T Nation

Packing in the Neck - Deadlift


I have been talking extensively with strength coach and PT Dr. Charlie Weingroff about the concept of "packing in the neck", especially in regards to aggressive hinging movements. (I have an interview with him on my site for those who want to know all the fancy nitty gritty scientificals behind this...)

I wanted to know if anyone here as experimented with this technique, and if so - how it feels to you and the results you have obtained.

I'll attach a video and briefly summarize why Charlie and I believe this to be an important technique for those who are unfamiliar with it

  1. "Packing in the neck" is actually a capital movement, not cervical - the primary purpose is to maintain neutrality of the upper lordotic curve - and avoid cervical extension.

  2. What happens in the c-spine typically will trickle down to the lumbar - therefore lifting with excessive amounts of cervical extension often results in hyperlordosis. Charlie and I believe this to be "less than optimal" due to the fact that when you operate in an overachred position, you are in a position of structural support (bony approximity - meaning your disks are now closer to gether). As Charlie stated when he first wrote about this - this bony approximity sends a signal to your brain saying "hey we got support from our bones down here, so we don't need as much inner core" - and this leads to the inhibition of your inner core stabilizers (TVA, multifidus, longissimus, diaphram, pelvic floor, pick your favorite...). In simpler terms, overarching/hyperlordosis means less core activation and "authentic stability".

  3. Cervical extension often puts the neck under load and inhibits your deep neck flexors (sternoclediomastoid, scalenes, etc ) - which are designed for quick changes in head position - not for bearing weighty loads. Hyperlordosis in C-spine may also leave the weight hanging off your C-4/C-5 region. Again, IMO, and Dr. Weingroffs, we believe this to be "less than optimal".

This has become quite a controversial topic for some - so I would love to gather some feedback from anyone who has tried it, and if you have not worked this technique and would like to start doing so, then I hope this thread will be able to help you. I have an extensive blog post on this topic as well.

Here is a video demonstrating what the form looks like - if you look closely, it almost looks like I have a mild amount of capital flexion and cervical retrusion - both of which may be decent clues for you to find this position.


Interesting post and video. Thanks for posting this.


I didn't get it quite right what do you mean by packing the neck, is it just maintaning the spine in neutral position by looking like at 45 angle?


we never called it "packing in the neck"... but yes

In our D.L. training with legend trainer Bill Busby we almost always trained with this method

If you can find some pics of Ernie Frantz back in the day you will see that he used this method also & If I recall his deadlift was over 800 @ 220

for the record we ALWAYS teach sprinting technique with this method.. its helped produce some freaky fast times, that should be old news to sprint training but you never know

here is a pic of an exercise we use to teach it


excerpt from this T-Nation article may help: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/the_first_sexy_posture_article

"I think we can safely credit physiotherapist Charlie Weingroff with popularizing the term "neck packing." If you want to know what packing the neck means, the process begins with getting tall.

People often make the mistake of tilting the head too far forward or too far backward. Instead, elevate the crown of your head as high as possible without decapitating yourself. From there, allow gravity to gently (gently!) pull your chin down. If you grab your sternocleidomastoid (the ropes of muscle tissue located at 10:00 and 2:00 on your neck), you shouldn't feel any tension as you bring your head into position. That's a job for the deep neck flexors, not the sternocleidomastoids."