Injury Rehab

Neck Curl Exercise: Complete Guide to Neck Curl-Ups

Neck Curl Exercise: Complete Guide to Neck Curl-Ups

Neck strength and flexibility are crucial for both athletic performance and everyday well-being, yet they are often overlooked in standard fitness routines. The neck curl exercise is a popular movement to target these areas. But, is it really worth adding to your routine?

From the risk of strain due to improper technique to the limited scope of muscle engagement, neck curl-up exercises don’t always deliver as expected. 

So while we will walk you through how to do a neck curl, it’s worth noting that there are so many other movements at your disposal when you invest in the Iron Neck: the #1 neck trainer on the market for 360-degree neck training.

That being said, let’s refocus our conversation for the time being - what is a neck curl, and how do you do it?

What is a Neck Curl Exercise?

This is an exercise specifically designed to strengthen the muscles in the neck, particularly the sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius. 

Strengthening these muscles is crucial to improve neck posture and support the head. They are involved in movements such as flexion and rotation of the neck. Learn more about neck muscle anatomy in our blog.

The exercise involves the flexion of the neck to bring the chin towards the chest, similar to an abdominal curl but for the neck. This movement targets the anterior (front) neck muscles. 

Regular practice can lead to increased neck muscle strength, improved posture, and potentially reduced neck pain. This is particularly beneficial for athletes in contact sports, individuals with desk jobs, or anyone looking to enhance their overall neck strength and health.

This exercise is often performed lying down on a flat surface, which helps in maintaining proper alignment of the spine during the exercise. 

It can be done with or without added weight, depending on the individual's strength and fitness level. While the exercise seems straightforward, it's crucial to perform it with the correct form to avoid strain or injury. 

We’ll talk more about the benefits and drawbacks of this movement later on, but first, let’s walk you through how to do a neck curl exercise.

How to Do a Neck Curl Exercise: Step-by-Step Guide 

Whether you’re performing this exercise, Bruegger's exercise for neck, neck extension exercise, neck roll exercise, or the neck bridge, proper form is key to maximizing the benefits while minimizing risks. So, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do a neck curl exercise safely.

Step 1: Starting Position

Begin by lying down on your back on a flat, comfortable surface. Your legs can be straight or bent at the knees with your feet flat on the ground.

Place your hands gently on your abdomen or by your sides, ensuring they do not interfere with the movement of your neck.

Step 2: Initial Neck Position

Start with your head in a neutral position, your eyes facing the ceiling. Ensure your neck is aligned with your spine, avoiding any tilt or strain.

Step 3: The Curl Movement

Slowly tuck your chin towards your chest, lifting your head off the ground. This movement should be controlled and originate from your neck muscles, not your upper body.

Only lift your head as far as comfortable, maintaining a smooth, controlled motion. You should feel your neck muscles engaging, but not straining.

Step 4: Hold and Lower

Hold the curled position for a few seconds, focusing on the contraction in your neck muscles.

Slowly lower your head back to the starting position. It's important to control the descent, rather than allowing your head to simply fall back.

Step 5: Repetitions and Sets

Repeat the movement for a set number of repetitions. Beginners should start with fewer reps, such as 5-10, and gradually increase as their strength improves.

Rest briefly between sets, and aim for 2-3 sets in total.

Safety Tips and Considerations

Always perform the movement with a focus on control and precision, rather than speed or the number of repetitions. If you experience any pain beyond mild discomfort, stop the exercise immediately.

Adding weight to the exercise, such as a small weight plate on the forehead, should only be done under professional guidance and when sufficient strength has been developed.

Breathing is crucial. Exhale as you curl up and inhale as you return to the starting position.

Is the Neck Curl-Up Exercise Worth Adding to Your Regimen?

Whether you’re looking for exercises to tighten neck or the best neck exercises for mass, is this a good addition to your training regimen?

It’s no secret that these can be a valuable addition to your exercise regimen, especially if you're seeking targeted neck strengthening. They provide a focused workout that can enhance neck strength, improve posture, and potentially reduce the risk of neck-related injuries.

That being said, they may fall short compared to alternative movements that are available when you use a machine like the Iron Neck - which is safer and more effective. Let’s explore.

