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Neck Workouts for a Thicker, Stronger Neck

Neck Workout

You've been going hard at the gym. And you're seeing results. 

You've built muscle on your back, chest, arms and legs...but what about your neck? 

If you feel like your neck is lagging behind the bulking that's happening everywhere else in your body, try these 3 neck workouts. They'll give you that thicker, muscular neck you're wanting. And at the same time, they'll help strengthen and fortify your neck against potential injury! 

 

3 Best Neck Workouts for a Thicker Neck

Ben, the founder of Back Muscle Solutions, tried these neck workouts for 4 weeks, and he saw great results! 

I’ll get to the results later, but first–the exercises!  

Towel Biting Neck Crunch 

Neck workouts at home: towel biting neck crunch

 

You read it right. 

This neck workout exercise does involve biting a towel, so be prepared to go full beast mode with this one. Definitely not conventional, this neck workout exercise might get you some looks at the gym. 

But hear me out. 

Ben found the pump and the strength results to be worth the weird looks. Plus, all you need is a weight plate and an old towel, and you can totally do this neck workout at home.  

If you want major neck results, and you don’t care what people think of you, go ape with the towel biting neck crunch! 

How to Perform This Neck Workout Exercise 

  1. Sit on a bench. 
  1. Select a weight plate or a kettlebell. I recommend starting with a lighter weight and seeing how it feels. 
  1. Wrap a towel around the weight plate or kettlebell handle. 
  1. Here’s the fun and potentially crazy part: bite the towel, supporting the weight of the plate or kettlebell with your head and neck. 
  1. Lower your head and neck toward your chest, tucking your chin with this motion. 
  1. Then slowly return your head to an upright position. 
  1. Repeat 8-12 reps.  

Front and Back Plate Neck Crunches 

Neck workouts at home: plate crunch

 

If you’re saying, “Ben, that’s too crazy for me,” don’t leave just yet. 

Ben also tried plate neck crunches, which he also found to be highly effective. This is a great neck workout at home because if you have a bench, a weight plate, and a towel, you’re set! 

Here’s how you do it: 

How to Perform This Neck Workout Exercise 

  1. Lie on your back on a bench–with your neck hanging off the side of the bench. 
  1. Put your feet flat on the other end of the bench, bending your knees up. 
  1. Using both hands, hold a weight plate on your forehead. 

Helpful hint: You can use a towel to avoid imprints of the weight number on the forehead! 

  1. Using your neck to lift the weight, bend your beck forward, tucking your chin. 
  1. Then, slowly extend your neck back.  

Side Plate Neck Crunches

neck workouts at home: plate crunch 

This is a similar motion, but this works out the sides of your neck. I recommend going lighter on the weight here. 

How to Perform This Neck Workout Exercise 

  1. Lie on your side on a bench–with your neck hanging off the side of the bench. 
  1. Using the hand on the upper side, hold a weight plate on the side of your head–cushioned with a towel if you prefer! 
  1. Bend your neck toward your upper shoulder. 
  1. Then, slowly extend your neck back down toward the lower shoulder. 
  1. Repeat for 8-12 reps. 
  1. Then, switch sides. 

 

Results After 4 Weeks of These Neck Workouts 

After trying these neck workouts for 4 weeks, Ben found the following results: 

1. Stronger Spine 

Ben felt a literal difference in his spine: from his mid-back up–and even his lower back a bit! By building his neck muscles with these neck workouts, Ben felt more sturdy and stable throughout daily life. 

2. Increased Confidence and Posture 

Posture impacts self-confidence, and Ben felt a difference in both as a result of these neck workouts. He found it easier to stand upright and to feel self-assured.

3. Functional, Athletic Benefits 

For Ben, the results showed up in his martial arts performance, feeling sturdier and stronger as he squared up against other guys. Whether you’re a martial arts athlete, a football player, or another type of athlete, a stronger neck can help you feel stronger and also prevent injury. 


For more details on Ben’s 4-week neck workout challenge, check out this video: 

Neck Anatomy 

To build a stronger neck, it can help if you know what’s actually going on in there. Here are some important muscles to know about in the neck as you set out on your neck strengthening journey. 

Sternocleidomastoid

This large muscle runs down each side of your neck, and it kicks in every time you tilt or rotate your head. 

Trapezius

The trapezius is triangular in shape. It begins at the back of your head and neck on either side and then extends down across your shoulders all the way to the middle of your back. 

Traps get involved with many daily neck movements, such as tilting your head, turning it to the side, or bending your neck. And since they’re such a big muscle, they also help with shoulder movement.

Scalene

This muscle comes in three pairs: anterior, middle, and posterior. Not only do they help you move your head around during the day, but they also assist with something else important: breathing! They do this by elevating the ribs during inhalation. 

Levator Scapulae 

This long muscle runs down each side of the neck and down to the shoulder blade. It helps you move your shoulder blades around and bend your neck sideways.  

Splenius 

There are two splenius muscles, and they extend along the back of the neck and upper back. They help you rotate and extend your neck. [2] 

 

The Mike Tyson Neck Workout Is a Pain in the Neck–Literally!

When it comes to neck workouts, a lot of us think of Mike Tyson’s neck workout. 

The famous former heavyweight boxing champion used neck bridges to get his massive neck, which supported him through all 50 wins of his 58 matches! 

His method was a bit out there to say the least.

The Mike Tyson neck workout he’s famous for is actually called the neck bridge, and there are still people who use this exercise in their neck workouts. 

Here’s how it worked: 

The Mike Tyson Neck Workout / Neck Bridge 

- He laid down on the floor on his back, bending his knees and placing his feet on the ground. 

