While is neck training becoming more and more popular over the years, when it comes to bodybuilding, it is still often overlooked.
In fact, I’ve only started to train neck recently myself, even though I have been into building a better physique for a couple of years.
But neck training has a long history in contact sports and martial arts, given that it reduces the risk of concussions, knockouts, and brain trauma.
In a 2018 study done by the Journal of Excercise Rehabilitation, it was revealed that smaller and weaker necks led to a greater risk of concussions compared to athletes with big and strong necks.
The neck musculature has an essential role in positioning and stabilising the head and may influence sport performance and injury risk.
You can utilize a number of ways on how to go about your neck training in the gym, but I find it equally efficient to spend a couple of minutes a day on your neck exercises at home, using very minimal or no equipment as a resistance.
And so in this article, I decided to share my ongoing experience and practices about building a thicker and bigger neck at home.
Bigger Neck is the Last piece of puzzle
Before we dive into the exercises and training, let’s establish the importance of neck size when it comes to the overall appearance.
I often see specimens of guys in the gym, walking around with muscle on muscle, but with having an extremely unproportionate neck size at the same time, relative to the rest of their body.
That’s why having or building a thicker neck is that last piece of a puzzle you should have in place – it gives your physique that full, attractive, and more “manly” look as if your body screamed “I am the “testosterone powerhouse”.
Here is an example of the “sexiest mug shot ever” from Apex of Men. The photo on the left is photoshopped to have a thinner neck for the sake of comparison to how huge difference can a thicker neck make.
Clearly, the difference can be quite significant.
How to train neck at home?
By knowing the importance and most importantly the difference a neck size can make, you should be hooked by now.
There sure are many options on how to train your neck in the gym, the most common one being curling a plate up and down on your head using your neck.
But what to actually do if you want to build some neck muscles and strength at home?
In this post, we will go through some basic home neck workout movements.
Let’s dive in.
Neck curls are probably the most important exercise when it comes to neck muscles development.
The main muscle worked here is the Sternocleidomastoid, which is the biggest neck muscle, visible from the front, making your neck thicker and increasing its girth.
How to do neck curls?
Find a proper position – something you can lie on with your head hanging over. (As myself here on the picture). This will provide for a greater range of motion as opposed to lying on the ground.
Once you get locked into a proper position, start curling your head up and down. Make sure to avoid using your core to flex the abs and help your body to do a crunch, instead of a proper curl.
Continue doing this for about a minute or 90 seconds, depending on how strong your neck is to start with, and you will feel a proper burn. I personally find going off of time easier than counting reps.
After each set, take about 90 seconds rest and do it again. In total, do 5 sets of 60-90 second rounds.
Also, especially if you have experience training your neck before, you might find this exercise too light and want to do something more challenging. The next exercise is where you’ll be able to use resistance and fatigue your neck even more.
Banded Neck Rotations
For this next exercise, you will need a resistance band, that you can buy at almost any sports equipment store and something at your home to be able to secure the band to.
If you want more resistance, buy a bigger and thicker band, which will add some solid weight on top of this movement.
If you feel uncomfortable due to the band rubbing on your skin, try putting a towel or something in between.
How to do neck rotations?
After you’ve secured the band in position, simply put it around your head, take 2-3 steps back and start moving your head side to side.
The further you go, the higher resistance you get. Doing this for about a minute or two will allow for your neck to burn a lot.
What if I don’t have anything to tie the band down to?
As my inspiration for this exercise Brad Arbic says, you could do this movement in the middle of a dessert.
Simply grab the band, put it around your neck, and rotate your head from side to side while holding the band in front of you.
Third and last neck exercise on this list are neck extensions.
They contribute to the overall thickness of your neck and involve a minor upper trap engagement as well, which can help with proper posture and neck stability.
How to do neck extensions?
The execution of neck extensions is very similar to neck curls.
Lie on the ground or find something you can lie on with your head hanging over (a chair, bed, bench..). However, if you don’t have anything available, lying on the floor will be sufficient.
Once in position, lift your shoulders and chest up and arch your lower back a little.
Then, begin extending your head up and down as far, as you can, without engaging any other body parts, especially try to avoid overusing your traps, which will leave your neck out of the movement.
Do that for about a minute or two, or until the muscle starts to burn. Then rest, and repeat.
Curling or rotating your neck up and down might sound and look a bit awkward at first, but if you try to do 5 sets to failure, you will feel the burn and soreness the next day, which is a good indicator you are putting your neck under a good enough stimulus to grow, even from home!
Which one of these exercises for home neck workout are you going to try next? Let me know in the comments below!
Frequently asked Questions
You can make your neck thicker and stronger by putting the muscles it’s composed of under a weight training stimulus. This can be done either at the gym or at home.
Shrugs mainly target the Upper Trapezius and Scapulae Muscles. Therefore, barbell shrugs do work muscles in your neck, but only to a degree. For proper neck size development, make sure to do targeted neck exercises.
To reduce the fat on your neck, you will have to reduce your overall body fat percentage, as there is no way to pick a particular spot on your body to reduce fat.
The best exercises to develop a thick and strong neck are neck curls, neck rotations, and neck extensions, which can all be done with added weight or just by themselves.