Ask any bodybuilder or fitness enthusiast what they think the least trained part of our bodies is. While some will probably tell you it's the calves, many are beginning to recognize that it's actually the neck. Not many people take training the neck seriously. Those who do are usually involved in a sport where the neck is constantly slammed, hit, or bent in unusual ways. This includes football, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, MMA, and more. And if you've experienced a neck injury, you probably made neck exercise a part of your regimen.
But athletes and people recovering from injury aren't the only ones who can benefit from training the neck. Everyone who takes their health and wellbeing seriously should incorporate it into their training regimen! If you're reading this blog post, then that means you're thinking about starting to train the neck. Good for you! But you probably have some questions before you get started. One of these may be, "how often should you do neck training?". In this quick article, we'll answer this question. We'll even provide you with a list of the best neck exercises to get started with. But before we get into the main question, let's talk a bit about the benefits of training the neck first.
what are the benefits of training the neck?
If you take a look at NFL athletes, professional mixed martial artists, boxers, and wrestlers you'll probably notice that they all have pretty muscular necks. And it isn't just for the sake of looks. Having a strong neck is a huge asset to athletes. A strong, muscular neck is better suited to absorb the impact of hits, prevent whiplash, and even improve performance. Here are some specific benefits you'll unlock.
reduced risk of neck-related injuries
At this point, you're probably thinking that there's no use in training your neck if you aren't in contact sports. But this doesn't only apply to athletes. Anyone can benefit from having a strong neck. You are less likely to get fractures, strains, sprains, and other neck injuries with stronger neck muscles. Studies have shown that those with stronger necks are actually less likely to suffer from a concussion due to whiplash. For every one pound of increase in neck strength, your likelihood of getting a concussion is decreased by 5% 1. Whiplash can happen to anyone, and not just during extreme car crashes. A minor fender bender, a roller coaster, or even a simple fall can cause whiplash. Prevent your neck from any future injuries by strengthening it.
Aside from protecting your neck from neck injuries, having a stronger neck actually gives you better posture. People with weak necks tend to have their heads protruding forwards. This is unnatural. Your ears are supposed to be directly on top of your shoulders. Training the neck will help you dial in this posture. There are even specific neck posture exercises you can try!
Less neck pain
People with weak necks also experience a lot of pain. Not just in their neck, but also in the back and shoulders. This is because their cervical spine isn't properly supported by their neck muscles. These muscles are used to carry our heads, which are heavier than you think. By training your neck, your cervical spine has more support. And thus, you'll get rid of that nagging pain in your neck.
will my neck muscles get bigger if i train too frequently?
If you came here to learn how often you should do neck training, you may be wondering about getting your neck thicker, too. Technically, yes, training the neck too frequently will result in a thick, muscular neck. Is this a bad thing, though? To us, a thicker neck is a blessing! It also depends on your starting point. If you have a high body fat percentage, chances are your neck is already big. But it isn't composed of neck muscle, it's composed of fat. By training the neck, you will lose neck fat. You'll actively be replacing it with muscle resulting in a smaller and more toned neck than before. There are even neck fat exercises you can try that will trim your neck up nicely. If you don't have much neck fat or much neck muscle either, training the neck will definitely result in bigger neck muscles and result in more muscle mass overall. So if your goal is to get a thick neck, strengthening your neck will definitely give you that look you're after. But, how often you train your neck also affects how big your neck muscles get—which leads us to our main question.
How often should i train my neck?
Training your neck is much like training any other part of your body. If you're a beginner, you should start small. Two to three times a week with rest days in between is a great place to start. If your goal is to build neck endurance, training your neck five times a week is a better goal. You can train your neck as often as you like depending on your goals and current strength level. But always remember to give your neck muscles time to recover. Without proper rest, your neck muscles won't develop. And, you'll only be more prone to neck injuries with a sore, under recovered neck. Do not overwork your neck muscles. When it comes to the number of sets and reps you should be doing, it's the same methodology. Start small and work your way up as you build your strength levels. The most important thing is that you're doing your neck exercise the right way. This requires learning the proper form and the right resistance level for you.
