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Neck Muscle Exercises

Updated on July 21, 2010

How To Exercise The Neck

There are many neck muscle exercises that can be performed with free weights and with machines. Using multiple exercises in your training routine is a necessity if you want to target all of the muscles in the neck.

The neck consists of three muscles: the trapezius muscle which is located at the back of the neck and stretches to the collar bones, the levator scapulae are the muscles found on the sides of the neck, and the sternocleidomastoid is found in the front of the neck.

To work the trapezius muscles, as well the shoulder muscles, I suggest performing the upright barbell row. The standard version of the exercise is performed by grasping a barbell with an over hand grip at about six inches in distance between the hands. The barbell should be resting against the thighs in starting position; the lift is a steady pull to just below the chin. The weight should be lowered in a slow motion to the starting point for the repetition to be complete. For a variation of the upright hands can be placed closer or further apart on the barbell. The further the hands are placed apart, the more stress is placed on the shoulder muscles.

The shrug exercise works both the trapezius muscles and the levator scapulae.  The shrug movement can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells. The lift begins with the hands at shoulder width and resting upon the upper thighs with the body upright. The shoulders are the only part of the body that moves in this exercise, they are simply shrugged straight up towards the ears and then lowered. Be sure to stand straight up and keep the arms straight throughout the exercise.

To work the sternocleidomastoid or the front of the neck, I recommend the performing the lying flexion exercise. To perform this movement you will need to wrap a weight plate in a towel. The lay back on a bench with the head bent over the end. Place the weight plate against your head and slowly raise the head up, trying to tuck the chin to the chest.

The lying extension which works the back of the neck is a similar movement to the lying flexion but is performed with the body in the opposite position.  Laying flat on the stomach with the weight plate and towel placed behind the head simply raise the back of the head and lower. Be sure to keep the rest of the body still throughout the movement and let the neck muscles do the work.

In all, neck muscle exercises are a great way to keep the often overlooked muscles in the neck strong. This will help protect the neck area from injury or help rehabilitate the area from a previous injury. 

neck muscles
neck muscles


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