Neck training -- something that was once relegated to only being fit for combat athletes, wrestlers, and martial artists has taken the bodybuilding world by storm.
In fact, until recently, direct neck training was about as rare as seeing someone perform full ROM barbell squats at Planet Fitness!
The muscles of the neck can flex, extend, laterally flex, and rotate. That being said, the neck is strongest in extension followed by lateral bending, then flexion, and it’s weakest in rotation.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU TRAIN THE NECK?
One set of neck exercises performed twice per week has been shown to dramatically increase neck strength in as little as 4 weeks!
WHAT EXERCISES SHOULD I PERFORM?
Flexion basically means “tilting your head forward.”
The primary muscles involved are the longus colli, longus capitis, and infrahyoids, and they can be effectively worked on a neck machine by facing the machine and putting your forehead against the pad. Then, tilt your head forward against the resistance and perform 2-3 sets of 10-20 repetitions.
If you don’t have access to a neck machine, you can perform this movement using a resistance band or have your training partner provide manual resistance.
Extension involves moving your chin away from your chest. The primary muscles involved here are the splenius capitis, semispinalis capitis, suboccipitals, and the trapezius.
The best way to train extension is with a neck harness, which can be acquired for as little as $20. You can also use bands and/or self- or partner-administered resistance.
Lateral flexion simply means tilting your head to the side.
The primary muscles involved are the scalenes.
Similar to the other neck training movements, it can be performed on a neck machine, with resistance bands, or with self- or partner-administered resistance. Perform 2 sets of 10-20 reps.
Rotation involves turning your head to the side.
To perform this exercise, no fancy machines are needed. Simply turn your head to the side, trying to look over your shoulder and apply resistance with your hand. Perform two sets of 8-10 reps each way.