Building a Big Neck

Hi Dr. Darden,

What are your recommendations for building a big neck?

Many, many thanks

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Looking forward to the Dr. Darden’s response

especially for individuals who do not have access to neck machines

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It’s helpful to have some type of 4-way neck machine. If not, a neck harness would work fairly well.

When I was 17, I found a football helmet and had a bar made for the top, which could be screwed to the top of the helmet. Doing so allowed me to wear the helmet and place a couple of small weight plates on the top to supply progressive resistance in exercising the neck in four directions.

A thorough search on the Internet will probably lead to some neck helmet photos.


i was hoping to hear the football helmet story. I remember reading years ago about your pursuit of a larger neck, probably on tnation but could have been elsewhere.

I have gotten good results from Josh Bryant using head nods, the tall man, neck bridges, and a harness. I rotate them in and out a few weeks at a time, and have built size, strength, and stamina in my neck over the last year or so.

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Thanks for the response.

Don’t think I’ve ever seen a neck machine in a gym. Probably because building a big neck isn’t really a part of modern bodybuilding culture. Strange really given that having a strong neck makes for an impressive look.

The helmet seems a good idea in terms of functionality, think I’ll get a neck harness and have to make to do with that for now though.

Of course, usual principles apply I presume, slow controlled reps etc?

You can get a ton of great neck work done by leaning against a physio ball pressed up against a wall. See example below….


22 inch neck

1 set of heavy resistance bands after a warmup


Maximum of 1 set every 2 weeks

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Another great perspective from a tnation coach


Solid recommendations.

Big fan of Wendler’s no nonsense approach. This is very useful.


Rogers Athletics is a very fine source of knowledge on neck strength and conditioning

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I’m surprise the good Doctor did not also say to pick the right set of parents…

Interestingly, Ken Hutchins has a recent interview where he advised neck extension and neck flexion while incorporating timed static contraction only.

Even with severe neck pain, I can still manage to do heavy statics with resistance bands performing flexion/extension.

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I don’t think that is a new position for him. I think he has had concerns about the use of full range of motion neck machines for a long time.

I believe that to be correct, however as in the past, Hutchins and now Baye’s advice is so wordy and needlessly complicated as to be a complete turnoff.

How can someone be so uninformed on cardiovascular conditioning, and be very good at static conditioning?

I have a strong neck but a weak chin lol. So no matter how much neck work I do my neck never looks larger. I’m a BJJ instructor though so having a strong next can’t be anything but an asset.

My neck grew quite a bit from just general training. Rather well actually.

I can appreciate some direct training to keep it optimally strong. I focus on more direct training these days as I approach 50. Just looking at it more from a PT point of view…targeting lower back, abs, rotator cuff, etc. I still do compounds - usually focused with a compound leg, chest (although doing flies lately), and back. Single joint on the rest of the body.

Rogers Athletic has articles on training the jaw muscles

To have a big neck, requires big trap muscles.

Here is a great trap article

I use a single DB for a static shrug. I tilt my head for full contraction. This movement also forces the spine to stabilize the core while holding the DB in a isometric position. Rumor has it that a sitting position illicits more fibers than a standing position

Oh man, we talking traps now?


I was seriously about to tag you and reference this book lol

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