Use Cases for the Neck Curl-Up

Whether you’re looking to correct forward head posture, stop carrying stress in shoulders and neck, or improve athletic performance - there’s a good chance you could benefit from the neck curl exercise. Here are a few of the most common use cases for the movement:

  • Athletes in Contact Sports: This exercise helps build the resilience of neck muscles, crucial for sports where impacts to the head and neck are frequent. They’re one the best neck stability exercises.
  • Office Workers: For those spending long hours at a desk, the movement can counterbalance the strain of prolonged sitting and screen time. This is why it’s among the best nerd neck exercises and tech neck exercises.
  • Post-Injury Rehabilitation: Under medical supervision, this exercise can aid in the recovery and strengthening of neck muscles post-injury.

Do Neck Curls Actually Work?

We’ve seen many individuals show skepticism regarding this exercise. Do neck curls actually work? Yes. When performed correctly and consistently, they are effective in strengthening the anterior neck muscles. 

They contribute to improved neck flexibility and movement, and studies in sports science and physical therapy support their effectiveness in enhancing neck muscle strength and functionality. 

However, they are just one piece of the puzzle when training neck. They should be combined with other movements for a well-rounded neck training regime.

That being said, is it safe to do neck curls?

Is it Safe to Do Neck Curls?

While beneficial, this exercise must be approached with caution. It can be safe when performed correctly. However, the technique can be challenging to master at first. 

The movement is a bit foreign to beginners and as we’ve said before, improper form can lead to injury - specifically, neck strain. 

There are safer movements that yield better results by targeting the neck muscles in a more focused manner. So, let’s get into a few of our favorite alternatives to the exercise.

A Few of Our Favorite Alternatives to Neck Curls

While the neck curl exercise is a popular choice for neck strengthening, there are several alternative exercises that offer equally effective results, often with lower risk. These alternatives focus not just on strength but also on flexibility, stability, and overall neck health.

But, to really make the most of these other movements, you need to invest in high-quality neck training equipment - such as the Iron Neck.

Introducing Iron Neck: The #1 Neck Trainer On the Market

The Iron Neck is not just any neck workout harness - it’s a groundbreaking solution for neck training. It offers unmatched benefits in recovery, prevention, posture, and mobility. 

This unique system addresses the root cause of neck pain and muscle imbalances by improving both range of motion and neck strength. It’s all possible through the state-of-the-art tension system that applies consistent resistance during head rotation, targeting every muscle in the neck. 

What separates Iron Neck from other equipment is the 360-degree neck training capability. This feature allows for comprehensive training, reaching even the smallest muscles that are often neglected. From the side neck muscles to the suboccipital muscles, you can hit them all with ease.

AirFit technology ensures a comfortable, custom fit for any head size, making your exercise routine not just effective but also enjoyable.

The best part? You can do your neck workouts at home! Just invest in some resistance bands and an attachment point if you don’t have a cable system. After you order your Iron Neck, you’ll be able to perform these movements below:

Alternative Movements With Iron Neck

    • Neck Rotation: Enhances flexibility and targets muscles and tendons in the neck. We have a complete guide on the neck rotation exercise because its so effective. 
  • Forward Neck Flexion: Simple yet effective for alleviating tension in the back of the neck.
    • Look Left, Look Right: Incorporating the Iron Neck adds resistance, building strength and improving neck mobility. In fact, it’s our favorite neck mobility exercise.
    • Locked Neck Body Turn: Improves overall mobility by distributing tension throughout the body, making it a great exercise for neck stability.
    • Chin Tuck: A simple exercise for neck strain, made more effective with the Iron Neck by providing additional support and alignment.
    • Thoracic Rotation: Activates shoulder and neck muscles, improved further with the Iron Neck for controlled, effective movement.

    You can learn more about how to train neck in our blog, and specifically, how to build neck muscles at home with the Iron Neck. We have resources on topics like turkey neck exercises, cervical vertigo exercises, exercises for neck fat, exercises for pinched nerve in neck, neck spasm exercises, exercises for neck arthritis, neck exercises for dizziness, and more.

    Parting Thoughts on the Neck Curl-Up Exercise

    While the neck curl exercise offers notable benefits in strengthening and increasing flexibility in neck muscles, it has limitations in terms of safety and the range of muscles worked. In fact, some individuals report neck pain after workouts that involve the neck curl-up. It’s not as seamless or safe as the other movements we shared above. 

    This is where the Iron Neck provides a superior alternative. With its comprehensive approach to neck training, the Iron Neck addresses the shortcomings of traditional neck curls by offering safer, more effective workouts that target a wider range of neck muscles.

    Ready to reap the benefits of neck training by investing in the Iron Neck? This intuitive device unlocks an array of superior movements that can help you reach your neck training goals faster.

    If you’re not satisfied with the differences it makes in your neck training before and after trying it, your order is protected by our 30-day returns policy!