Have you ever felt like a turtle stuck in its shell, unable to turn its neck to see what it’s missing out on?
Well, with proper exercise and dedication, you can become the ostrich version of yourself.
Imagine not having to take two extra steps just to turn your head around!
All jokes aside, exercising the neck is not an activity that can be done straight away – those who don’t know how to do it properly could end up with a sore, or worst case, injured neck for days.
Thankfully, this article will give you all the best tips about building neck muscle so that you can confidently look in every direction!
No pun intended.
We’ll also answer some common questions, such as:
- Can neck muscles be built?
- How do I make my neck muscles bigger?
- How long does it take to build neck muscles?
Now let’s get to learning more about building neck muscle, shall we?
Why Are Neck Muscles Important?
It’s an old adage: having a strong neck can be the difference between making a play and taking a nap in the grass.
An often overlooked area of athletic development, having a developed neck is essential not just to become an all-around better athlete but also to help protect you from injury.
Get on top of it, and you’ll get past all the aches, pains, headaches – and maybe even neck aches, that could develop in the absence of proper strength in this vital area.
All in all, think of it this way – a well-developed neck has implications of different natures.
Aesthetically, it can give your physique a much more complete look, and you’ll likely never be called ‘pencil neck’ again.
Athletically, a strong neck can help you avoid head injuries and even concussions simply because the neck stabilizes the head and absorbs forces.
So yeah, it’s not all chest, arms, and back! Give building neck muscle some love too!
Our necks are fascinating anatomically speaking – what other part of the body can we rotate and tilt more than the neck?
Even more amazing, it provides stability for your onboard CPU, ehm, brain.
Now, neck anatomy is quite complex but let’s go through the main muscles briefly.
The platysma is a sheet of muscle located in the neck and extending down to the collarbone.
It is responsible for allowing us to make expressions such as smirking or frowning, as well as helping to move the neck and lower jaw.
Fun fact: the platysma is also the muscle that is responsible for giving the “turkey neck” appearance when it becomes loose or sagging with age.
Interesting, isn’t it?
The subclavius is a small muscle located beneath the collarbone (or clavicle) and is responsible for helping to stabilize the shoulder joint.
It is a short muscle that originates from the first rib and inserts into the undersurface of the collarbone.
The subclavius’ main function is the active stabilization of the clavicle during movements of the arm and shoulder.
Interestingly, the subclavius is one of the muscles that can be affected by thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition that occurs when there is compression of the nerves, blood vessels, or muscles in the area between the collarbone and the first rib?
The sternocleidomastoid muscle (also known as the SCM) is a large muscle located in the neck that is responsible for moving the head and neck.
It is a long, slender muscle that originates at the breastbone (sternum) and the collarbone (clavicle) and inserts into the base of the skull.
The SCM is involved in various movements such as turning the head from side to side, tilting the head back, and flexing the neck.
Fun fact: the sternocleidomastoid muscle is the most common muscle affected by torticollis, a condition that causes the head to tilt to one side and the chin to be pulled down towards the chest.
The infrahyoid muscles, also known as the strap muscles, are a group of four muscles located in the neck inferiorly to the hyoid bone.
These muscles are the sternohyoid, omohyoid, sternothyroid, and thyrohyoid.
The infrahyoid muscles are responsible for stabilizing and moving the hyoid bone and larynx during swallowing and speaking.
They also help to depress the larynx and lower the mandible during opening of the mouth.
Did you know that three out of four infrahyoid muscles are innervated by the ansa cervicalis, a nerve loop that arises from the spinal cord and innervates several neck muscles?
The scalenes are a group of three muscles located in the neck that are responsible for moving the neck and lifting the first two ribs.
These muscles are the scalenus anterior, scalenus medius, and scalenus posterior.
They are involved in various movements such as tilting the head to the side and rotating the neck.
The suprahyoid muscles are a group of four muscles located in the neck above the hyoid bone.
These muscles are the mylohyoid, geniohyoid, stylohyoid, and digastric.
