As I talked about in a recent article, having a strong neck is super important in jiu-jitsu because it helps prevent injury, makes it harder for you opponent to break your posture and choke you, and allows you to use your head offensively as a fifth limb.
Essentially there are three directions that you need to strengthen your neck:
- Forwards and Backwards
- Side to Side (ear to shoulder left and right)
- Rotationally (turning clockwise and counter-clockwise)
In an ideal world you would do different exercises, or combinations of exercises, to strengthen your neck in each of these directions.
But time is limited and no one tool does it all, so if I could only choose one direction I would choose first strengthening the back of the neck.
This is because in modern society we spend a TON of time slumped over our computers, tablets and phones, with our faces forever angled downwards, with the end result that back of our necks keep getting stretched out and weaker.
Think of how you need to keep your head up to prevent your opponent from tightening a triangle choke…
Or to stop him from breaking your posture and pulling you down into the closed guard.
Or even how hard it would be to do a barbell squat if you were looking down at the floor as you struggled under a heavy weight.
You’ve got to have a strong neck to maintain strong posture.
Some people recommend neck bridging – it’s effective but I don’t like it. If your neck is finicky and already prone to injury then the compressive load can definitely make things worse.
Which brings me to my favorite tool for this purpose: the neck harness.
There are many types of neck harnesses, and even though some look like they belong in a BDSM shop I’m a big fan of using them strengthen the neck.
People were recently asking me about how exactly to use these sorts of harnesses, so I shot a video covering the do’s and the don’ts of neck harness neck strengthening.
That video is right here:
P.S. I went through a long hunt, trying out tons of different neck harnesses with the goal of finding something that was bombproof, easy to adjust, and also comfortable.
That was a difficult – I just couldn’t find the perfect one, so eventually I designed my own. If you’re interested, that harness is now available on Amazon.com.
Because it’s made of thick leather, steel and padding it’s definitely NOT the cheapest model out there, but it is the most solid and comfortable one I have ever used.