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6 Moves for a Stronger Neck

Prevent injuries and boost your workouts with this innovative neck training routine.
Training exercises for neck strength

A sturdy neck isn’t just for linebackers and wrestlers. Poor posture, awkward sleeping positions, and age-related stiffness can lead to muscle imbalances and stiffness in anyone’s neck and shoulders, which may cause pain or headaches. Desk dwellers are especially vulnerable to neck and shoulder issues because their neck muscles are often strained from leaning forward and looking at a computer screen.

Building a strong neck will not only prevent future pain, it may also reduce the chance of serious concussion by spreading out the damaging forces sometimes generated when you take a shot to the noggin, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. That’s because your neck serves as the shock absorber between your body and head.

“Strong neck muscles allow you to reduce the acceleration forces your brain receives,” says Lt. Col. Patrick Houlahan, U.S. Marine fighter pilot and founder of An example of how crucial neck training can be: at supersonic speeds, a fighter pilot’s neck may have to support a head that weighs as much as 140 pounds due to high-gravity forces. 

Barbell deadlifts are great trap and upper-back builders since they recruit the muscles of the entire body and increase the release of natural anabolic hormones, like testosterone. However, to eliminate skinny-neck syndrome and protect against injury you’ll need to add some direct work to target the muscles. Build functional strength, prevent injury, and improve posture to get the most out of training (and life) with this six-move neck workout.

Do Workout “A” and Workout “B” once a week as part of your regular training plan. You’ll focus on neck extension and flexion on one day and neck lateral flexion and rotation in the other. You’ll also do a little static work for good measure. Do 1A and 1B without a break. That’s one set. Rest 45 seconds between sets. To avoid injury, don’t do extreme ranges of motion and sloppy reps. Allow 48 hours recovery time between workouts.


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