- He then craned his neck back, so his forehead rested on the floor–literally placing most of his body weight on his neck in the process (and a little on his feet). 

- He then would bend and extend his neck repeatedly, rolling his head forward and then backward. 

Why I Don’t Recommend the Mike Tyson Neck Workout 

At Back Muscle Solutions, we believe first and foremost in healing for your back, and all of the exercises we choose to talk about fit into that bill of helping your back simultaneously strengthen and heal. 

While the Mike Tyson neck workout might have gotten him a thick neck and 50 wins, it won’t have you feeling like a winner in the long run.

Here’s why: 

Neck Compression

When you place your forehead on the ground and support your body weight on it, your neck experiences tons of compression, and that’s not a good thing! 

Bone Spur Risks 

When you compress your neck in the Mike Tyson neck workout, the vertebrae in your neck actually grind on each other. This causes more bone growth–something called bone spurs. 

And with even more bone now present in your neck, you have a higher chance of the nerves there getting pinched. 

Pinched Nerve Risks 

The Mike Tyson neck workout risks impingement of the nerves in your neck, which basically means the nerve gets smooshed between the vertebrae. 

This is something you might not feel right away, but discomfort from a neck impingement can happen quickly and cause shooting pain in your neck and arms.

So what I recommend: don’t risk it. 

There are so many other ways that you can work on getting a stronger, bulkier neck without compressing your neck and compromising your health in the process! 

 

Benefits of Neck Exercises 

The Mike Tyson neck workout might not be the healthiest approach to neck bulk, but if you can find healthy alternatives, such as the exercises I mentioned earlier in this article, you’ll find there are tons of benefits to adding neck workouts to your routine! 

Easier Breathing

The major muscles for breathing are the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, but neck muscles play a secondary role. So, when it comes to taking a deep breath, having a stronger neck can help you breeeathe easy. 

Fewer Concussions

Studies show that there is a direct connection between stronger neck muscles and less likelihood of a concussion. [1] That’s why if you’re a high-intensity athlete, neck workouts can come in clutch to keep you concussion-free!  

Relief from Neck Pain

We can all relate to the strain working at a computer tends to put on our necks. (Read more about Turtle Neck Syndrome!)

And chances are–when you’re not at your computer, you’re looking at your mobile phone or your TV. We spend way too much time looking at screens these days, and with that, comes a strained neck. 

Consistent neck workouts can lead to reduced stiffness, tension, and discomfort in the neck, actually increasing mobility and range of motion.  

Aesthetics 

Aesthetics are totally subjective, but some people prefer how they look with a thicker, more built neck. If that’s the case for you, these exercises could get you results! 

Especially if you’ve built up the rest of your body, you might find that your neck feels a bit out of proportion with the rest of your muscly self. Neck workouts can help ensure that your body stays proportionate and equally strong. 

 

We Stuck Our Neck Out For Ya!

Caring about a healthy, strong neck is why you’re here, right? At Back Muscle Solutions, we take pride in making content that supports your back pain journey–and that includes your neck! 

For further neck support, check out some of these videos: 

 

And if you prefer cozying up on the couch with a good article pulled up on your phone, check out these blogposts: 

“8 Trapezius Stretches to Loosen Tight Traps” 

“How Can Poor Posture Result In Back Pain?”

 

Neck Workouts FAQs

What workout works the neck?

I recommend the workouts in this article: 

- Towel Biting Neck Crunches

- Front and Back Plate Neck Crunches

- Side Plate Neck Crunches 

They provide alternatives to the Mike Tyson neck workout that will help you build mass and strength in your neck without compressing it.   

How do you build muscle in your neck?

Building muscle in your neck might not always happen with a conventional workout, which is why you’ll sometimes see athletes or weight trainers who have disproportionately small necks. 

Adding purposeful exercises, such as the ones I recommend in this article can help you get the thick neck you’re wanting!  

How can I make my neck muscles stronger?

With most human heads weighing 10-11 pounds, it only makes sense to build strength to your neck. The exercises in this article not only help with bulking but also build strength. And as mentioned, you’ll feel the benefits of neck workouts, such as: 

- better posture

- less neck pain

- easier breathing

- concussion prevention  

Can I do neck workouts at home? 

Totally! All of the exercises I recommend in this article can easily be completed from home as long as you have: 

- a towel 

- a weight plate 

- a bench  

Is it okay to train your neck every day?

Hold your horses there, pal! Everyday neck workouts might be a bit overboard. Keep it in moderation. It’s usually recommended to do neck workouts 2-3 times per week. 

How does Mike Tyson train his neck?

Mike Tyson primarily used neck bridges to work out his neck.  

Are neck bridges safe?

The neck compression that takes place during this exercise causes tons of risks for bone spurs and nerve impingements. Not worth the risk if you ask me–especially when there are plenty of other options that put way less stress on your neck. 

Necks are kind of important, so it’s always worth prioritizing health before aesthetics. 

Disclaimer: The content on this blog is not to be taken as medical advice. Consult a medical professional before attempting anything discussed on this blog. 

 

 

Now that you've read about neck workouts, check out our page on Why Is it Important to Ease Into An Exercise Program.

Sources: 

[1] https://www.jospt.org/doi/10.2519/jospt.2023.11727#:~:text=Neck%20Strength%20and%20Concussion%20Risk&text=There%20were%2013.7%20SRCs%20per,13%25%20reduction%20in%20concussion%20rate.

[2] https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=42HdDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=neck+anatomy&ots=WJns2LLbEQ&sig=U1tb-XTCDeoBc0njJCPlfNmBbm4#v=onepage&q=neck%20anatomy&f=false

[3] https://europepmc.org/article/nbk/nbk539734

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