Often in movies, you’ll see boxers doing neck strength training, from lifting weights with their neck to doing a headstand while rolling their head around, it's a common trope but how realistic is it? Well actually, more than you might think. Strength training neck muscles is an important part of a boxer’s regimen because having a strong neck allows you to absorb punches better. Below I’ve answered some questions I get from new fighters at the gym I compete out of as well as some simple tips about how to train your neck for boxing.
Why do Boxers Train Their Neck?
Any combat sport will generally have you strength train your neck because it lessens the risk of spinal cord injury and because it allows absorbing impact shock more effectively with minimal damage to the brain. What makes boxing neck training so ubiquitous is that in boxing there are 2 viable targets - the opponent’s head or the opponent’s torso. Because of this, boxers have to absorb more damage to the head than almost any other combat sport.
How do Boxers Strength Train Their Neck?
Boxers use a variety of training techniques to make sure they’re able to handle the stress they’ll be put under. Some of the most common include:
Neck Ups - Lie belly down with your head hanging off a flat surface. Lift your neck up, twist side to side, and repeat.
Weighted neck ups - similar exercise, except you use a piece of neck training equipment that straps to your head and lets you hand a small weight plate. You don’t do side-to-side motions with weight, only up and down.
Should I Train my Neck if I Don’t Spar or Compete?
Training your neck can be good to do occasionally even if you don’t plan on getting in the ring, but you should never do so without the guidance of a certified trainer. The neck is an incredibly vital area of your body and is probably the last place on earth you want a workout injury occurring.
How Often Should Boxers Train Their Neck?
This kind of depends on what level you’re at. Someone who isn’t actively competing but is sparring and is in the gym a lot should probably train their neck around 2 times a week, but if you’re competing regularly and sparring weekly, then it should be more like 3 times a week. I personally find 4-5 times a week overkill.
Neck training is one of those things that probably seems really strange from the outside looking in, but it's actually fairly commonplace in contact sports, even non-combat ones like football. The benefit of neck training is allowing the athlete to absorb shock better as well as strengthening support for the cervical spine, helping to prevent catastrophic injuries to the spinal cord. Neck strength training does help and even if you aren’t fighting it's a great trick to add to your exercise routine, just don’t overdo it, and be sure to consult a professional trainer to get the most out of neck training.
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