The Top 5 Best Neck Exercises

Muscular NeckNext to forearm training in muscles being neglected, neck training is next in line. Actually, I would say that people neglect neck training more than anything else. Many people have never even heard of it or would even know what to do.

The neck really is an important muscle. Think about it; unless you are wearing a turtle neck, everyone will see your neck. It can distinguish you from a bodybuilder to just a normal person.

How to Get a Muscular Neck

Although doing traps exercises such as shrugs and deadlifts will assist you in getting a more muscular neck, there are some other exercises that you can perform that help. Everyone is different, so I suggest that you experiment with all of these to see what makes you grow the most. From there, you should be able to change up your training to whatever suits you the best.


Anatomy of the Neck

The sternocleidomastoid muscles are the side muscles that run the length of the neck. These give the neck the appearance of width. The lower part of the sternocleidomastoid ties into the inner trapezius and provides muscle density directly above the clavicle bone.

Neck Anatomy
Anatomy of the Neck

Function of the Neck

The sternocleidomastoid muscles help with cervical vertebra flexion which allows the upper spine to bend and flex. This is obviously very important. The sternocleidomastoid also helps with all aspects of head movement. Having a muscular neck will also help with heavy compound movements such as squats in terms of stabilizing the bar.

The Top 5 Best Neck Exercises

  1. Neck Bridge

    The lift: You will start by getting in a position on the floor with your feet and hands on the floor. Once you get that position, you will need to put your head straight onto the floor and roll your head up and back and side to side by using your neck. A writing explanation probably will not do you much good, so we will provide you with a visual demonstration that will help you better understand this exercise. You will need to be extra careful when you do this exercise; when you become a master, you will be able to do this with no hands for a long period of time no problem.

    YouTube Preview Image
  2. Manual Resistance Neck Exercise

    The lift: This is probably the most simple neck exercise that you can do. All you will need is yourself or maybe a partner. If you just use yourself, then you can put your hands on your heads pushing your head backwards with resistance. When you do this, you will use your neck to try and keep your head straight. After that, you will do the same thing from the side of your head, and you will try to resist that push by keeping your head straight.

    Depending on how strong your neck is will depend on how strong you push your neck. Over time, you will be able to put more pressure on each side of your head. It is probably better that you do the resistance because you will have a better idea of how much resistance you can handle.

    YouTube Preview Image
  3. Neck Harness

    The lift:To do this exercise, you will need a special neck harness piece of equipment. Most gyms do not have this piece of equipment, so you may need to purchase it somewhere first. Once you do that, you will attach however much weight you need to it, and attach the top part to your head. When that is complete, you will sit down on a bench while slowly lowering your head to where your neck is about parallel with your shoulders. From there, you will raise your head back up to the top. Here is a video demonstration to help you better understand this exercise.

    YouTube Preview Image
  4. Barbell Shrugs

    Ahh, finally the shrug. Like we mentioned above, this will hit your neck pretty well just as well as it hits your trapezius. Once you start shrugging some heavy weight, then you will definitely experience some neck gains as well.

    The lift: Find a standard 45 lb barbell to grab at about shoulder’s width apart or a little bit wider. Your stance should be about shoulder’s width apart whenever you unrack the barbell. Once you unrack it, you should raise the barbell at a comfortable speed as if you are “shrugging”. Hence the exercise is called shrugs.

    YouTube Preview Image
  5. Upright Rows

    This is another exercise that also hits your trapezius pretty well. They are prone to nag people who experience rotator cuff pain though, so you should look out for that. If these are used correctly, they can be a pretty good exercise to build up your neck.

    The lift: You will start by using a standard 45 lb barbell. After you find that, you will grab the barbell at about shoulder’s width with palms facing outward. From there, you will bring the bar upward toward your neck with your elbows bent outward. Once you come about a few inches from your neck, you will slowly lower the bar back down to its starting position. You should start out light with this exercise until you become accustomed with the form.

    YouTube Preview Image

To integrate these exercises into your regular workout routine, choose one neck exercise to perform at the end of a back workout, and use shrugs somewhere in the middle of back workout. Dedicate a couple months to prioritizing your neck development and you will see changes pretty quick. Consider alternating neck isolation exercises every 3 weeks to shock the neck into new growth.

Use Facebook to Comment on this Post

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

9 Responses to “The Top 5 Best Neck Exercises”

    • Steve says:

      Deadlifts are definitely in the top 5, probably in the top 3, but I’ve already listed them on every Top 5 Best Exercises list, so I figured I’d give them a day off. You will be happy to see that I could not leave them off the upcoming top 5 best glute exercises list. I’ll publish that in a couple days.

  1. Todd says:

    Steve, awesome list. I haven’t dedicated training of my neck since I played football. Back then, we did neck bridges and Manual Resistance Neck Exercise everyday. I have no doubt that having a strong neck has saved my life while doing dumb things in my younger days.

  2. Hey Steve, wow I must admit I never even give any attention to my neck or the neck of any of my clients. They are all weight loss clients, not football players or wrestlers but I guess it doesn’t hurt to keep all muscles in our body strong and conditioned. :-)

  3. pravakar says:

    Amazing article! I am giving special thanks you to create such a informative article regarding neck exercises. your neck exercises program is absolutely workable. one can get good benefit after reading your article

  4. medical assistant says:

    this site is amazing….from many days i was searching about neck exercise as my body is fine but neck is long and thin…thanx for the info

  5. I never really gave much attention to my neck either. I’ll have to try some of these techniques out.

  6. FitMarker says:

    The Top 5 Best Neck Exercises…

    Pump or sculpt your neck with these top 5 best neck exercises….

  7. Great site for new workout ideas!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.