In boxing, having a strong neck helps absorb the impact of blows to the face and better handles direct impact. It also enables quicker head movements, so you can see what's coming and dodge blows, and it doesn't tire as easily so you can maintain proper body positioning.
It doesn't take much to strengthen the neck muscles. Just add a few of these moves to your existing training regimen and see what a difference it makes in the ring.
Neck Exercises Without Weights
You don't need much weight — if any — to strengthen your neck muscles. Your own bodyweight can provide all the resistance needed to start building a bulletproof neck.
This advanced yoga move is great for strengthening the small stabilizers of the neck.
HOW TO DO IT: Place a mat or chair cushion in front of a wall. Kneel down, place your palms flat on the floor and your head on the cushion and transfer the weight onto the crown of your head. Lift your knees up, walk your feet in and kick up so both of your feet land on the wall. Pull your ribs and abs in, so your body is as straight up and down as possible. Press your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Isometric Neck Exercise
In isometric exercises, the muscle exerts force without changing length. Do this exercise forward, backward and to each side. Do five to 10 repetitions of each exercise.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand tall with your hands behind your head and your elbows out wide. Press your head into your hands and your hands into your head so that nothing moves. Hold for five to 10 seconds, rest for three seconds, then repeat.
Next, interlace your fingers in front of your forehead with your palms facing out. Press your forehead into your hands and your hands into your forehead. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, rest for three seconds, then repeat.
Finally, place your right palm on the right side of your head. Press your head into your palm and your palm into your head. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, rest for three seconds, then repeat. Switch sides.
Neck Exercises With Weights
When you're ready to step it up a notch or want variety in your training program, you can add weight via dumbbells and weight plates.
This classic exercise strengthens the trapezius muscles of the upper back and shoulders, as well as the neck. The muscles work together to support the cervical spine and head.
HOW TO DO IT: Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Lift your shoulders as high as you can, then lower back down. Do three sets of six to 10 reps.
Plate Neck Resistance — Face up and Face Down
Start out doing this exercise with no resistance until you get used to the motion. When you're ready, use a light weight plate to start and gradually increase the weight. Do three sets of eight to 12 reps of each exercise.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back on a weight bench with your shoulders slightly above the end of the bench and your head in line with your spine. Hold the weight plate on your forehead and slowly lower your head down until you feel a stretch on the front of your neck. Raise your head back to the starting position.
Lie face down on the weight bench with your shoulders just above the end of the weight bench and your head in line with your spine. Hold the weight plate against the back of your head. Slowly lower your head down, then raise it back up to the starting position.