Anyone who has ever been inside the ring recognizes the significance of the neck. It is inevitable that all fighters will eventually get hit. Even the best defense will not deter all incoming shots. With that in mind, a strong neck can certainly help to absorb some of the punishment. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees with this simple notion.
Yet, recognizing the importance of the neck does not always equate to making time to train the neck. Over the years, I have seen countless fighters who disregard the neck entirely. Some complain that they are fearful of bridging and others don’t have a weighted harness to use. Fortunately, if you’ve ever used either excuse, there are other options available.
Neck Training With Resistance Bands
One of the most effective and convenient ways to train the neck is with a resistance band and Velcro strip. As demonstrated below, bands will allow you to train the neck in multiple directions. The bands and Velcro strip are also easily packed in a gym bag. You can train the neck almost anywhere.
As for band resistance, a small or medium band will typically suffice for neck training. It is unlikely that you will outgrow either, as you can always add manual resistance by pulling down on the band when performing the exercise.
The Velcro strip that I use is 30 inches long. It is 2 inches wide and rated as industrial strength. Velcro is easy to find at any hardware or fabric store. A closer image of the setup can be seen below.
When performing this exercise, you may also wish to wear a beanie hat for comfort. Wearing a hat will prevent the Velcro strip from scraping the head.
Resistance bands are not the only option for neck training. Personally, I recommend a varied approach. For example, bridging has always been a favorite of many boxers and wrestlers. In the video below, you can see a young Mike Tyson demonstrate the exercise.
A weighted harness is also useful. The harness seen below is homemade and only cost around $10 to construct.
Manual resistance from yourself or a partner is also an option. As a coach, I typically use a towel to provide resistance in this fashion. The fighter will rest his head off the end of the ring (or a bench). I will then provide resistance by pulling down on a towel that is draped around the fighter’s head. We will work in four directions (facing up, facing down, and each side).
As for frequency, two or three brief neck sessions per week will be adequate in most cases. You don’t need a lot of time to strengthen the neck. Just be sure to gradually ease into neck training if you haven’t done so before.
To conclude, listen to George Chuvalo reiterate the importance of the neck. Chuvalo had one of the best chins ever. And while some of that was natural, he also made a point to develop his neck.
In summary, you probably weren’t born with the same granite chin as George Chuvalo, but you can certainly focus as much time and attention towards improving what you have. There is no excuse to ignore the neck.