Bodybuilding Neck Exercises

A strong muscular neck is not only a requirement for a bodybuilder to finish out a brawny physique but is also essential in protecting the cervical spine during an accident or contact sports. Many people forgo the idea of specifically training the muscles of the neck. However, the neck musculature is important not only in a protective, spine-supporting and posture enhancing sense but also as an enhancement to your symmetry, according to To develop the musculature of the neck, incorporate bodybuilding neck exercises into your regular strength routine.

Manual Resistance

Manual resistance exercises can be performed on all aspects of the neck and require only your hands for resistance. You can complete these exercises standing or sitting. To begin, place your hands on the front of your head. Push your hands against your head, while simultaneously resisting the pressure with your neck. Maintain the resistance for 15 to 20 seconds. Apply the principles of this exercise to also work the back and sides of your neck.

Plate Raises

The plate raise technique can be varied to work all aspects of the neck. To work the front of your neck, lie face-up on a bench with your shoulders at the top of the bench. Your head and neck should be able to hang freely from the bench. Set a light weight, no more than 2.5 pounds, on your forehead and steady it with your hands. Beginning with your head in the down position, slowly raise your head as high as you can using only your neck muscles. To work the back of your neck, simply lie face-down and use the same concept. The sides of the neck can be targeted by lying on your side and raising your head toward your shoulder.

Neck Harness

The use of a neck harness allows you to use heavier weights to better develop the back of your neck. Some fitness centers allow you to borrow a harness, or you can purchase your own. Secure the cap of the harness to your head with weight already attached to it. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bent at the hips with your hands resting on your quadriceps muscles for support. With your head lowered, contract the back of your neck and slowly raise your head until you are looking straight ahead. With control, lower your head back down.

Neck Nods

Neck nods work to strengthen the front of your neck. This exercise is popular among boxers to fortify the neck and improve their ability to take a punch. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides. Slowly nod your head forward until your chin touches your upper chest. Return your head to the floor and repeat. If you have a weak neck, it will not take long for you to fatigue with this exercise.

Upright Rows

Upright rows target the superior portion of the trapezius muscle, which is on the posterior of the neck and extends down into the back. Stand with your legs slightly apart and your back straight. Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. Rest the barbell against your thighs. Keeping your back straight, stabilize your core and pull the barbell up along your body to your chin, keeping your elbows as high as possible. Slowly lower the bar back down your body.


Shrugs are an effective exercise for building strength and mass in the upper trapezius muscle. This exercise can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp a dumbbell in each hand. Stabilize your core and shrug your shoulders upward toward your ears, squeezing your trapezius muscle. When you reach the top of the movement, hold for a count of one then slowly relax your shoulders back down.

About this Author

Jen Weir is an honor graduate of Montana State University where she acquired her Bachelor of Science in health and human development with a concentration in exercise science. She has also earned a personal trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.