The Critical Importance of Neck and Head Training in Sports

The neck is one of the most vital parts of your body. You need to have a strong neck if you want to protect yourself from injury or even death. Your head plays a major role in your physical abilities such as balance, coordination, strength and speed. A weak neck can lead to paralysis, headaches and other problems.

A strong neck helps you perform better in sports like boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu and many others. However, it is not just about your physical capabilities; it’s also about your mental abilities.

If you are having trouble with concentration during a fight then your performance will suffer greatly. A strong neck allows you to focus on what matters: winning the fight!

If you want to improve your skills in any sport then there is no substitute for regular practice. Regular practice will allow you to get stronger and faster.

But how do you train?

There are two main ways of training your neck muscles: stretching and strengthening. Stretching involves holding stretches for a long period of time while strengthening involves doing specific exercises that strengthen certain muscle groups. Both methods can benefit your fighting skills in various ways.

Neck stretches:

There are a few different neck stretches that you can do to improve your range of motion. These stretches will help you get out of the way of an incoming attack and also help you to strike your opponent more easily.

Regular stretching will also help you avoid getting hurt when getting thrown to the ground.

Strengthening exercises:

There are several different ways to strengthen your neck. Some people prefer to do specific exercises that target certain groups of muscles.

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These exercises can be done either with weights or with an elastic band.

Here are some popular strengthening exercises:

Uneven Bars: The uneven bars are a great way to get strong and flexible. It also teaches you how to shift your weight in various directions.

For this exercise all you need is a set of uneven bars. First, grip the bar with one hand over and one hand under. Lift your feet off of the ground and pull yourself up to a standing position. Slowly move from side to side and get used to shifting your weight.

Tuck: The tuck is a great way to improve your flexibility in your back. For this exercise you need to lie flat on your back on the floor.

Cross your ankles tightly and bring your knees up to your chest. Grab the back your knees and pull them as far up your body as you can. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds while breathing deeply.

Lower Trap Stretch: The lower trap stretch is a great way to improve your posture. It also helps with relieving tension in your shoulder muscles.

For this exercise you only need a wall. Stand about three feet away from the wall with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Swing your elbows back and then forward to hit the wall as hard as you can.

The Critical Importance of Neck and Head Training in Sports - Picture

As you can see, there are many different exercises that you can do to strengthen your neck. As with all exercise programs proper form is very important if you want to avoid injury.

Be sure to consult a physician before performing any strenuous physical activity.

It takes some time for your muscles to adjust to working harder than they are used to. Give your body at least a month of hard training before you see how your new strength is affecting your performance.

Always make sure to stretch after you strengthen. This will help to prevent injury and also help you to avoid getting too stiff.

If you get too stiff then you won’t be able to move as fast or react as quickly during a fight.

There are also a lot of gadgets that you can use to strengthen your neck. These come in the form of special devices that can be attached to your head or weights that you can hang from your face.

There is some debate as to whether or not these gadgets are effective. It is believed that by strengthening your neck, you can prevent spinal injuries and even concussion. However, medical science has proven that people who have strong necks are just as likely to get spinal injuries as people with weak necks. So while these gadgets may not be effective from a medical standpoint, they can’t hurt you if you want to spend the money on them.

As you can see, strengthening your neck is not all that complicated. Just make sure to stay within your limits and be careful not to over-train.

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With a little dedication you should begin to see results in as little as two to three weeks. How much stronger you can become after that will depend on your dedication. As with all things you get out of it only what you put into it.

And that’s it!

For my next book I’m thinking of doing “The Paranoid’s Handbook”. Tell me if you’re interested and I’ll try to have it published within the year.

Good luck out there and stay safe!


Slade H. Kessel

Special thanks to R.W.

Bray for helping me edit and proofread this book so it actually makes some sort of sense!

Sources & references used in this article:

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Optimizing stability in femoral neck fracture fixation by Y Ye, J Hao, C Mauffrey, EM Hammerberg, PF Stahel… – Orthopedics, 2015 –

A 3-year longitudinal study of the effect of physical activity on the accrual of bone mineral density in healthy adolescent males by A Gustavsson, K Thorsen, P Nordström – Calcified tissue international, 2003 – Springer

The avoidability of head and neck injuries in ice hockey: an historical review by N Biasca, S Wirth, Y Tegner – British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2002 –

The care of the head and neck cancer patient is a team sport by CR Bradford – JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, 2013 –

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Collegiate and high school athlete neck strength in neutral and rotated postures by KJ Hildenbrand, AN Vasavada – The Journal of Strength & …, 2013 –

Summary and agreement statement of the first International Conference on Concussion in Sport, Vienna 2001 by M Aubry, R Cantu, J Dvorak… – The Physician and …, 2002 – Taylor & Francis