Strength training is often thought of as the lurking ground for the strong and muscular among us. Only a few years ago the free weight area was a breeding ground for modern day Herculean men. Men that had on barely there tank tops and those 80's M.C. Hammer pants.
They strutted around and stuck out their chest, they made loud grunting noises and often times slammed down the free weights. The lesser among us, mostly women and average Joe's, were left to the cardio area and fitness classes.
Fast forward a few years and things have changed. A lot. Strength training is now becoming recognized as one of the best weight loss methods around. After all the more lean muscle someone has the more calories they will burn per day. Women and men, average Joe's and Jane's are all making their way to the free weight area.
They all know a thing or two about strength training. They know to lift a heavy enough weight over a period of several sets. They know to do strength training before they do their cardio. They also know to have proper form at all times. Or do they?
The other day I was walking around the gym and noticed one of my average Joe members on one of the neck machines. My eyes popped out of their sockets and I stood there in disbelief as this average Joe was whipping his head back and forth.
I quickly walked over to him and asked if he would like a few pointers. He stopped the back and forth motion of the neck machine and agreed to listen to some of my suggestions.
I started to explain that doing exercises for the neck is not necessary to do several times a week. I also mentioned that if he decided to do strength training for his neck muscles then he could get by with doing them about once per week. Anything more really was not necessary.
The average Joe sat attentively as I explained that his form was a bit off. All movements and motions should be done in a slow and controlled form when performing strength training exercises for the neck. It's not a good thing to have whiplash.
There are several neck exercises that can be performed in the gym or at home. Typically there is one machine in the gym that pertains to strengthening the neck. The side of the head will rest on a cushioned bar. The exerciser can slowly begin to push the cushioned bar down to their shoulder. Obviously this would need to be repeated on the opposite side of the head as well.
Similar exercises can be done at home. One friend can place their hand on the left side of another friend's head. The first friend can begin to apply resistance as the second friend slowly pushes their left ear towards their left shoulder. The right side should be done afterwards.
Another option to strength train the neck is to lie face down on a bed. Allow the head to relax off one of the sides. Slowly pick the head up as far as possible before you slowly begin to lower it back to start.
Alternatively, lie face up on the bed. The head should still be relaxed off the side. Slowly lift the head up as far as it is comfortable and then slowly lower back to start.
Work at a slow and controlled pace while strength training the neck. It is also important to stretch and warm up as one would with any other exercise program.
Several studies have shown that strength training the neck reduces neck pain in most individuals. It has also been show to increase neck strength and increase range of motion. The only caveat is to strength train with caution. Always talk with a qualified professional if you are not sure how to perform an exercise.
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