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4 Essential Exercises for a Stronger Neck

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. See a doctor before embarking on any new exercise program or if you experience any pain while exercising.

Necksercise! It’s a thing. And I feel like I’m taking crazy pills because yes, squats are important, and sure, deadlifts and power cleans stimulate the neck muscles some, but there are real, legitimate benefits to training your neck directly.

1) You look like a badass

First of all, let’s be superficial: people look at your head. And the closest bunch of muscles to your face is your neck. And if you have a thick, muscular neck, you immediately look like a badass. It’s the only muscle group that’s visible when you’re wearing a suit or a coat. You want people to know you work out even if you’re bundled up in winter? Train your neck. There’s a reason “pencil neck” is an insult.

2) It’s life insurance

This is the muscle group that supports your damn head. It’s super important to have a strong, healthy neck. Boxers and martial artists train their necks to reduce the risk of whiplash and neck strain when they’re getting punched in the face, but if you ever travel by car, it’s a good idea for you, too. Whiplash sucks.

A strong neck has also been linked to a lower risk of concussion, which is why a lot of NFL athletes work the neck. We don’t need to say why neck injuries should be avoided at all costs. Stronger neck = lower injury risk.

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Rumor has it Mr. T aka CLUBBER LANG Is going to be on "dancing with the stars " Good luck because I was seeing shooting stars every time he Clubbed me . Like I said before we were on strict diet. Mr. T suffered and got into great shape. Not easy , He loves to eat and we were existing on barely nothing and he had already dropped 30 pounds. We would find candy bars hidden in his motorhome and laugh about it. Finally, We made a deal that we would tough it out and literally exist on tunafish , water , coffee and not much else until the fight was over. But the DEAL was on Friday when we finished , each of us would have a quart of ice cream. His favorite was MINT CHIP , he loved it! All week long he would be talking about the MINT CHIP ice cream. How slow is going to eat it, how it's going to melt in his mouth, Between punches, in clinches, between round he dreamed only about Friday night and his Beloved MINT CHIP ice cream .. I had VANILLA FUDGE ice cream waiting for me. By Thursday we were actually drooling , By Friday we were Clinically insane with hunger. Our stomachs ached !!When I finally yelled cut after throwing the last series of punches, the fight was over,and still dressed in boxing trunks we sprinted to his motorhome… we raced down the sidewalk necking neck like it was some sort of weird Olympic event! Arriving there, at our desired destination, Mr T Ripped open the door and like a rampaging elephant, he charged the freezer. Two seconds later I heard the man roar in agony! My ice cream was perfect… his was not – NO MINT CHIP!! He lost it! He was so disappointed! Crushed! This was going to be the greatest Friday ever! We brought the individual responsible for this unforgivable mistake, And though we are not proud of it, and being on the verge of starvation we felt it was only justice was to stuff the man' upper body into the freezer compartment. Truly. Luckily he didn't fit . Moments later, literally emotionally spent, we ate my ice cream in utter silence.. I didn't want to say a word… to this day I cannot look at a container of mint chip ice cream and not think of my buddy CLUBBER and his sad , very eyes.

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3) Fewer headaches

Tension headache have a ton of causes, but there’s evidence that neck exercises can help to both relax and strengthen the muscles that might contribute to them.

4) Less neck pain

This might seem obvious, but a Danish study found that female desk workers who had been suffering from neck pain experienced a significant decrease in pain when they performed dedicated neck strengthening exercises as opposed to general, full-body exercises.

How to Strengthen Your Neck

So how do you strengthen your neck? There are over a dozen muscles in the neck and it’s a delicate area of the body, particularly if you’ve never worked it out before. Shrugs, one-armed rows, upright rows, reverse flyes, and lateral raises will help, but here are a few direct exercises.

Note that these are not exercises for attempting a 1-rep max. They’re movements best utilized with a relatively high rep range, say two or three sets of 15 to 20 reps. Keep the motion smooth and don’t rush through reps. Stretch downward, sideward, and rotationally before you get started.

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Strengthening neck flexion. • *****As a precaution to starting neck training I would strongly suggest seeking out proper instruction from a professional and if you have a current condition of the neck or spine be certain to check with you Health practitioner. Above all else be certain to start light and deliberate. Controlled movements only.*** • • 1 round [email protected] 15lbs • 1 round [email protected] 25lbs • 1 round [email protected] 35lbs (shown) • • Incredibly valuable for those who find their first movement or breakdown of their kinetic chain is lifting the chin. As in not keeping it tucked on deadlift type movements for example. • • Also crucial for combat sports or real life scenarios to help prevent knock out and concussion from sudden contact to the chin. In turn keeping the head stable. • • You're not looking to push the head forward. You are looking to pivot the head in top of the spine. Look to keep the neck as stable as possible chin tucked and tongue to the roof of your mouth. #neck #necktrainning #neckflexion #combatsports #combatsportsconditioning #strongerneck #noneck #noneckgang #starttheworld #opww #legiogloria #sportsperformance #sportsconditioning #mmacondtioning #strengthandconditiong #asthetics #anabolic #prepare #prepared #striking #headshot #football #soccer #hockey #lacrosse #strengthtraining @jailhousestrong @g.k.still.i.rise @mitchellstrength

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Flexion

Lie face up with your head off the side of a bench, put a light plate on your forehead — you might find it easier to put a towel in between them — and nod downward and upward.

Extension

If you’ve got a neck harness, this is a great time to use it to lift your head back against resistance. If not, a resistance band or your hand can work.

Lateral flexion

Place your palm against your temple and try to touch your ear to your shoulder, pushing into your head for resistance. Do the same in the other direction.

Look-aways

With a resistance band or your hand, use gentle pressure to rotate your head in both directions.

There are some more specialized neck programs out there but for the average athlete, doing a few sets of these exercises each week should be enough to make a significant improvement in your neck strength and size.

This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured image via @therock on Instagram.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. At BarBend his writing more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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