Do you feel that years of exercise and strength training have got you looking somewhat disproportionate? Do you feel your head is smaller compared to the rest of your body? If you agree to either of the above statements, then let me resolve this mystery for you.
Your body has started to look asymmetric because you've been ignoring the neck muscles for too long now. Building neck muscles is just as important as exercising any other muscle in the body, and this goes for everyone, especially athletes and boxers.
Read the article ahead as we share with you what you've been missing out on because of your poor neck and how you can easily build up more muscle mass.
Having thick neck muscles is a common feature amongst celebrities, athletes, and boxers, but they have a greater role in our lives than just being aesthetically pleasing.
Our necks are responsible for supporting the head and the brain while providing a passage for an entire system of nerves. For smooth communication between the brain and the rest of the body, an impeccable system of nerves is required, which can be hindered if the neck area is weak or suffers a concussion when fighting.
Plus, our necks have spinal cord passing through them, and if the neck muscles are compromised, our spine will suffer and result in poor lumbar strength.
When it comes to boxers and other athletes, having a strong neck is very crucial. Exercising the neck muscles helps reduce the chances of neck injuries, allows greater flexibility, and enables the necks to recover quickly from any concussions suffered during fights.
If you wish to be a boxing champion, having thick, strong neck muscles is the key to your success. A thick neck will allow you to take a punch and recover quickly without getting injured, making you undefeatable amongst the competitors.
Why Neck Training Should Be a Priority for Athletes?
Besides the fact that thick muscles make you look attractive, there are multiple other reasons why you should be working your neck muscles:
1. No More Neck Pain
Chronic neck pain is amongst the most common problems faced by the majority of people. Poor standing posture, awkward sleeping angles, incorrect desk and chair heights, and long hours of desk jobs all contribute to neck pain.
Practicing neck exercises and strengthening the neck muscles helps relieve neck stiffness, release tension and prevent any pain or injuries.
2. Protection Against Injuries
Whenever our body faces a shock, the neck is always the one to face its brunt. Having a strong neck is crucial for boxers, MMA fighters, wrestlers, etc., who frequently suffer direct blows to the head.
Having a strong neck enables them to recover from an impact made directly to their head relatively quickly. When you've been hit on the head by the opponent, a strong neck will prevent the head's spinning and absorb the blow quickly, allowing you to fight back harder.
3. Improved Sports Performance
For every sports activity, having strong movement and balance is critical. Since many neck muscles assist the respiratory system in our body, having good neck strength act as a game-changer for athletes.
A strong, thick neck helps improve the nerve impulse, which runs from our brains to the spinal cord, helping athletes breathe better and strengthening the locomotion and balancing actions.
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Best Neck Exercises for Boxers
Here is what you need to do to grow thick, strong necks;
1. Neck Flexion
Performing neck flexion exercises helps relieve the stress and loosen the stiff muscles while reducing the spinal pressure. When doing the movements properly, a stretch should be felt at the back of your neck. Here is how you should do it:
- Sit up straight on a bench, high enough for your knees to make a 90-degree angle.
- Select the amount of weight, and hang it in the harness chain.
- Keep your feet open shoulder-width apart with toes pointing forward and bend down your torso until it is almost parallel to the ground.
- Next, hold the weight in your hand and sit up straight again. Gently release the weight and place your arms on your knees.
- Slowly lower your neck until your chin touches your chest, and then slowly go back up.
- Inhale your breath when going down and exhale when returning to the original position. Perform 15-20 reps and not more.
2. Neck Lateral Flexion
Neck lateral flexion helps work out the side muscles of your neck called 'Sternocleidomastoid' for increased neck flexion and extension. Here is how to do it correctly:
- Hold the weights in your hand and lie down on your side, keeping the head off the bench.
- Once you're settled, release the weight slowly and hang it on the floor.
- Let your neck go down until you feel a slight stretch on the opposite side of the neck.
- Start lifting your neck slowly and steadily while you exhale and hold for two seconds.
- Now inhale and slowly lower the weights to their original position
- Repeat the steps for 15-20 reps and do the same practice on your other side.
3. Neck Extension
Neck extension exercises help relieve the stress on the neck muscles while increasing mobility, range of motion, and alignment, allowing you to go about your daily activities with greater ease.
