Iron Neck

Side Neck Muscles: What Are They and What Do They Do?

Side Neck Muscles: What Are They and What Do They Do?

Want to learn how to work out the side neck muscles? You've come to the right place. In this article, we'll share our three favorite Iron Neck exercises with you that directly target the muscles on the sides of the neck. Make no mistake, though - these exercises help strengthen other muscles in your neck too!

Before we get into these exercises, we want to cover some basic information for you. We'll explain what exactly those muscles in the side of your neck are - and what they're responsible for. Then, we'll explain why training these muscles is so important. Let's begin!

What Are The Different Muscles On The Side Of The Neck?

As you probably know, the neck is a complex structure on the body - perhaps the most complex of all. And to no surprise, there is a range of different muscle groups that make up the sides of your neck. These include:

  • The sternocleidomastoid (SCM) - this is the large, triangular muscle that starts at the base of your skull and runs down to your collarbone. It's responsible for moving your head from side to side, as well as tilting it forward and back.
  • The trapezius - this muscle extends from the base of your skull all the way down to your mid-back, and it helps you move your shoulders.
  • The levator scapulae - this muscle starts at the base of your skull and runs down to attach to your shoulder blade. It's responsible for lifting your shoulder blade when you move your head.
  • The splenius capitis and cervicis - these two muscles start at the base of your skull and attach to your spine. They work together to help you move your head from side to side.

Not only are these muscles on the sides of your neck responsible for helping you move the head and other parts of your body, such as the shoulders. But, they are also important for stabilizing the head and neck. With that said, allow us to explain why incorporating these muscle groups into your training regimen is so important.

Why Is It Important To Train The Side Neck Muscles?

Why do you need to train the side neck muscles, though? What is the importance of a strong neck?

There are a few reasons why training the muscles on the sides of your neck is so important. If you're an athlete - particularly, a combat or contact sports athlete - this is essential. It will help you prevent injury and improve performance. But even nonathletes stand to benefit from training the neck. Here are all the reasons we encourage you to start training your neck muscles

  • It helps prevent injury. When your neck muscles are strong, they're better able to support your head and protect your spine in the event of an accident or fall.
  • It improves athletic performance. Strong neck muscles improve power transfer from your upper body to your lower body, which can help you run faster, jump higher, and hit harder.
  • It helps you build a thicker, stronger neck. A thick, strong neck looks good and is a sign of strength and health. Not to mention, it can help you ward off the effects of aging - take a look at our favorite chicken neck exercises for more information. Or, learn about the consequences of a weak neck to see why a thick neck is worth working towards!
  • It improves posture. When your neck muscles are strong, they help support your head and keep it in alignment with your spine. This can improve your posture and alleviate pain in the shoulders and upper back. Check out some of these specific neck posture exercises along with our article on how to get proper neck posture to learn more.

How To Work Out The Muscles On The Side Of Your Neck

Now that we've gone over some of the reasons why training your neck muscles is so important, let's get into our three favorite exercises for working out those side neck muscles:

  • Look Left, Look Right
  • Figure Eights
  • Cervical Glides

Before we explain how to perform these side neck exercises, let’s start by getting the necessary equipment together.


If you are going to learn how to build neck muscles and take your training seriously, there is only one device you need: the Iron Neck. This is the best neck strengthener on the market. This one-of-a-kind exercise machine grants you the ability to train the neck from 360 degrees. It unlocks exercises that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to perform. The best part? You can do neck workouts at home with this device!

If you cannot afford the Iron Neck, this neck weight harness is the next best option. You can pair it with resistance loop bands and a resistance band door anchor to perform neck exercises and stretches.

Once you have your gear, there is one more thing we encourage you to do before getting started - read our complete guide on neck training. Once that's done, you can move on to the exercises we recommend for training your side of neck muscles. Let’s address the look left, look right movement - one of the best movements for the muscles on side of the neck.


This is one of the simplest - but most effective - side neck exercises you can perform.

To do this exercise, simply sit or stand tall with good posture. Then, slowly turn your head to the left as far as you can go without moving your shoulders.

Hold for a count of two, and then slowly turn your head to the right. Repeat for 12-15 reps.


This is another great exercise for working out the side muscles of your neck. To do this exercise, start by sitting or standing tall with good posture. Then, bring your right hand up to your forehead and interlace your fingers together.

Slowly trace a figure-eight pattern in the air - making sure to keep your eyes focused on one spot throughout the movement. As you trace a figure eight, be sure to move your head and not just your eyes. Repeat for 12-15 reps, and then switch directions.


This is a great exercise for stretching out the muscles on the side of the neck. To do this exercise, start by sitting or standing tall with good posture. Then, bring your right hand up to your forehead and interlace your fingers together. Gently pull your head to the right, so that you feel a stretch in the left side of your neck.

Hold for 20-30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Doing these exercises a few times per week will help you build strong, healthy muscles on the side of the neck - which can help prevent injury, improve athletic performance, and even make you look better! Give them a try and see for yourself.

Want to find other exercises to round out your training so you don't just focus on the side neck muscles? We have articles on exercises for a pinched nerve in the neck, neck spasm exercises, neck fat exercises, neck toning exercises, and more in our blog!

Final thoughts on How to Work Out the Muscles on the Side of the Neck

Well, there you have it. We’ve taught you how to work out the muscles on the side of your neck. You’ve even learned what these key side neck muscles are and what they’re responsible for. At this point, you’re ready to incorporate the three side neck exercises above into your regimen.

To learn more about building a strong, injury-proof neck, take a look at our article on the best neck exercises for mass. There, you'll learn how to get a thicker neck from all angles - not just beef up your side neck muscles. 

We also have handy guides on how often to do neck training and how much weight to start neck training with if you want additional guidance on incorporating these movements into your existing routine. We also have great resources on how to increase neck strength, how to stop carrying stress in the shoulders and neck, why your neck feels tight, or how to exercise your neck muscles in general. 

And if you want to continue your anatomy lesson for the day, we can teach you about suboccipital muscles, the vagus nerve, or the rest of the human neck muscles. Otherwise, the only thing left to do is get your training gear and start perfecting these exercises. In no time, your muscles on the side of the neck will be stronger and more mobile!