Don’t Skip Neck Day: Three Surprising Benefits of Neck Training
It’s safe to say that ‘neck day’ isn’t penciled in on most people’s weekly workout logs. And whether you’re lifting weights for aesthetics, sports, or general fitness reasons, as long as you’re not skipping any major muscle groups, you’ll be well on your way to attaining a balanced physique. Provided you start slow and focus on training safely, exercising your neck like you would any other muscle group can lead to some unexpected gains. Below are three surprising benefits to neck work that make it worth adding to your training protocol.
Nagging neck pain is an inevitable result of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. But neck pain can form due to other daily habits, including poor posture, awkward sleeping positions, and general overuse. Fortunately, one of the advantages of building a strong neck is pain relief. Movements that strengthen major neck muscles like the sternocleidomastoids (i.e., front neck muscles) and upper trapezius (i.e., the muscle along the back of the neck) can help reduce tension and stiffness while correcting posture. Always be sure to do your research and discuss with your medical care provider before engaging in any new activity.
Neck work can be a godsend to athletes and other folks involved in contact sports such as rugby, football, soccer, boxing, and MMA. A thick, solid neck can reduce severe injuries associated with these sports, including concussions, sprains, and neck fractures. When training your neck for injury prevention, the goal is to fortify the neck muscles to act as a solid brace that wraps around neck vertebrae and cushions them from impact. Typically, this will involve utilizing some type of resistance, such as a plate weight or resistance bands. You might also consider investing in a neck harness to make performing these movements more manageable and accessible for at-home use. If you regularly partake in full-contact sports and look for ways to minimize injury, you should not be skipping ‘neck day.’
Having a thick, solid neck can often contribute to a more masculine appearance for men. Neck training can also improve posture and spinal alignment and have you looking and feeling more confident. Also, having a thick neck can help round out an already athletic body, so throwing in a few sets of neck curls at the end of your workout is a great way to balance out your physique. Of course, these are all subjective points and will vary from person to person. Remember, you’re on the right track as long as you focus less on how good you’ll look to others and more on what makes you feel good about yourself.
Neck training isn’t the most popular or well-known program, but it is arguably one of the most effective ways to mitigate injury and manage pain. And for those who like to look good and feel good with (or without) a shirt on, neck training has a lot to offer. As with any novel exercise routine, it is best to start small. Keep the resistance low and practice proper form while gradually increasing intensity over time. The strength gains will eventually follow as long as you keep safety a priority.