- Once the harness is secured on the head properly, lie down on a bench, ensuring your stomach touches the platform.
- Attach the preferred weights to your harness, slowly release them, and make sure no jerks are felt on the neck.
- Gently lift your neck upwards until you're looking up, then slowly return your head to the original position.
- The above two steps make a single rep. Repeat the steps within the range of 15-20 reps and not more.
4. Neck Plate Curls
Neck Plate curls are a good exercise to ease up the neck stiffness and relax your spine. It helps reduce the frequency of chronic neck pains and increase flexibility.
- Start by laying down on a bench, with your face towards the floor and head hanging off the bench
- Hold up a weight plate and place it on the top of your head, holding it with both your hands
- Now, slowly lift the head, hold the position for a few seconds before you lower it down, and repeat the process.
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How to Use a Neck Harness?
Neck muscles are home to various nerves and are connected to the spine, making them a delicate body. Therefore, the neck requires careful handling when exercising it using a neck harness with heavyweights.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using a neck harness:
- Make sure that the neck harness is properly wrapped around the head and does not come ripping off when weights are hanged.
- Always use weights that your neck can easily bear, or else you will strain the neck muscles and end up getting injured.
- Once you've hung the weights onto the harness, make sure that you don't leave the weights hanging in the air. Hold the weights in your hands and set your position for exercising. When ready to exercise, slowly release the weights in the air without causing a jerk to your neck.
- When exercising your neck in a laying down position, keep the weights supported by placing them on the floor and slowly lifting them.
- When flexing your neck with weights attached to a neck harness, never lift your neck so high that your neck muscles start hurting. If the neck feels anything more than a slight stretch, you will end up with severe injuries.
- Make sure you are always in control of your neck and can handle the pressure and neck movements throughout the workout session, to avoid any consequences.
When buying a neck harness for exercising the neck muscles effectively and efficiently, keep these essential elements in your mind.
- A neck harness must be made with nylon straps and thick paddings, ensuring utmost comfort.
- The head strap should be adjustable so it can fit anyone, and you don't have to go around measuring your head circumference and still end up buying the wrong size.
- The ideal steel chain length for hanging the weights should be 30 inches long and made with heavy-duty stainless steel, so it does not break when lifting weights or get rusted with time.
- Superior quality saddle stitching and extra heavy D-rings in a neck harness will guarantee you work out without fearing the weights falling off so you can intensify the exercises and enjoy a perfect resistance training session.
You can try the amazing neck harness by DMoose if you want to invest in reliable equipment. It consists of 30 inches of heavy-duty steel chain and extra-heavy D rings, ensuring that the chain does not break when lifting weights. Besides, the deluxe quality nylon straps, thick padding, and adjustable straps provide comfort and extra safety.
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The necks are one of the most ignored muscles in the fitness regime, yet they hold a significant place in fighting and boxing. If you want to enjoy an aesthetically pleasing body and defeat your opponent in the ring with quick reflexes, it's high time you start training your neck muscles.
- Bovim, G., et al. ‘Neck Pain in the General Population’. Spine, vol. 19, no. 12, June 1994, pp. 1307–09. Europe PMC, https://doi.org/10.1097/00007632-199406000-00001.
- Falla, Deborah, et al. ‘Effect of Neck Exercise on Sitting Posture in Patients With Chronic Neck Pain’. Physical Therapy, vol. 87, no. 4, Apr. 2007, pp. 408–17. Silverchair, https://doi.org/10.2522/ptj.20060009.
- Boden, Barry P., and Christopher G. Jarvis. ‘Spinal Injuries in Sports’. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, vol. 20, no. 1, Feb. 2009, pp. 55–68. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmr.2008.10.014.
- Proctor, Mark R., and Robert C. Cantu. ‘HEAD AND NECK INJURIES IN YOUNG ATHLETES’. Clinics in Sports Medicine, vol. 19, no. 4, Oct. 2000, pp. 693–715. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0278-5919(05)70233-7.
- Portero, Pierre, et al. ‘Effects of Resistance Training in Humans on Neck Muscle Performance, and Electromyogram Power Spectrum Changes’. European Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 84, no. 6, June 2001, pp. 540–46. Springer Link, https://doi.org/10.1007/s004210100399.