Fit and Fine by Kamal Singh CSCS: Neck workout

Published on Nov 12, 2022 12:08 AM IST

Like any other part of the body, if we strengthen the muscles of our neck, the joint wear and tear decreases

 (Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)
ByKamal Singh CSCS

Check any fitness website or print fitness magazine, there will be loads of articles on fat loss, muscle gain, 6-pack Abs, even glutes these days but one would be hard put to find any article on training the neck. I wonder why this is so, especially when every second person seems to suffer from neck pain these days. Even amongst the fitness aficionados in any gym, nobody seems to be training their necks! I see a lot of people train their trapezius muscles, aka Traps, with various types of shrugs but direct neck training is usually given a miss.

Most people do not understand how important it is to have a strong and muscular neck. A strong neck is particularly useful for preventing or decreasing the effect of whiplash and concussions. Thus, most sports people should train their necks, especially those playing contact sports like Rugby, Boxing, wrestling and even soccer. Neck training should not be limited to contact sports but should also be a part of well-designed program for those training for general fitness and health.

Cervical Spondylosis…speak English please!

Cervical Spondylosis is a general term for the age-related wear tear of the neck. This condition leads to neck stiffness, neck pain and sometimes pain travelling down one or both the arms (radiculopathy). It gets worse with age and is the reason that one sees some senior citizens walking around with a big collar around their necks. The treatment is usually physiotherapy – where they are made to do neck strengthening exercises!

Like any other part of the body, if we strengthen the muscles, the joint wear and tear decreases. Also, the head is the heaviest part of the human body, the neck muscles have to be strong to support its weight.

So why wait for pain to develop and then start working on the neck? It is my contention that Cervical Spondylosis is no longer age related but posture as well as lack of physical fitness related. That is why we are seeing an increase in the neck pain, stiffness etc in the young sedentary populace.

A Simple Neck Strengthening Routine

The human neck moves primarily in 4 directions – up, down, left and right. If we strengthen the neck in these 4 movement patterns, we should be able to take care of all the muscles around the neck.

Neck flexion: Lie face up on bench or a bed, with the head hanging off the edge. Hold the head parallel to the ground with the chin tucked towards the chest. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds.

Neck Extension: Lie face down on a bed or bench, with the head hanging off the edge. Hold the head parallel to the ground with the chin tucked towards the chest. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds.

Neck Lateral Flexion: Lie on your side on a bed or bench, with the head hanging off the edge. Hold the head parallel to the ground with the chin tucked towards the chest. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds. Now repeat on the other side of the body.

Do these 4 exercises 2-3 sets at the end of your workout. The aim is to increase the holds from 15-20 seconds to 60 seconds.

Once you can easily hold for 60 seconds, add weight by using a 10-pound plate and repeat the process.

Neck strength increases pretty rapidly and so does the musculature around the neck. Once you can handle 25 pounds for a 60 second hold, then the frequency of the workouts can be reduced to once a week. This is essentially for maintain the muscle mass and the strength gain. Now go and do it.

Kamal Singh is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who has been coaching for 15 years

From HT Brunch, November 12, 2022

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