The suprahyoid muscles are responsible for moving the hyoid bone during swallowing and speaking.
The Training Rule Of Thumb
Now, what exercises should you do for your neck?
Well, before we give you some of our best tips, let us reveal to you our rule of thumb for exercise choice.
When considering a training routine, it is important to look beyond just the exercises that you are going to do and think about the underlying joints and muscles.
The first rule of thumb should be to ask yourself what functions the joint or muscle has and how you can strengthen those with specific exercises.
This helps to ensure that each exercise you choose serves a purpose, leading to more focused and effective training sessions.
Moreover, this opens up different possibilities for workouts as one could mix and match a variety of exercises that target these functions in different ways.
A balanced approach in this way will help you achieve your goals much quicker than blindly picking an exercise for each muscle group.
Now let’s go over 4 core neck exercises, shall we?
Side neck turns are often overlooked in the exercise world, but they can be a great way to build strength and stability in your neck.
To start, practice side neck turns with no added resistance.
This will allow your body to get used to the motion and get comfortable turning your head left and right.
As your body becomes more accustomed to the motion, you may find that it’s time to add some resistance, like bands or weights.
By adding extra resistance, you can progressively strengthen the muscles around your neck and prevent injury while doing potentially risky activities such as contact sports.
So next time you’re looking to give those neck muscles a good workout, consider giving side neck turns a try – simply stand up straight in a good posture, turn your head/chin to the right side, return to the initial position and repeat the same movement, on the opposite side.
Side bends of the neck are a crucial component to any neck strengthening program.
They are one of the most essential exercises to target the subtle and intricate muscles in our necks.
Starting with no resistance is highly recommended – by gradually introducing resistance, such as bands or weights, you can slowly build strength and minimize injury risks associated with adding too much weight too soon.
Side bends not only promote balance amongst the sides of our neck and strength within the musculature, but they also reduce tension experienced throughout our upper bodies.
Take time to perform these correctly – Simply, stand in a proper upright position, look straight and bend your neck to the side as if you’re trying to touch your shoulder with your ear, then go on the opposite side. This will help building neck muscle fast.
When you add resistance, such as a weighted disk, you may want to do each side individually – lay down on a bench on one side, place a disk on the left side of your head, lower your head to the right and push against the weight of the disk by contracting the left side of your neck.
Look Down & Up
Looking down and up are two simple but effective exercises that target the neck muscles.
Starting with no weights is a great way to ease into the exercise so that you can learn how to do it safely and successfully.
As you feel more comfortable and build strength, you can gradually add resistance over time in order to maximize the effectiveness of the movement.
This approach is similar to other exercises in which adding weight progressively allows for gains in strength, power, and endurance.
Adding a few minutes of looking down and up into your weekly physical activity will help provide good posture and improve the overall health and strength of your neck muscles.
Now you may be wondering – How long does it take to build neck muscles? Can neck muscles be built?
Growing massive neck muscles may sound like a dream come true, but it’s not as easy as snapping your fingers.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to put in the work if you want that neck of steel.
Consistency is key to success here – no sleepwalking your way through this journey!
However, the more effort and commitment you give to building neck muscle, the better your results will be.
So put in the time, do your regular neck exercises and keep at it – that neck will thank you in due time!
Doing neck exercises is an important part of maintaining your health and wellbeing, however it is critical that you maintain good posture whilst doing them.
This will help ensure that you are acting in the safest manner possible, as incorrect posture could lead to unnecessary injury.
When performing any type of neck exercise, make sure that your shoulders are relaxed and keep your back and neck straight – this will aid with improving flexibility and reduce strain on the muscles.
Be sure to move slowly throughout each exercise, as quick movements could cause discomfort, or injury.
Keeping these safety guidelines in mind will ultimately result in a successful workout for your neck.
Building neck muscle is easy
And so, if you’re asking yourself “how do I make my neck muscles bigger?” the answer is simple – go through the main functions of the neck and progressively add resistance.
This is the secret of building neck muscle!