Best neck exercises for a stronger neck
Once you've planned out your neck workout schedule, all you have to think about is the kind of exercises you need to incorporate into your training. We've made a list of the best neck exercises for strength training, including the reps and number of sets you should do for each exercise.
Neck flexion is one of the most simple exercises you can add to your training regimen. And, it's one of the best out there.
Start by standing straight with your spine neutral. If you're using a resistance band, a neck harness, or a neck trainer, make sure the resistance is against your forehead. This means you should be facing away from the anchor point. Extend your head forward without moving any other part of your body. Keep your mouth closed the entire time as you try to bring your chin towards the top of your chest. Steadily return to your starting position and repeat the workout. You are basically nodding your head up and down. Do this for ten reps, 2-3 sets to start.
Neck lateral flexion
Start by standing straight with your spine neutral. If you're using a resistance band or the Iron Neck, make sure that the resistance is anchored at the side of your head. Tilt your head sideways without moving your shoulders. Keep on tilting your head until your ear hits your shoulder. You should feel a stretch along the side of your neck. Avoid lifting up your shoulders to meet your ear as you do this. Only your neck should be moving. Return to your starting position slowly and repeat the movement ten times before switching to the other side of your neck. Do 2 sets of 10 reps for each side.
This exercise will only work with the use of the Iron Neck. Focus on keeping the Iron Neck ring, resistance band, and anchor in alignment while maintaining perfect posture. Then, slowly spin with both feet in a complete circle - keeping your body in the same exact position. Your spine should be in alignment the entire time, with your eyes looking straight ahead. Do three rotations clockwise and another three rotations counter-clockwise. This exercise works great to increase neck stability.
Look left & look right
Keep the chin and eyes level parallel to the floor while you rotate the neck to look towards the left and right sides of your shoulder. Make sure to keep the shoulders relaxed and steady; this exercise is designed to focus on mobility in the neck specifically. This exercise can be done with no equipment or with the help of a neck harness or the Iron Neck. If you're using the Iron Neck, make sure to do the movement facing all four directions, front, back, and either side. Do five look lefts & look rights before facing another direction.
Protraction & retraction
This exercise can be done with resistance bands, a neck harness, or the Iron Neck. Begin by looking at the anchor point and backing away slowly until the tension is appropriate. The exercise initiates by pulling the nose away from the anchor point. This shortens the back of the neck, and concentrically engages the posterior chain. Then, reach forward with the nose, which eccentrically stretches the neck, thoracic spine, and posterior chain. Do the protraction and retraction eight times facing the anchor and then another eight times facing away from the anchor.
Train & Strengthen you Neck Muscles with Iron Neck
Anyone can strengthen their necks, not just athletes or people recovering from a neck injury. If you want to reduce neck pain, make yourself less prone to neck-related injuries, and improve your overall posture, this is the best way to go about it.
Improving your neck strength doesn't only affect your neck alone. It can also improve your back, arms, and shoulder muscles. It will improve your overall mobility and range of motion. If you want to train your neck effectively and really make it stronger, doing neck stretches or exercises without resistance won't cut it. You need some form of resistance to build strength. Just like you need weights to build muscle in the rest of your body, you need resistance bands, a neck harness, or a neck trainer to really build that strength and endurance in your neck. Fortunately, you can find all your neck training essentials right here at the Iron Neck.
Why the Iron Neck is the #1 Neck Strengthener
The Iron Neck is used by countless athletes and physical therapists around the globe. It's the first neck trainer that allows you to have a full range of motion during your neck exercises thanks to its 360 rotational sliders. You not only get to do isometric exercises as you would with the use of resistance bands and medicine balls, but you also get to do eccentric, concentric, and rotational movements. It gives you a very holistic neck workout that really targets every inch and angle of your neck, strengthening it all over. Go get yours, or read our complete guide on neck training for more information!