Complete Neck Mobilization Routine

March 14, 2017 by VAHVA Fitness

Complete neck training for neck mobility and strength. Strong neck is good for health and useful in many different sports.

Training your neck can help a lot with neck pain and headaches. In wrestling and martial arts a strong neck is also a great asset because it makes you harder to control and allows you to better absorb hits. 

Neck machines, neck harness and weights can be useful, but you can actually make amazing progress with your bodyweight alone. Using additional weights can ruin your neck movements and as a result hinder your progress.

Slow and controlled movements are the keys to best results. You want your neck to be mobile which means that every muscle is working properly in their full range of motion.

Below are the basic neck functions, but it's good to know that you can mix these different functions together. For example, you can do neck lateral flexion in both supine and prone positions (not just on your side) which will stimulate the muscles very differently.

Do 10-20 repetitions per movement. You can do every neck mobility exercise in a circuit without any rest between the exercises. Do this for 3-5 rounds and take 1-2 minutes of rest between rounds.

Neck Mobility

Neck Flexion and Neck Protraction

neck flexibility and mobility

Lie on your back (supine) on the edge of a bench or a bed to allow your head move freely.

Neck flexion is when you keep your neck in place and only move your head like you are nodding. 

Neck protraction is when your entire neck moves back and forth. Keep your head stationary for the best results.

You can combine both neck flexion and neck protraction into one movement, but it's also beneficial to train both of these separately for the best results. You will mainly work the sternocleidomastoid muscle and many other smaller neck muscles.

Neck Extension and Neck Retraction

neck training strength

Lie on your stomach (prone) on the edge of a bench or a bed to allow your head move freely.

In neck extension only your head moves and the rest of the neck stays stationary.

In neck retraction you are pulling the entire neck behind. Tuck your chin here.

Similar to the neck flexion/protraction, you can combine these movements together but you should also train them separately. You will train muscles such as the erector spinae and splenus capitis. Neck retraction will also hit the upper fibers of the trapezius. 

Neck Lateral Flexion

training the neck strength

Lie on your side on the edge of a bench or a bed to let your head move freely.

Neck lateral flexion will target the sternocleidomastoid, erector spinae and upper traps. 

Avoid using any upper body movement: only the neck should move. Focus on slow and controlled repetitions.

Neck Rotation

Neck rotation will work the same muscles as the neck lateral flexion.

You can practice the neck rotation in many different positions: prone, supine, standing and when your neck is flexed or extended.

Neck Strength

Wrestler's Bridge

wrestler's bridge front bridge neck bridge

Wrestler's bridge puts serious weight on your neck, which is why you should first master the neck mobility. 

In the beginning you can use your arms for assistance to lift some weight off your neck. In the beginning it's also beneficial to do just isometric holds for time (10-30 seconds).

Once your neck gets stronger, you can start doing back and forth movement by pushing and pulling with your legs and neck.

Front Bridge

complete neck mobiization routine neck mobility

Front bridge is the opposite movement of the wrestler's bridge. Similar to the wrestler's bridge, start with isometric holds and by using your arms for assistance.

One great benefit of the front bridge is that you can do lateral flexion movements by going from side to side. Use your arms for assistance to avoid any injuries.


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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