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Lift Well, Play Hard

Stick Your Neck Out

Strong neck muscles (primarily the sternocleidomastoid, scalenes, splenius capitus, and splenius cervicis) may not be of any particular use to a golfer, but they can be invaluable for anyone whose sport has a risk of head and neck injuries. This, of course, is invaluable for a football player or a wrestler, but even a cyclist will benefit from added neck strength. (If you don't believe us, check out Jonathan's collection of cracked helmets from bicycle crashes he's been in.) On the other hand, a golfer or kayaker would be wise to focus on grip strength far more than a swimmer or runner.

While neck muscles aren't very glamorous, they're important for athletes in contact sports or those who are in danger of head injuries. In other words, if you wear a helmet for your sport, you'll probably decrease your risk of injury by doing a few simple neck exercises.

Some gyms have specially designed neck machines, and others have a harness that you can wear on your head to do various exercises. We've described the simplest way of doing them, which is with manual resistance – you press against your head with your hand. Not very high-tech, but reliable and effective.

Here is how to properly perform neck flexion:

  1. Sit in a chair with back support.
  2. While looking forward, place the palm of your dominant hand on your forehead.
  3. Bend your head forward, chin toward your chest. Resist the movement of your head by applying backward pressure to your forehead with your hand.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position.
Neck flexion

Here is how to properly perform neck extension:

  1. Sit in a chair with back support.
  2. While looking forward, place the palm of your dominant hand on the back of your head.
  3. Bend your head backward so that you are looking up toward the ceiling. As you do so, resist the movement by applying forward pressure to the back of your head with your hand.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position.
Neck extension

Here is how to properly perform a neck lateral flexion:

  1. Sit in a chair with back support.
  2. While looking forward, place the palm of your hand on the side of you head.
  3. Bend your head sideways, making sure to keep your nose facing straight (not toward the ceiling). As you do so, resist the movement by applying pressure to the side of your head in the opposite direction.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Neck lateral flexion

What follows is a list of exercises based on the demands of a particular sport. Remember that selection of the exercises we choose is specific to the sport, but the form used is the same regardless of the sport.



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Excerpted from he Complete Idiot's Guide to Weight Training © 2003 by Deidre Johnson-Cane and Jonathan Cane. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide website or call 1-800-253-6476.


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