T Nation

Working The Neck

Hey guys, sorry if this topic may have been covered before, but my ‘search’ function ain’t working, so here goes:

Do any of you train your necks, and if so, what is the best way of doing it that brings more results and increases thickness?

I’ve seen a lot of guys that look stupid with big upper bodies and scrawny necks, and I don’t want to be one of them. The neck is an important body part, but also I feel that it is dangerous to work because all the important cervical vertebrae are there, which is the link between head and body. It can easily be injured if trained incorrectly. Right now I’m in a world of pain due to a neck and trapezius injury which tends to recur a lot, and it’s causing throbbing headaches as well. I feel that my neck is my weakest link, but I still want to train, thicken and strengthen it. It supposedly builds up fast, but mine doesn’t seem to build fast at all.

So what’s your advice on the neck? I don’t have access to a nautilus 4-way machine (none of the gyms in my whole city have one), I find a head harness awkward and painful to use, and using the hands for isometric exercises feel weird and I’m not sure if they work.

i’ve put on about 30 pounds in the last 2 years. i’m still skinny but my shirt size has gone from 15 to 16 1/2 i’m ready to go up to 17. and a couple weeks ago i was at a party and a girl i hadn’t seen in a while came up to me, stroked my neck and purred “your neck is getting so nice and thick…”

i don’t train my neck. all i really do are squats , dl’s, pullups, dips, power cleans and snatches and ghr’s.

Good question…I’ve been having similar problems with my neck/trap area.

Waterbury has a cool neck exercise in his Hammer Down: Strength article, but unfortunately, my gym doesn’t have those type of bands…nor do they have a 4-way neck machine.

Doing deadlifts and shrugs help.

I think neck bridges would be a good exercise and I’m going to start using those and will see what results I get.

Neck Training Article
www.mmaringreport.com/columns/lee_4_neck.htm

Harness for $10
www.ambersports.com/wns.htm

The Yoke.

http://elitefts.com/documents/the_yoke.htm

Hey I am a wrestler and thus love neck work…i have gone from a 15- 15 1/2 to 17 in the past yr and a half and want to get even bigger
i like the following series/circuit:
while lying on your back in a “crunch” position (although your legs can be flat, doesnt matter)
10 neck crunches (chin to chest chin to ground)
10 touching your ear to the ground (ie 90 degree rotation to the left and right) go left, center, right, center is 1 rep
10 neck crunches
10 ear to shoulder touches (left, center, right center)
10 neck crunches
20 head circles left 20 head circles right done at a rapid pace
10 neck crunches
the kicker is YOUR NECK NEVER RESTS ON THE GROUND
the constant tension on your neck will kill you for sure
Other ideas: do similar exercises “Yes’s and No’s” while lying facedown on a bench, perhaps with a plate on head for added resistance
Go to the Hip Extension Machine and use it as a 4-way neck; face faces the lever, face under the lever, left ear on lever, right ear on lever (my favourite, people see this and they think your nuts)
and if you know how to…lots of bridging

[quote]4est wrote:
The Yoke.

http://elitefts.com/documents/the_yoke.htm[/quote]

EXCELLENT article.

Used to do neck harness work for football. Not really sure if it did anything, though. It might have made my neck stronger but I didn’t notice any size from it. Trap work has made my neck bigger than anything else. Power shrugs, DB shrugs, and deadlifting.

Yo fellas, thanks for all the awesome input and advice. I’ve found it really useful and will try to incorporate all of your ideas into my workout.

I particularly liked this one:

[quote]
Go to the Hip Extension Machine and use it as a 4-way neck; face faces the lever, face under the lever, left ear on lever, right ear on lever (my favourite, people see this and they think your nuts)
and if you know how to…lots of bridging[/quote]

LOL. People at my gym will think I’m an absolute maniac if they see me doing that with the Leg Extension! It sounds like it could be effective although it’d be embarrassing to do. I already got lots of stares and curious questions when I brought my neck harness in a couple of times and started using it. Now I try to do all my neck training in the privacy of my own home.

Dang it, I wish I knew about that site with the $10 neck harness earlier! I paid $50 for mine.

[quote]Donut62 wrote:
Used to do neck harness work for football. Not really sure if it did anything, though. It might have made my neck stronger but I didn’t notice any size from it. Trap work has made my neck bigger than anything else. Power shrugs, DB shrugs, and deadlifting.[/quote]

I agree with this. Nothing has added size to my neck like heavy shrugs.

I bought a book called TNT - Total Neck & Traps and it looks like it has plenty of info there for adding size and strength to the neck.

I actually tried using the leg extension as a 4-way machine last night and it worked! Except I couldn’t do it in the forward ‘nodding’ motion with face towards the lever, due to the awkward decline angle the bench is on with those machines in my gym.

So I used the Nautilus ‘Ab Blaster’ machine instead, for the “yes” motion (forward neck curls). Wrapping a towel around the top handles, tieing a knot in the middle, and holding the knot with my hands. The knot goes over my forehead, and then I start the neck curls. Works a charm!

I heard the nautilus 4-way neck machine is great, but I never had the chance to use it.

Short of having this piece of equipment and not wanting to invest in weird gadgets I recommend:

i) neck flexion off a bench with a plate on your forehead (and secured with your hands). Keep your chin tucked at all times. This somewhat limits your range of motion, but I feel it saves your neck from being in on overextended position. 12-25 reps per set

ii) neck extension off a bench. Again, keep your chin tucked at all times. 12-25 reps per set

iii) Laying on your side you can put a plate on the side of your face and hold it for time (too hard to do reps in this position)

iv) You can do the exercises i) and ii) in an isometric fashion.

Of course this is assuming you already work your traps with shrugs and rack pulls (dead lifts and high pulls if you’re into that kind of stuff - I’m not)

Oh, some swear by neck bridges, but they never felt right to me.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Donut62 wrote:
Used to do neck harness work for football. Not really sure if it did anything, though. It might have made my neck stronger but I didn’t notice any size from it. Trap work has made my neck bigger than anything else. Power shrugs, DB shrugs, and deadlifting.

I agree with this. Nothing has added size to my neck like heavy shrugs. [/quote]

I second El Senor Equis. <-- Ooh gonna need a dictionary for that one. That and rack pulls.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Donut62 wrote:
Used to do neck harness work for football. Not really sure if it did anything, though. It might have made my neck stronger but I didn’t notice any size from it. Trap work has made my neck bigger than anything else. Power shrugs, DB shrugs, and deadlifting.

I agree with this. Nothing has added size to my neck like heavy shrugs. [/quote]

What neck?

heh heh.

Gain weight.

MedX neck machine > *

Play chicken. You know, that game in the pool where you put (usually) a female on your shoulders and (another guy does the same) the girls basically grab and pull at each other until one falls over. Your neck will be sore the next day like nothing else. And if you’re lucky, one of their tops will be ripped off. Win-Win.

my neck is about 17.5", and all I do to make it grow are rows, shrugs, bench (i usually drive my head into the bench), deadlifts, squats, and military press (always a sore neck after these). It may be just me but i almost always tense up my neck when lifting, so the growth probably stems from that.