Strengthening Your Neck Musculature

The importance of strengthening the neck musculature is a well-known concept to contact sport participants, such as rugby and MMA fighters. The very nature of this type of sport dictates that participants will receive various numbers of high-speed impacts to the head with only the strength of their neck musculature preventing these impacts from causing concussions, or worse, traumatic brain injury. This isn’t to say that other trainees wouldn’t benefit from this sort of training. The neck itself moves your head through various kinds of motion, namely, rotation, lateral flexion and rotation, forward flexion, and extension.

Neck Flexion Exercise

Neck flexion refers to bending your neck forward so you are looking at the floor. To execute this exercise, maintain a neutral position with respect to your head and then placing your hands against your forehead. Next, move your head forward whilst providing manual resistance with your hands. Once your chin has made contact with your chest, return to the starting position and repeat as desired.

Neck Extension Exercise

Neck extension refers to moving your head so you are looking at the ceiling. The exercise itself deals with providing manual resistance against said motion. Thus, what you would have to do is place your hands behind your head, resisting the extension of your neck so the musculature is being worked harder than normal. After having extended the neck fully, you can repeat for more repetitions by returning to the start position in a state of neck flexion.

Neck Rotation Exercise

Neck rotation entails moving your head to either side of your body. In order to strengthen the musculature that facilitates this movement, place one of your hands on the corresponding side of your head (between your temple and cheek). Then, proceed to rotate your head in the same direction as the hand providing the manual resistance. Rinse and repeat with the opposite hand.

Neck Lateral Flexion

Lateral flexion with respect to your neck entails moving your head from side-to-side so your ears are touching your shoulders. Place one of your hands on the corresponding side of your head and contract in opposition to the manual resistance provided by your hand. Rinse and repeat with the opposite hand.


Baechle, Thomas R., and Roger W. Earle. NSCA Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. 2nd Edition. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics, 2008.

Earle, Roger W., and Thomas R. Baechle. NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training. 2nd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2012.

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