Train Your Neck With These Warm-ups

Don't overlook training your neck. Build strength and prevent injuries with neck warm-up exercises from STACK Expert Robert Taylor.

Strong Neck

All athletes need to consider how they are developing the musculature of their neck, including the upper back, head and jaw. Few do this, yet it takes only five or 10 minutes more in your workout to address these weak links. The payoff in injury prevention, flexibility and better performance is worth the extra time.

Consider adding these neck exercises to your warm-up:

Neck Warm-Up

Start Position: Lie on your back and place your arms above your head in an "L" position, palms facing up.

Movement No. 1: Flexion

  • Raise your head off the ground.
  • Tuck your chin to your sternum.
  • Pause and return to start position under control.

Movement No. 2: Full Extension

  • Same start position as above.
  • Drive your chin toward the sky.
  • Rotate your head while looking up.
  • Pause and return to start position under control.

Movement No. 3: Lateral Flexion

  • Same start position as above.
  • Raise your head off the ground.
  • Laterally flex your neck until your ear touches your shoulder. Don't elevate your shoulder to reduce range of motion at the neck.
  • Pause and return to start position under control.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Frequency: Three times per week
Sets/Reps: 1x10-15
Progression: The weight of the head may be adequate for sufficient warm-up.

Watch this video from SMARTER Team Training to see neck exercises that can be added to your dynamic warm-up:

Neck Strength Training

Start Position: Lie on a bench face up with your shoulders slightly over the edge of the bench. The top of your head should be parallel to the floor. At the beginning of each rep, your neck muscles should be totally relaxed.

Spotting

The spotter should place his or her dominant hand on your forehead and his or her other hand on your chin. Apply as much pressure as you need to accommodate for the strength curve of the neck flexors.

Movement

Flexing only your neck muscles, raise your head forward and up so your chin is resting on your chest. Pause momentarily and resist the negative to the starting position.

Frequency: Two times per week
Sets/Reps: 1x10-15
Progression: Increase resistance when you reach the top of the rep range with good form

Watch this video from SMARTER Team Training on Manual Neck Flexion:

Editor's Note: Coach Taylor has developed the SMARTER Team Training Audio Interview Series, dedicated to promoting critical thinking, reason and public understanding of prudent, purposeful and productive strength and conditioning practices for clients and athletes. Listen to episodes featuring some of the best experts in the fields of strength and conditioning, personal training, sports nutrition and sport psychology here.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: WARM-UP | WORKOUTS | BENCH | STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING | TEAM TRAINING | NECK MUSCLES