View Full Version : neck strengthening

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Fred L
09-02-2006, 05:54 AM
I tried doing a search for this. If this has been asked before, please just point me in the right direction...

How can I safely strengthen my neck without using equipment? Other than Nautilus, I've always had a thin neck, and would like to strengthen it in order to decrease the chance of injury.

(My neck is approximately twice the width of this line: ----- , so I think that I have reason for concern ;) )

Any advice would be appreciated.

Have a good weekend. :p


09-02-2006, 06:57 AM
Hello Fred,

In high school wrestling we used to do neck bridges to strength our necks. If you could find a person with wrestling experience they can show you how.

Fred L
09-02-2006, 07:04 AM
i used to do them in wrestiling in high school. for some reason, I thought that they had fallen out of favor and were now considered to be bad for your spine...


09-02-2006, 07:09 AM
lots of things seem to fall in and out of favour these days training food to name just two, when i first started matial arts twenty plus years ago it was totaly different to whats on offer now, i surpose the question could be is what on offer now better than what was on offer then ?

sorry this seems off the original topic a bit just a random burst from me

Mark Freeman
09-02-2006, 07:24 AM
Hi Fred,
Is there any evidence that shows that neck injury is directly proportional to either width or strength?
I think sometimes that just tying to strengthen something, can lead to injury that otherwise would not happen. Have you had a history of neck problems before?

just a thought,



Kevin Wilbanks
09-02-2006, 12:13 PM
I messed around with neck bridges and investigated them a while back. I came to the conclusion that I thought the standard wrestler's neck bridges weren't a good training risk. However, I think a less extreme version is fine. In a standard bridge, one is supposed to arch back really far and roll all the way onto the top of the head or even to the forehead. I think the cervical spine is way too extended in this, considering the load and lack of stability. Wrestlers may be forced to train this way because they do this movement during actual wrestling, but for someone who won't be in this position in sport or life, I don't think it's worth the risk.

A safer way to do them is to keep the head, neck and shoulders in a neutral position, as when you are standing, and not roll the head back. It is still a lot of resistance for the neck muscles to contend with. They also make head straps that you can hang weight plates from, which would allow you to strengthen the neck from multiple angles. So long as you don't use extreme, low-rep loads, it's probably a safe enough way to work the neck - much better than a machine. Machines with fixed movement paths are rarely a good form of exercise, in my view.

For the most part, I'm with Mark. Unless you've had problems, I wouldn't worry about it too much. I think most piddly little exercises for neck, wrists and calves are mostly a waste of time. If you really want to beef up your neck, beef up your whole body with big exercises like squats, pullups, and dips in an exercise and eating program designed to increase overall body mass. Big exercises and the right food will stimulate anabolic processes that will make all your muscles bigger and stronger.

09-02-2006, 03:04 PM
It is still a lot of resistance for the neck muscles to contend with.
Another option to get less resistance might be to do them against a wall rather than flat on the floor.* Feet further from the wall for more weight, closer for less. I'm sure there are some interesting variations to be played with by changing body position. For comfort, you could stick a bit of carrymat on the wall. (I don't suppose they're called 'carrymats' in US english, I mean a closed cell foam camping matress.)

Something that worked very well for me a few years ago - you could get a large powerful motorcycle with high bars and a very upright posture, and then habitually ride it too fast on long journeys. :)


Fred L
09-02-2006, 05:46 PM
Those all sound like good suggestions. I 'm not really interested in bulking up, but I have noticed that my son's judo sensei has developed a lot of neck strength over the years, and that does seem to help him keep his neck in a neutral position during matwork. Maybe we don't need it that much in aikido...

thanks again


09-02-2006, 06:03 PM
Check Aikido Journal - there was an article a while back on this I think.

Kevin Wilbanks
09-02-2006, 06:20 PM
Frankly, I think the main thing you can do to protect your neck in Aikido is to never do backward rolls... and of course, never land on your head.

09-02-2006, 06:28 PM
I know you said no equipmenet, but I've found a peice of tubbing (you can get at most sporting goods) tied to a block behind a door or tied to a pole, then placed on your forhead can give you a good neck workout. You can just do neck raises and side to side with resistance and really work out your neck. The same bands can be good for practicing uchikomi by yourself if you are a judo guy.

Fred L
09-03-2006, 07:14 AM
Yeah, I've seen them use the tubing for fit-ins. That would seem to be very safe since there is no weight involved.