Having a skinny neck does not have a major impact on your health, but it can cause self-consciousness. This is especially the case when the rest of your body is muscular. To bulk up your neck, focus on the muscles that surround it. These include the trapezius, levator scapulae, splenius and sternocleidomastoid.
A barbell shrug works the upper and middle trapezius as well as the levator scapulae. The "traps" are the muscles found at the bottom of the neck. They move down into the top of the back and flare out over the collarbones. The levator scapulae is a thin muscle in the front, lateral side of the neck. The shrug is performed from a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. While holding the bar in front of your thighs, lift your shoulders straight up in the air and hold for a second. Lower the bar back down and repeat. If you only have access to dumbbells, they will work as well. Simply hold them at your sides and shrug your shoulders. The important thing with both exercises is that you keep your arms straight.
Flexion and Extension
Flexion and extension are two basic neck movements that involve bending the neck forward and backward. By wrapping a weight plate in a towel, both of these movements can be turned into exercises. To do flexion, lie face-up on a bench, position your body with your head over the end of the bench and hold the plate on your forehead. Slowly bend your head backward and lift it back up. When you do this, feel the muscles on the front of your neck contracting. These are the sternocleidomastoid muscles. Perform extension the same way, except lie face-down on the bench and hold the plate against the back of your head. This works the splenius, which is on the back side of the neck.
Side Neck Bridge
A side neck bridge utilizes the weight of the body to work the sternocleidomastoid, upper trapezius, splenius and levator scapulae all at the same time. This exercise is performed on a vertical column or the outside corner of a wall, and you need a folded towel to do it. After placing the towel against the column at shoulder height, place the side of your head against it and move your feet laterally so your body is at an angle. Cross your arms behind your lower back and lower your body toward the column by bending your neck. Hold for a second, then push your head against the column to move your body back to the starting point. After doing a set of reps, switch sides.
Rear Neck Bridge
A rear neck bridge is performed from a face-up position on the floor. The splenius is the main muscle targeted, but the traps, levator scapulae and sternocleidomastoid all get worked as well. After bending your knees and placing your feet flat on the floor, rest your hands on your stomach. In a steady motion, lift your hips, arch your back and roll onto the top of your head. Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat. When doing this exercise, place a towel on the floor to pad your head.