Overview

A thick, muscular neck is common among bodybuilders and some athletes. It’s often associated with power and strength. Some people consider it to be part of a healthy and attractive physique.

A thick neck isn’t defined by a certain measurement. Rather, it’s measured in proportion to the rest of your body in terms of height, weight, and composition. If your body is muscular, it makes sense that you may want to bulk up your neck as well.

Some people want to have a thicker neck purely for aesthetic reasons. They like the way it looks and find it attractive.

But there are practical reasons as well. Strengthening your neck can have a positive effect on other muscles in your body, such as the trapezius and the deltoids. A thick neck can lower your risk of injury, stress, and general neck pain. Because the neck is used in most sports, it’s important to keep it strong and healthy.

Fat and muscle in the neck area

It’s ideal to have a thick neck that’s caused by muscle instead of fat. A thick neck should be the result of built-up muscle mass that comes from proper physical activity and a healthy diet.

You can tell the difference between fat and muscle by how it looks and feels. Fat on the neck will be softer to the touch, and the skin will be looser. A muscular neck will look and feel strong, especially when it’s flexed.

Having excess fat in the neck area is associated with certain risks, especially if it’s due to obesity. If you have a thick neck, you may have more narrow airways in the throat. This can increase your risk of sleep apnea.

According to this 2010 study, larger neck circumferences are associated with increased cardiometabolic risks. This research indicates that upper-body fat may be a unique pathogenic fat depot. Further studies are needed to expand upon these findings.

Neck fat can be caused by being overweight or obese. This is usually due to not getting enough physical activity and having poor eating habits. Certain health conditions can cause obesity, but they’re rare.

Cushing syndrome is a condition that happens when the body has high levels of the hormone cortisol for a long time. This can be caused by taking oral corticosteroid medication or because your body produces too much cortisol. One of the symptoms of this condition is deposits of fat on the neck and shoulders. A large neck as a result of Cushing syndrome isn’t the same as having a thick neck from strength training.

Exercises to strengthen the neck

Here are some exercises you can do to tone, strengthen, and thicken your neck. Do 3 sets of 12 reps for each exercise, or adjust the number to suit your needs.

Neck flexion

You can do this exercise without equipment, or you can use a four-way neck machine.

  1. Stand up tall with a straight spine.
  2. Slowly bend your head downward.
  3. Try to bring your chin in to touch your chest.
  4. Keep your mouth closed.
  5. Return to the starting position.

Neck lateral flexion

You can do this exercise without equipment. Increase the difficulty by using a resistance band, a partner, or a four-way neck machine.

  1. Stand with correct posture and look straight ahead.
  2. Tilt your head to the side and bring your ear toward your shoulders.
  3. Make sure you keep your shoulders flat throughout the exercise. Don’t lift them.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

Neck extension

Use a four-way neck machine or do this exercise with no equipment.

  1. Press the back of your head backward as you move your chin away from your chest.
  2. Return to the starting position.
  3. From a standing position, turn your head to the side and look over your shoulder.
  4. Keep the rest of your body stable.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
  6. You can use your hand to give resistance.
  7. Stand with your back straight and your chin tucked into your chest.
  8. Drop your shoulders down and back.
  9. Squeeze your shoulder blades as close together as possible.
  10. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  11. Return to the starting position.
  12. Stand tall and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your body.
  13. On an exhale, lift up your shoulders as high as they’ll go.
  14. Hold this position for at least 1 second.
  15. Lower back down to the starting position.

Neck rotation

Shoulder blade squeeze

Dumbbell shrugs

Benefits of neck exercises

Neck exercises can help you to release tension, tightness, and stiffness. They can reduce pain and increase flexibility. A strong neck can help to prevent neck and cervical spine injuries as well.

Researchers in a 2007 study recommended long-term neck muscle training to reduce pain and increase neck muscle strength and range of motion. This allows people with chronic neck pain to experience improved function and less disability.

A 2010 study suggested that people who did neck exercises decreased headache and neck pain. Stretching was most effective when combined with muscle endurance and strength training.

Risks of neck exercises

Overworking or misusing your neck muscles can lead to pain and injury. This can be caused by strained muscles, worn joints, and nerve compression. Make sure the exercises don’t cause or exacerbate pain. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

Take care not to stress or strain when you’re working out your neck. Always use good posture and proper alignment. Use slow, controlled movements to complete the exercises. Go to your own edge and don’t force any movements. You don’t need to work out your neck every day. Give yourself time to rest in between sessions.

When can I expect to see results?

You may start to feel the results before they become visible. You’ll probably be able to attain noticeable results within few weeks or months of consistent exercise. This can depend on factors such as your fitness level, body size, and body fat percentage. The duration and intensity of your workouts can also affect results.

Other ways to build muscle

You can build muscles in other parts of your body by doing strength training. This can be done with no equipment, or you can use resistance tubing, free weights, or weight machines. You can also do weight training or engage in a full-body exercise program.

You may consider taking a supplement such as creatine, whey protein, or beta-alanine. Always check with your doctor before adding supplements, and be sure to obtain them from a trusted source. Check out this beginner’s guide to beta-alanine.

The takeaway

Always speak to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Take it slow and go at your own pace. You can increase the intensity and duration of your neck workout as you progress.

Try to make increasing your neck size a part of a total wellness program.