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Strength Training For Your Neck
Author : Suraj Ray Ask your average Gym Rat about his favourite body part – the one for which he would like to see the most gains – and you’re likely to get the typical answers: Biceps, Quads, Calves, Chest. But almost no one talks about making neck gains! That’s probably because most of us don’t know that it is possible to exercise the neck and make it stronger and muscular. Before understanding how we can make them neck gains, let’s understand the basics. Neck Anatomy The neck is a bridge, a connector and a balancer. It supports the structures of many systems and channelizes the signals necessary for all body functions. That’s why neck strength is always desired and its beauty is always appreciated. Deconstructing The Human Neck Cervical Vertibrae : Top 7 vertebrae of our spine labeled C1 to C7 Muscle Structure: Sternocleidomastoid, Omohyoid, Splenius Cervicis, Splenius Capitis, Thyrohyiod, Obliquus Capitis Superior, Scalene, Sternothyroid and Levator Scapulae Function of The Neck Unlike any other muscle group, the muscles in the neck are in a constant state of tension. This enables the neck to support the head and keep it raised up. As the centre of gravity of the head is not aligned with the neck line, the neck muscles need to be constantly extended to keep the head in position. A weak neck can cause cervical spondylosis, chronic neck pain and other issues related to respiration and fatigue which may appear with gradual aging. Significance in Sports A strong neck is essential in close combat sports such as wrestling, boxing, rugby and other sports that carry a high risk of head trauma. A thick and strong neck can help prevent injury. A thin and weak neck will always be a reason for neck and shoulder pain since the weak muscles would be unable to adequately support the weight of the head. And yet, most people often neglect training the neck. While some don’t consider the neck to be essential to physical aesthetics, others believe that simply training the shoulders and doing other compound movements will sufficiently train the neck as well. But that is not the case. A thick neck not only helps give a muscular appearance but also helps enhance upper body strength. Specific exercises involving neck extension, flexion and rotation can be performed in order to strengthen and increase the muscle mass in the neck. How to Train the Neck Here are a few ways to train the neck and strengthen it: With Equipment: Head Harness : Use this to perform neck movements such as extension, flexion and lateral flexion Neck Extension and Flexion using Plates/Dumbbells: Be cautious while placing the weight on your forehead. Use your hands for support. Ensure that the tension is felt on the neck and not on your hands. Machine Neck Flexion and Extension Important: As with any other form of resistance training, progressive overload is the key to progress. However, given how sensitive neck muscles are, a heavy load is not advisable as there is a high probability of injury. Instead, use a modest amount of weight and gradually increase volume by increasing reps and sets. Without Equipment: If no equipment is available, then partner-assisted Neck Curls and Neck Bridges can be done for building neck strength and making hypertrophic gains.Caution: For neck bridges, be very careful while performing the exercise as it is a very unusual movement. Error in form may lead to neck injury.A few sessions of neck training per week can vastly improve strength. It’s not essential to train till failure as the neck is a small muscle group. Training till failure may cause excess fatigue and impair head movement. Benefits of Neck Training Increased neck stability Enhanced strength of cervical muscles Reduced fatigue as the neck supports the head and various systems better Alleviation of neck and shoulder pain in elderly people and people with desk jobs Whether you are bodybuilding for aesthetics or training for combat sports, having a strong neck will both improve your appearance and ensure the safety of neuromuscular functions. With growing age, it becomes essential to strengthen the neck muscles in order to get relief from neck fatigue and pain due to muscle degeneration. So, let’s make some neck gains.