Don't let a weak pencil neck be the reason you lose a fight you've been training for, or worse, be the reason you have to sit out of training for a few months with an injury. Instead, strengthen your neck & protect yourself in combat sports by reading this guide on the importance of neck exercises for boxing. Having a thick neck will decrease your likelihood of experiencing whiplash. This can result in a concussion, not only keeping you on the sidelines for an extended period of time but also increasing your risk of long-term brain damage.
Along with the risk of brain injury, whiplash also can result in some serious damage to your neck itself - contributing to pinched nerves, inflammation, and just general soreness and discomfort. Today, we're going to discuss the importance of neck exercises for boxers - or anyone involved in combat sports (or physical sports at all) for that matter. Then, we'll share a few of our favorite ways to train the neck for boxing and ensure you're not going to fall victim to heavy punch rattling your brain around in your head!
Why Are Neck Exercises So Important For Boxing?
There is no question that if you're going to get into boxing, you're going to eat some shots to the chin. If you've sparred before, this is something you already know. The repeated snapping back of your head is a surefire way to develop a concussion over time, or at the very least neck pain and inflammation. How do you prevent this?
With a thicker, sturdier neck, your head will be more supported and you won't feel the whiplash effect as much. You'll be able to take punches and fire back without missing a beat. Over time, you'll be protecting both your brain and your neck by strengthening it from the start. To prevent injury and enhance your performance when sparring or in the ring, let's take a look at what some of the best neck exercises for boxing are.
What Are Some Of The Best Neck Exercises For Boxing?
One of the biggest benefits of neck training for boxing is that it really doesn't take much time, energy, or equipment.
You won't find that your neck muscles need much time to recover from these exercises, and they won't interfere with other training you're doing in terms of recovery either.
When you search the internet looking for the top exercises for your neck, you'll find some pretty weird answers including handstands, neck planks, towel workouts, and more.
These aren't really worth your time and a lot of these really aren't even safe. We recommend you stick to the basics, the movements that are proven to be beneficial for combat sports and general athleticism alike. Before we share our favorite neck movements with you, we're going to talk about the type of equipment you need.
What Equipment Is Needed To Strengthen Your Neck For Boxing?
Proper neck training will require either a neck harness or a more sophisticated neck strengthening machine.
Sure, you can try and get by with just your bodyweight or using your hands on your head as resistance - but to really get a stronger neck, you need a more legitimate form of resistance - either weighted plates or resistance bands.
A neck harness will work in tandem with these and attaches around the back of your head. You then attach your weight or bands and can perform the movements we're going to share below. A neck harness is more than enough for more people, especially if you're on a budget. But if you want to take your neck training more seriously, we recommend the Iron Neck Strengthening Device. This is the #1 way to strengthen your neck muscles because it unlocks 360-degree training while.
Whether you're looking to rehab a neck injury or prevent one by strengthening your neck muscles, this one piece of equipment is all you need to build up a thick trunk of a neck. Now, without further ado - let's talk about the top neck strengthening exercises for boxing.
Start By Improving Posture & Stability Before Moving Onto More Complicated Exercises
First and foremost, you should build a stable neck with basic bracing exercises. These are as simple as attaching your Iron Neck training device, getting some resistance on it, and doing a 360-degree spin with your neck packed and sturdy - go incredibly slow, taking around 10-15 seconds to complete a rotation.
Then, you can progress from this into a look left, look right exercise. Start by stepping back from your anchor point and getting tension on your Iron Neck. Then, slowly look over your right shoulder, before returning to center and looking over your left shoulder. On these exercises, just a few sets of 5 are fine.
Move Onto Controlled Movement Patterns For Boxing
Once you have these two basic movements down, you can move onto controlled movement patterns that you'll run through in boxing, particularly while weaving and bracing - protraction and retraction.
Start by facing your anchor point and stepping back until you have some tension on the neck harness or Iron Neck. Then, allow your chin to come forward - creating a forward head posture. Bring your head back into alignment and tuck your chin - this is known as protraction. After that, you can turn around and face the other direction. You'll repeat the same exact movement, but now the resistance will increase as you push your head forward - training retraction. Both of these are crucial movement patterns for boxing.
You can get more sport-specific by doing a locked neck body turn movement, where you take an athletic stance with resistance on the harness. Pivot at the waist and rotate your torso without adjusting the alignment of your head, neck, chest, and torso. Keep your tempo slow and controlled until you get the hang of things, with just 5 or so rotations. This is a movement you'll definitely want to see done by a professional before trying it yourself, as are the final few exercises we're going to share with you today.
As You Get Stronger, Factor In Multi-Planar Neck Movements
Thus far, the neck movements we've covered do a great job of creating a stable, sturdy neck while increasing strength in the muscles in front and back of your neck - but what about the sides of your neck?
Diagonal movements will target these muscles. Step back from your anchor point, and tilt your head at a 45-degree angle. Trace a diagonal line, looking down at one shoulder all the way over the other shoulder. You'll want to perform the exercise facing away from the anchor point as well to round out the muscles your targeting. Then, you can try figure eights. This more complicated movement is one of the best when it comes to neck strengthening, but you should see it performed correctly before attempting it yourself.
And, we recommend trying it without any resistance before factoring in the neck harness or Iron Neck. However, the premise of this movement is simple - you'll want to start by looking down at your shoulder, similar to the diagonals. Here though, you'll connect your diagonals and trace a figure-eight shape across your view. This movement is as good as it gets for not just building strength, but increasing mobility, too.
From There, You Can Progress To More Complicated Neck Exercises
After you've mastered the fundamentals, the sky is the limit with neck training. Our exercise library has all kinds of movements you can incorporate in your training to get a stronger, thicker neck. From the reverse nordic to cervical glides, and even basic movements with resistance at the neck factored in like thoracic rotation - try them all!
Final Thoughts On Neck Training Exercises For Boxing
Now, you know the importance of neck training exercises for boxing and you know exactly which ones you should get started with.
In closing, we just want to iterate the importance of dialing in your form with these movements before adding weight. Practice in the mirror with just the weight of your head, and then factor in the neck harness or Iron Neck strengthening device.
Here at Iron Neck, we even have a ton of video resources to help walk you through all the movements we discussed above - we encourage you to check it out if you don't feel confident in your technique. Grab your equipment today and start practicing these foundation movements, and you'll find that before you know it your neck is thicker and stronger than ever before, helping you in the ring.
You'll not only be able to absorb strikes better, and weave in and out of danger - you'll be protecting both your neck and your brain to ensure you don't get sidelined with injury.