When you hit the weight room, you don’t often think about training your neck muscles. But not only is it necessary to have a strong neck to support your head and protect your spine, it just all around looks better than the alternative. Have you ever seen someone who has such a skinny neck that you wonder how it could possibly support their head? Yeah, not an appealing look.
Now that’s not to say that you should endeavor to build a thick neck to the point that you can’t even button the top button on your shirt, but at the least, it should be an area that you should strengthen – both for function and aesthetics.
How to Work Out Your Neck
For a little background, the neck is made up of a group of muscles called the trapezius, semispinalis, longissimus, splenius capitis, and sternocleidomastoid. Yeah, that’s a mouthful. Put simply, these work in tandem to operate your neck in all movements – flexion, rotation, extension, and bending from side to side. Your neck can move in so many directions, which is why it is important to strengthen each of the muscles in this group for better functioning.
Below are a number of exercises that you can add to your workout routine to really build those neck muscles. Before beginning any resistance training with your neck, loosen up the muscles a bit. Roll your head around, put your ear to one shoulder and then do the same on the opposite, put your head to your chin, and lean your head all the way back. Spend about 5 minutes doing this, pausing in each position for 10-15 seconds.
Lying Neck Flexion
Lay on your back on a weight bench with your knees bent, and hang your head and neck off the edge of the bench. Take a light weight (this will differ from person to person) and place it on top of a towel on your forehead. Hold the weight with both hands to steady it. Lean your head as far back as you comfortably can, then raise your head so that your chin reaches your chest. This will work the front and back neck muscles.
Lateral Neck Flexion
This is similar to the exercise above but will work the side muscles of your neck. Again, lay on a bench, but this time lay on your side instead of on your back. Hang your head off the edge of the bench and place a small weight (with a towel underneath) on the side of your head. Just the same, bend your head downwards to the floor and then tilt it sideways back up again.
For both of these exercises, make sure to not use too much weight. You can strain your neck very easily. Try to do 1 set of 15 reps if you’re a beginner to avoid injury. Focus on doing the exercises slow and deliberately. Do not do them in a hurried or jerky fashion.
This is one I touched on in the my post about building your trap muscles, so of course, it fits in here too. While standing, hold a dumbbell in each hand and, just like the name implies, shrug your shoulders upwards. This will really burn the trapezius muscles, the ones that connect your neck and shoulders.
If you really want to pack on muscle, exercise alone won’t get the job done. You need to be following a proper diet and adding supplementation for the nutrients your muscles crave. A couple of supplements that have been working incredibly well for me can be found below: