PDA

View Full Version : Strengthen Your Neck



Gabriel Suarez
12-15-2005, 07:37 AM
Many of us spend considerable time training and conditioning. As we know, conditioning...being in shape...counts for a great deal of your performance in the fight.

One area often neglected is to strengthen the neck. Why is this important? The neck is the connection point between the computer and all its peripherals. If the neck is broken or otherwise injured, you are done.

Notice the pro footbal players necks? Their necks are stronger and thicker than the average. Why? because they understand the tremedous forces that the neck is exposed to in body to body collisions common in the sport.

For us combat students, consider that it may make you more difficult to knock out if your neck is strong. Similarly it may make you more difficult to choke out. Think of your neck muscles not only as armor, but also as shcok absorbers in combat.

Even beyond this, specially for those of us who are creeping toward (or past) the half century mark, ever notice how some older folk are always complaining of neck pain and have all manner of neck trouble. I suspect this may be a result of poor conditioning of the area.

So how do we strengthen it?

Look at this in levels. Don't jump into a back bridge with your kids sitting on you if you have never done any neck exercises.

Level 1:

a). Lay on your back on an exercise bench with your head out over the end. Now curl your chin all the way up to your chest and back. Think of a neck sit up. Start with ten reps and build up.

b). Do the same thing but beginning on your belly and curling backwards.

Level 2:

a). Lay on your back, feet in close to your butt. Without using your hands, arch your back so you are supported by your feet and head. This is the classic bridge. Work up to ten reps of ten seconds.

b). Same as above but from the front.

Additional suggestions. You can supplement neck development with development of your trapezius. This can be done with shrugs using relatively heavy weight. On the bridge drills - I gave a fairly simple set of reps. You can work up to any level you wish, but that may be a good place to start.

Guantes
12-15-2005, 07:56 AM
Wise words.

Cold War Scout
12-15-2005, 08:29 AM
Level 1:

a). Lay on your back on an exercise bench with your head out over the end. Now curl your chin all the way up to your chest and back. Think of a neck sit up. Start with ten reps and build up.

b). Do the same thing but beginning on your belly and curling backwards.

Level 2:

a). Lay on your back, feet in close to your butt. Without using your hands, arch your back so you are supported by your feet and head. This is the classic bridge. Work up to ten reps of ten seconds.

b). Same as above but from the front.

Level 1 is part of my regular workout program. With a dumbbell. Level 1 can be enhanced by doing both sides as well.

Level 2 is something I play with from time to time.

michael
12-15-2005, 10:08 AM
I don't regularly train neck, but have no problem holding bridges from front or back, which I do occiasonally. I do lots of pull-ups and deadlifts, so this probably gives me some amount of conditioning for the neck. It is very important to have a strong neck, and I agree in keeping it strong.

Manwell
12-15-2005, 11:55 AM
I exercise and workout with weights very often. I must admit that while I stretch my neck on a daily bases, it’s been quite some time that I actually worked it specifically, let alone with any resistance. Really need to add it into the mix a day or two each week. I spend a considerable time on traps, shoulders, back, arms, etc.

Thanks for the reminder,

Manwell

John McKean
12-15-2005, 05:04 PM
Perhaps the best training for pure neck strength is a lift we do in IAWA all-Round weightlifting competition.Obviously called the "neck lift", it employs a VERY sturdy harness placed on the head,attached to a chain which is attached to a ring on thick barbell(which rests in deadlift position in front of the lifter).Trained in low reps with very heavy weight(which one obviously builds up to as in any standard progressive resistance training),it is essentially a locked neck "hold" or isometric,with the legs doing the actual lifting,but everyone who has concentrated on this lift has immense neck power( not merely a thick or highly muscled neck which can be easily "pumped up"Thru high rep training to obtain this LOOK without necessarily yielding peak strength).For reference sake, A friend did the highest all time neck lift at a meet this past August with an 804# attempt,while weighing 235;at the same meet this old man(I turned 60 today!)got an age group world record neck lift of 475# at 169# bwt..A good winter project for home training!

Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
12-15-2005, 09:47 PM
All: A hearty concurrence on the importance of this subject!

John: Do you know of a picture of the neck lift you describe?

All: I would add that susceptibility to neck problems often begins in the hips. If the hip flexors are tight/short so that they tilt the hips forward, it usually works out that the shoulders round forward which pitches the head forward i.e. the neck is not lined up. This can easily be spotted from the side by observing the subject standing erect. If misaligned, the ears will not be above the shoulders as they should be-- instead they will be in front of the shoulders. I advise great caution in working the neck hard if your posture is not lined up.

Kettlebelly
12-15-2005, 11:56 PM
At an Army medical detatchment in the late '80's, I worked with a Physician's Assistant named Jim Denson. He was in his early '50's at the time, and often played basketball with the younger troops after work. He routinely outplayed them, too (including out-running them).

I asked him about his conditioning. Turned out that he used to play with the old Cleveland Browns football team, and he figured the training they went through as professional athletes was mostly why he was still in remarkable shape. Of course, he had pretty good a genetic head-start on most folks, too. :D

One thing he said they ephasized for the player's safety was neck rotations. He asked if I ever wondered why so many football player's necks are as wide as their heads? He said his hadn't started out that way, but the inverted neck-rotations had developed his neck muscles.

He said that they started out on their hands and knees, with the top of the head touching the ground. Then they'd do neck rotations, while gradually bending the elbows and taking a greater portion of the weight on their necks. Eventually, they'd progress to the point that they weren't supporting their head with their hands at all, and were up on their toes (instead of their knees) in a "Y" stance. I hadn't thought about it until Jim told me this, but I'd seen the Jets and Chiefs doing this during warm-up before a game back in the '70's. Hmm...

He claimed that it really limbered their necks before practice or a game, and increased their confidence in their injury-resistance. I don't know if it's still done that way in professional circles, but if approached with care, it seems like it should work.

John McKean
12-16-2005, 06:03 AM
Marc,I couldn't locate a photo of the neck lift which we do in All-Round competitions,but you could locate a description in the rules section (under special equipment lifts) at the www. USAWA.com site. I believe in our nat'l org's official rulebook,one is pictured. Or,better yet, a contact with international president Steve Gardner at the IAWA (uk) site could maybe yield a photo from their archives.

Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
12-16-2005, 07:31 AM
Thank you John.

mndoc
12-16-2005, 10:23 AM
From a rehab standpoint, it is best to have functional strength in an active range of motion. This is done very simply with the neck by utilizing a training partner or resistance that can provide resistance through the range of motion in all 3 planes of motion, ie flexion/extension, lateral rotation and lateral flexion. With a partner this is easily accomplished by having one partner on all fours while the other provides dynamic resistance as the first person moves their neck through all the ranges of motion individually, taking about a 10-15 count for each direction. You will see this a lot in football team warmups as well as wrestling. It will build excellent functional strength in the neck and safely as well.

csjavi
12-16-2005, 02:31 PM
Moral of the story, work out your neck, but don't play football.
My neck is fine. The knees on the other hand...

You don't need a partner for neck flexion, extension and rotation. Just wrap a towel around your head and pull in the right direction with your hands. It gives total control of direction, force, static / dynamic etc.

Manwell
12-16-2005, 03:36 PM
My neck is fine. The knees on the other hand...

You don't need a partner for neck flexion, extension and rotation. Just wrap a towel around your head and pull in the right direction with your hands. It gives total control of direction, force, static / dynamic etc.

I really like the towel tip... this is what I'll do, as I typically workout alone.

Manwell

mndoc
12-17-2005, 06:07 AM
We did it a little differently in college. Wearing a helmet helps. Also had a nautilus machine set up for neck work.

Isometric resistance was achieved by simply leaning approx ten to fifteen degrees while a teamate pushed against your head (helmet). This was done on four axies- left, right, front and rear. The face mask was held by the player to help put the resistence on the neck while in the aft position. A ten count was all we did, but we did two trips around the axis. It also helps to find a teamate you trust (or go second).

