrist pain with the snatch grip, an easy fix would be to move your grip in slightly. 

Overall, the klokov press is much harder than a standard military press overhead. It is great at building up the medial deltoids though. If you have sufficient mobility then you should explore this exercise further.

I wouldn’t recommend going for one rep max attempts on this exercise, even though Klokov does. The risk to reward is not in your favour. The standing overhead press to the front is safer for attempting maximal loads.

You Need Good Shoulder Mobility

It cannot be understated how important good shoulder mobility is for being able to execute the Klokov press properly and without pain.

A good way to improve shoulder mobility is to add lots of face pulls into your routine. You can do them with bands or cables. Face pulls will also help in building up the traps and upper back musculature.

When you are doing the Klokov press you need a good shelf for the bar to sit on your back. The exercise also relies on being able to achieve good thoracic extension. 

You want to bring your elbows down before initiating the press. This will also serve to bring your chest up. If you are very tight in your upper back and shoulders then you will struggle to perform the exercise with good technique. 

The biggest mistake that can be made is performing this exercise despite having poor shoulder mobility. Even worse is loading it very heavy with poor shoulder mobility. The risk of injury is very high.

Can’t Go As Heavy

You should be aware that the Klokov press is harder than a standard military press to the front. Therefore you shouldn’t be trying to use the same weights on this exercise as the military press.

There is a learning curve with the Klokov press, just like any other exercise. You have to ensure that you perfect good technique from the outset and are able to execute it without any pain.

To progressively overload the movement you can increase the reps, weight or total volume. As a guide I would recommend the reps fairly moderate. You could work up to a heavy set of 6-8 reps on your top set.

By not going ultra heavy above 90% of your 1RM you will reduce the risks of injury. The behind the neck press already puts you in a more compromised position than pressing to the front.

Whilst Dmitry Klokov is frequently going very heavy on the Klokov press, it is important to note that he is a high level and experienced weightlifter. He is also freaky strong and not a great comparison.

By doing more reps you will become acclimated to the movement faster and develop a greater efficiency. Rep work in general is a great way to practice an exercise and become a lot more efficient at it. This is all providing you are using great technique.

klokov press

Good Test For Shoulder Mobility

The klokov press is also a great test for shoulder mobility. If you are able to execute the klokov press with good form and pain free, it shows that you have adequate mobility throughout the shoulders.

Very often the behind the neck press gets a bad reputation. This is largely due to the fact that it does put you in a mechanically more compromised position to the press in front.

However, there are very strong lifters like Ed Coan who swear by the movement. Ed has worked up to some ridiculously heavy behind the neck presses – 400lbs for a single and 350lbs x 5!

I believe that if you have adequate shoulder mobility, you can execute the behind the neck press without too many problems. You just have to ensure that you pay attention to how your body is feeling when you increase weights. Slow and steady is the best approach.

Klokov In Action

The video below shows Klokov in action performing the Klokov press. You can see how strong he is on this movement pressing 125kg for 4 reps.

The last rep is very difficult but he manages to get it up. For the majority of people, I would not advise going to all out failure on this exercise. This is due to the increased injury risks incurred.

Klokov has many years of lifting experience and is a top level weightlifter. He is admired all around the world in the lifting community for his feats of strength and general “badassery”. 

Final Thoughts

Is the klokov press safe? I am going to reiterate the main points. Firstly, the Klokov press is not safe if you are lacking shoulder and upper back mobility.

It is a movement that you need to start off very light to perfect the technique and pay attention to how your body responds. Be sure to not ignore any pain signals, this means something is not right.

I would advise using this exercise as an accessory movement and focusing more on rep work as opposed to going for a one rep max. Behind the neck presses can be great for building up your medial delts and building strength and size.

If you have any comments on the Klokov press please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

>> Why Do I Feel Face Pulls In My Traps?

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