Neck training has become a lost art in strength and conditioning. I remember going to the gym when I was younger and seeing many people utilizing the neck harness. Now you go into a gym, and you will notice that same neck harness just sitting in the corner doing nothing. It is a shame because training your neck comes with a lot of benefits.
Neck training is still being done by a lot of fighters; boxer especially takes the time to get in an excellent neck workout often in their practice. It has been shown to help deal with taken punching. Having a weak neck for a boxer is like having a bowling ball sitting on top of a paper cup. Having a stiff neck will help getting punched in the face.
This is true for other contact sports as well. Having a strong neck is going to help mitigate the threat of concussion. Your head is a prized possession as a human being nevermind an athlete. You do not want to place that treasure on top of a weak structure. At least I wouldn't.
In this article we will talk about how to approach neck training, what tools you can use, and even break down some of the myths involved.
Tools For Neck Training
If you are going to get into some neck training, you are going to have to pick yourself up a neck harness probably. You know that weird leather or fabric headpiece that sits in the in the corner of your gym, never to be used.
Well if you want to get a bulletproof neck, this is virtually only with the expensive tool that is made especially for the job. It is a skull cap with a D ring on either side of your head with a chain connecting the whole thing. Looks goofy but it works.
We have talked about the use of resistance bands here on Athletic Courage a couple of times. Surprisingly, a resistance band can also be used to train your neck.
The good thing about using resistance bands is they are cheaper than weights, and they come in a variety of strengths. If you do not have access to a commercial gym, you can use resistance bands for a wide range of things.
You can use your body weight to train your neck; it is not for a beginner I would caution, however. The neck is made up of some pretty small muscles that must be strengthened first before moving to using your body weight
Neck Training Movements
Neck extensions are the primary movement you will see being completed. If you are using a neck harness, you are going to want to choose a weight that is light at first. If you have never trained any neck before you need to be extremely conservative in your weight choices.
Once you have the weight picked out for this movement. You should sit on a bench, allow the weight to fall between your legs and go through the entire range of motion.
If you are using a resistance band, you can attach it to any substantial post This will allow you to put the band behind your head and let you get the full range of motion.
Another great way to combine a resistance band, and the neck harness. Attach the band to a post, and put it on the chain of the neck harness. This Is a great way to train all the aspects of the neck.
Side flexion can be challenging to complete with the neck harness. You will need to be laying on your side with your head off of the bench. You may need a partner for this as well. When your head of off the bench you need to bring your head through the entire range of motion.
As mentioned above you can use the neck harness and the resistance band together. It allows for more comfortable feel while doing the movements; it also eliminates the need to lay down.
Isometrics are merely having to hold the weight in a set position for a specific amount of time. Training Isometrics for your neck is relatively simple.
If you are using a neck harness with weight plates then you are going to need to be in a prone position for all of the movements involved. For the extension ISO, you are going to need to lay on a bench with your stomach down. Have your head off the bench; it will also help to have a partner here to help bring the weight up or down from the static position.
For the Side ISO, you are going to do the same thing except you will be laying on your side with your head off the bench.
If you are using a resistance band to do these movements you can be standing you just have to move further away from the post to increase the resistance being applied.
Stand with your neck in a verticle position and hold for the programmed time.
Adding in a neck harness is excellent here as well the same rules apply. You will only have to turn the neck harness on your neck depending on if you are trying the side or the back of the neck.
Whatever tools you are using it does not really matter. The movements themselves matter. Choose your tool and just apply the programming to it.
3x20 each side
3x20 seconds all directions
Intermediate (increase resistance)
4x15 each side
2x30 seconds each direction
Advanced (increase resistance
4x10 each side
1x 1 min each direction
Neck Training Myths
Neck training is dangerous
Training is dangerous, period. You do not get involved in any training without knowing that it can cause damage if things are not done correctly and with respect.
Training your neck is no difference. You just do not just hop into training your neck like you have done it your entire life. All that will do is get you hurt. So saying that neck training is dangerous is false. Being stupid with neck training is dangerous.
Weaken Your Neck Over Time
The thought that training your neck is like digging a hole deeper and deeper is entirely nonsensical. The muscles in your neck are no different than any other tissues. They will adapt and respond to the stress in which you put them under. They will also recover from the pressure you put them under.
The time that it takes to recover however may change between people. It is simple don't train your neck like an animal, do it smartly, and your neck will merely get stronger!
Neck training can be the simplest thing to add to your training program; it can also be one the most beneficial. You are not doing this because you want to look better. Neck training is purely functional. It can help you mitigate the risk of concussion, improve your performance, and even maintain your posture as well.
As for the tools used in neck training they are easy to find, and use applying practice is simple as well. Getting your neck healthy should not be something that is looked at as dangerous as some may believe it to be. Make sure you take the time to add in neck training because it doesn't make sense to leave a stone unturned in your preparation.