What? You might be thinking just why the heck would I want to work out my neck? It’s tiny and no one cares if I work it or not. I can’t flex and show it off, so what’s the point? Well, I’ll tell you why.
First off, a strong neck can prevent a great number of injuries. Ask any wrestler and they will tell you how important that is. The neck is probably one of the most sensitive areas of the human body and any damage to it can lead to some very difficult and often permanent disabilities.
Another reason to train the neck is to improve your posture. If you have a desk job or spend a lot of time with your head down facing a screen, then you really should be working out your neck muscles. Chances are they are already quite stiff and are suffering from a number of imbalances. A lot of people these days, suffer from a disorder in which the spinal bones in the neck have been disfigured due to excessive use of mobile devices and computers. You may have sometimes noticed that you feel dizzy or lightheaded when moving your neck in certain directions, this could be because the bones are pinching the nerves in your neck, resulting in a lack of blood flowing through. Constantly having to look down is the culprit. Every 10 minutes or so, stretch your neck to counteract this imbalance.
The third reason is, a lot of nerves and muscles in your neck are directly or indirectly connected to your shoulder. If you are facing shoulder pain but don’t remember injuring your shoulder, your neck may be the culprit. A weak neck can result in weaker shoulders, which can result in a weaker bench press and nobody wants that.
Reason number 4. It looks badass. Have you ever seen someone with a thick neck and big traps? Looks badass don’t it? You know that person lifts and you know that he can probably pick you up with one hand. Think The Rock or Bill Goldberg.
So, How Do I Protect My Neck?
Get Rid of It
The best way to protect your neck is to get rid of it. You can’t injure what you don’t have right? I don’t mean chop your neck off and attach your head to your shoulders. I mean to get your traps and upper back so big and strong that your neck disappears into them. This is probably the best way to look badass and safeguard your neck.
The best way to do this is to get really strong. Big traps come from heavy lifting.
Get strong in exercises like the deadlifts and I guarantee you will have a stronger neck. Just always ensure proper form. Do 6-8 sets of heavy deadlifts and aim for a rep range of 4-6reps.
Shrugs are another great upper back and trap exercise. They are also probably the easiest exercises to do and you can easily work your way up the weight rack. It’s simple, just grab a heavy barbell in front of you and shrug or lift the weight up using just your trapezius muscles. Try to use as little of your arm muscles as possible. Alternatively, you can also use dumbbells instead of a barbell. Just hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing the sides of your body and shrug the weight up. Aim for 4-6 sets of 8-12 reps.
Another great strength and endurance building exercise. Farmer walks are easy and effective. All you do is grab the heaviest dumbbells or a trap bar if you’re lucky enough to have access to them, and walk as far as you can and walk back. Do about 5-10 minutes of these at the end of your workout and you will notice a great improvement in your neck, trap and shoulder muscles as well as your triceps, back and leg muscles.
Isolation Neck Exercises
There are a few exercises that you can use to really isolate the neck muscles.
The first one is called the lying face down neck resistance.
Lie face down a flat bench with your head hanging off the end. Place a light weight plate on the back of your head and hold it with both your hands from the sides. Now just lower your head and raise it back up slowly. This is one rep. Do 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps. Never use a heavy weight as this can place serious strain on your neck.
Another variation to this is the lying face UP neck resistance. This is done the same way as the previous exercise, except it is done lying face up with the weight plate resting on your forehead and works the front part of your neck. Do the same 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Another great isolation exercise is the neck harness extension. For this, you will need a special harness, which is an exercise tool that is placed on the head with a weight plate hanging from it. Just sit on a bench with the weight hanging in front of you and slowly raise your head up and slowly bring it back down. This is one rep. This movement should always be done in a slow and controlled motion using a light weight. Again, 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.