By Lee Hayward
When training the neck, it is extremely important to follow good form. Carelessness with neck exercises can be much worse than with other exercises. Use smooth controlled motion at all times, don't jerk or bounce at all.
Before you begin any resistance exercise for the neck always warm up first. Move your neck forward and backward, side to side, and turn your head from left to right. Do 20-30 reps of each movement to warm up.
Place the heel of your hand(s) on your forehead. Apply pressure with your hands, and resist with your neck. You can adjust the pressure according to your own strength. Press as hard as you can, as long as you are able to keep your neck still against the resistance.
A more advanced version of this movement is to allow your neck to successfully move back and forth against the resistance, while keeping the resistance as high as possible. You can use this method for training the front, back, and both sides of your neck.
You can also lean against a wall with your head, varying the angle to choose the correct resistance. Use a small pillow to make the exercise more comfortable.
This is a good basic neck exercise. The harness is best used for the back and the front of the neck. The harness is a webbing or leather cap that fits snugly on your head, and has a chain on each side hanging down from the ear region. You load weight plates on the chains, and then move your head against the resistance created. For this exercise it is a good idea to use lighter weights and higher reps (i.e. 15+ per set).
You stand with hands on knees to work the back of the neck. Look at the floor with the weights hanging in front of you. By flexing your neck, you raise your head to look forward, and then slowly lower your head to complete the rep.
To work the front of the neck you can lye down on a bench with your head and neck out over the end of the bench. Have a training partner spot you and help you get the harness and weights in place. Flex your neck forward and try to touch your chin to your chest and slowly lower your head to complete the rep. You can also hold a weight plate against your forehead and perform this movement.
This exercise is excellent for working the traps and the neck muscles. It also works the forearms from gripping the weights.
Grip a barbell shoulder width apart. Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the barbell at arms length in front of you.
Keep your arms straight during the entire movement. Sag your shoulders downward as far as you can. You will feel your traps stretch, hold this position for a second. Shrug your shoulders upward and squeeze your traps at the top. Hold this position for a second. Repeat.
For variety you can do this exercise from a low cable pulley or use a pair of dumbbells instead of a barbell.
This is a good exercise for working the muscles of your shoulder girdle. Primary muscles are the traps, neck, and the deltoids. Secondary muscles are the biceps, brachialis, and the forearms.
Grip a barbell a little narrower then shoulder width. Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the barbell at arms length in front of you.
Keep your elbows above your hands at all times. Pull the barbell directly up from the starting position until the bar is just below your chin. Hold this position for a second to maximize the peak contraction, then slowly lower to the starting position. Repeat.
This exercise can also be performed using a low cable pulley.
Neck bridge (wrestlers bridge)
This is a controversial exercise that is highly productive when safely performed, yet can be very dangerous if not performed correctly. This is a very advanced exercise. You need to have very strong neck muscles just to be able to perform this movement.
This exercise should only be used by advanced athletes who need very strong neck muscles; such as boxers, wrestlers, martial artists, etc. You should get proper instruction from a knowledgeable coach prior to trying to perform a neck bridge.
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