All I know is that despite lots of attention to neck strengty, my upper spine is still hammered, with a bulging disk and bone spurs. Moral of the story, work out your neck, but don't play football.

Speedy
the drawback to isometrics is that they only create effective strength gains within 10-15 degrees of where the resistance is placed, not the full range of motion. Using a towel is a great idea, you can use your hands to resist the motion as well, but is should incorporate movement through the entire range of motion for best results, assuming a healthy cervical spine that allows it.

Cold War Scout
12-17-2005, 06:09 AM
I have seen this type of harness used many times:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/2002/seatedheadharness1s.jpg (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/2002/seatedheadharness1.jpg)

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/2002/standingheadharness2s.jpg (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/2002/standingheadharness2.jpg)

John McKean
12-17-2005, 07:26 AM
The towel exercise for the neck is good,but a guy who has done it a little better is Coach Dick Hartzell ,the inventor of "flex bands" and director of the famous Jumpstretch Gym in youngstown ,Ohio. Dick has demo'd to many pro ,college, and high school teams how to do similar neck rolling exercises with his heavy "rubber bands",which adds more movement and power building stress to the area.Contact Dick at www.jumpstretch.com (http://www.jumpstretch.com) or look thru his website ;the neck work may be illustrated there.By the way, these band neck exercises are tremendous as a warmup before any martial arts workout!

Manwell
12-17-2005, 08:50 AM
I used the “towel method” in this morning’s workout and it seemed pretty effective. I liked the control I had over actual resistance and tried to do full range of motion. Will probably stick with this method for several weeks and make a decision from that point determining actual effectiveness. Guess I’m pretty paranoid about hurting my neck while trying to strengthen it.

Manwell

Cold War Scout
12-20-2005, 05:18 PM
Don't forget simple shoulder shrugs.

Chicago
12-20-2005, 06:07 PM
Is the harness shown in the previous post an effective and safe tool for developing neck strength?

Cold War Scout
12-20-2005, 06:22 PM
Is the harness shown in the previous post an effective and safe tool for developing neck strength?

I think it has been sort of the standard in "animal gyms" for a long, long time. I would probably start off light and work my way up.

HSLD
12-20-2005, 11:14 PM
In addition or as supplement/variant to the neck exercize Mr McKean presented (the neck lift) is an exercise used by Muai Tai fighters to strengthen their neck and jaw (also crucial to sustaining blows to the head is a strong jaw) areas. This exercise may be more accessable to the majority of us without the fancy head harness. A weight is placed on a loop of aprox. 1/2 dia. rope and lifted with the same motion but with the rope clenched between the teeth. Hope this can be of some use.

Marcus

John McKean
12-21-2005, 12:42 PM
HSLD. In all-round weightlifting we 've named this event the "teeth Lift"-it is contested,usually just for record purposes,and uses a leather mouth piece(owned by each INDIVIDUAL!!).As you pointed out,this strongly effects the neck-it offers very little actual stress to the teeth.However,the poundage,due to leverage, that one handles in the teeth lift is far less than in the neck lift.

Kurt J. Wilkens
12-22-2005, 02:18 PM
Interestingly -- and perhaps naively (sp?) -- I thought I was the only one currently doing the jaw/teeth lift. I like this drill for strengthening the muscles of the jaw (for absorbing blows, as HSLD mentioned) as much as the teeth and neck. I usually use a towel looped through the handle attached to the loading pin.

Without referencing my training logs, I think the most I've done on this lift is ~75-80 pounds for a triple. I'm curious what anyone else may be using, and what the 'record' might be.

FWIW to anyone ...

Kurt

ChuteTheMall
12-25-2005, 06:02 PM
Great topic for thought, I haven't actually tried the following yet:

Consider adding a tumpline to a pack, and gradually wean yourself away from the shoulder straps. Google "tumpline" for more ideas. This pic is from a paddling site, http://www.paddling.net/sameboat/archives/sameboat260.html

http://www.paddling.net/sameboat/Images/tump1.gif



Note the bandanna under the tumpline in this old pic:
http://www.nps.gov/olym/people/tumpline.jpg