Yes, direct neck training is absolutely necessary. The average lifter should directly train their neck to improve size and strength. Neck training not only has aesthetic benefits but also can make you more resistant to injuries and reduce neck pain.
There is a myth that says you do not need to directly train your neck, this is the same as the myth that says you do not need to directly train your forearms. There are a few genetically gifted individuals who can grow their neck or forearms without any direct training, by just doing compound movements, but this does not apply to the average lifter.
Doing shrugs and deadlifts will only get you so much neck growth, if you are an average lifter and you’re not gifted with great neck genetics, you must train your neck. This is not a bad thing at all, most people aren’t genetically gifted, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get a strong and big neck.
Luckily the neck isn’t difficult to grow when doing direct neck training. 18 inch arms are much harder to achieve than an 18 inch neck. After consistently doing neck training for a few months you should notice significant gains in your neck in both size and strength.
Why Should I Directly Train My Neck?
Directly training the neck will provide much faster results and will keep giving you results for a longer period of time. If you’re looking to increase neck strength and size quickly, doing direct neck training is necessary and will help you reach your goals much faster.
Indirect training will cause you to plateau much quicker and you’ll notice your neck wont grow as fast or it will stop growing at a certain point before reaching your goals. Direct neck training helps you break these plateaus and can quickly help you reach your goal.
As mentioned earlier in this article, it is a common misconception that direct neck training is not needed at all, this is false. There are some people who have very good genetics and can build large, strong necks without direct neck training, but for the average lifter, this isn’t the case. What usually happens for an average lifter is they will do indirect neck work and quickly plateau, their progress will stop and they will wonder why. This is what direct neck training can avoid and help with.
Does Training The Trapezius Muscles Build The Neck?
Yes training the trapezius can build the neck to an extent, but as mentioned above, you will quickly hit a plateau, the trapezius is a great muscle which can visually impact the way the neck and your overall physique looks in size and strength. But unless you have great genetics that help your neck muscles, your traps will continue to grow but you may notice your neck stops growing from this workout. Once this happens or if you notice workouts like the barbell or dumbbell shrug are not building your neck muscles, it is time to implement some direct neck training into your routine.
Usually after a month of direct neck training you should notice an increase in size and strength of your neck, after a few months of consistent training 2 to 3 times a week you should notice significant gains in your neck size and strength.
So indirect training can definitely impact the neck for some people, but the average lifter with no genetics advantages that can help their necks grow will need to implement direct neck training into their regime.
Are Deadlifts And Farmers Walks Enough?
Another common saying is deadlifts and farmers walks or any workout similar to these can indirectly increase neck size and strength. The answer is the same as above, these workouts can have an effect on some people but the average lifter will either plateau quickly or not notice any strength or size improvements.
These exercises are incredibly beneficial and I do not recommend just replacing them with direct neck training, but continue doing them and just add direct neck training to your routine for the best results. Doing this will have a greater effect on your overall physique and help you build a balanced physique.
Building both the actual muscles in the neck and the muscles around the neck will give you a physique that looks stronger and bigger. The issue many lifters have is they will build a strong, muscular body, but when they have a shirt on, no one can tell they workout. Building the neck can quickly fix this issue. A bigger and stronger neck will quickly change peoples views of you and perceive you as much more muscular.
So the main lesson here is to supplement your workouts with direct neck training 2 to 3 times a week for the best results.
Should I Do Neck Bridges?
This is a very controversial topic, some say you shouldn’t do neck bridges, others argue its been used for ages, especially by wrestlers and boxers. The issue with the neck bridge is it puts all the weight on your neck, compressing the spine and can cause damage over time to the discs.
Neck bridging is definitely risky and although my coaches have us use them in our Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Wrestling training, I can’t fully recommend them. They are definitely risky and I find there are way better alternatives that can get you the same, if not better results while keeping you much safer.
Wrestlers and other grappling arts alike usually use the neck bridge to avoid getting pinned and help use the movement to get you out of certain positions, so it has its uses, but it is still a risky movement to use all the time and if done too much can cause serious damage, especially if you are not careful or not focusing on your technique and form.
I discuss more about neck bridges in another article and discuss some safer alternatives that are just as effective. I’ll link it below.
How Often Should I Train My Neck?
I recommend doing direct neck training 2 to 3 times per week for the best results. When you’re just starting out I recommend starting very light and focusing on technique, use slow and controlled movements. Just keep in mind you don’t want to load heavy weights onto your neck, the neck doesn’t need heavy weights to grow fast. Your neck will grow extremely fast with light weights and slow controlled movements during your workouts.
If you push your neck too hard lifting too much weights or train it too much you will risk injuring yourself or worse, causing permanent damage. As mentioned before you don’t need to lift extremely heavy to see solid results from your neck training.
It is also recommended to add a stretching routine to your neck training regime, doing this will allow you to keep your flexibility and in many cases improve your flexibility. As with other muscles if you train without doing stretches your body will become tighter and you’ll lose flexibility, this can cause you to become more injury prone. Adding stretching to your routines before or after your workouts will help you become even more resistant to neck injuries.
Here are some articles on direct neck training and stretching.
As mentioned above, just doing shrugs, deadlifts, farmers walks, or similar exercises can increase neck size, but this is not always the case and you will eventually plateau. The average lifter will need to implement direct neck training to get great results and see significant improvements in their neck size and strength.
I also recommend focusing on the stretches outlined above to see even better results. Implementing stretching into your routine will help make your neck even more resistant to injuries and can help improve overall posture, resulting in much more long term benefits.
If you notice any neck pain during your neck training or you have a previous neck condition, I suggest speaking to a doctor immediately to get their advice. Usually your doctor will have you pair up with a physical therapist and they will give you some recommended direct neck training and stretching routines.
After doing direct neck training consistently for a few months you should begin to notice significant improvements in both neck strength and size. Once you reach your goal you can slow down the direct neck training and just maintain your current physique. If you don’t have a very muscular body, I don’t recommend trying to get a large neck since it will look out of proportion, you want a balanced physique. Although don’t let this stop you from still doing direct neck training for strength gains and health benefits to prevent injury.
Just be sure you’re practicing good form and technique while doing slow, controlled movements to see the best results. If you’re interested in some studies that show how effective direct neck training is compared to indirect training, check out these studies below.