The following neck workout course was developed by Peary Rader (around 1947). In this course you don’t need any weights. You need your hands and some pressure, that’s it. – Mr. Berg
Build A Man Sized Neck
“We have been much impressed or depressed we should say when attending lifting meets and perfect man contests over the country to note the lack of complete and symmetrical neck development that otherwise perfect men possessed.
We believe this is sometimes more prevalent among perfect men contestants than among lifters because lifting uses the neck muscles rather strenuously in some movements. Especially those in the back of the neck. We are often disappointed when meeting some man famed for his fine physique for the first time in street clothes. Since we can see nothing but his neck ( a part of the body that is always exposed) we sometimes get the impression that he is over-rated because of a scrawny neck.
Of course we must admit that this is not the usual thing with these fellows as most of them realize the importance of a good neck and take the necessary exercise to insure its proper development.
It is thought by some authorities that the reason why wrestlers retain their strength, health and ability to such an extent for an advanced age is because of their heavy neck development and resultant vitality.
It can easily be seen that neck exercises should have a stimulating effect on our mental processes due to the increased flow of blood to brain.
We could go on and on for many pages detailing the value of a super neck but we believe that every reader can see that of all parts of the body the neck is one of the most important to develop to its maximum from a standpoint of health, vitality and appearance. We were particularly impressed with the round, heavy column like neck of Sig Klein when we met him at the recent World Championships. Likewise Clevio Massimo still has a fine neck altho no longer a young man.
While we are on the subject we would like to say a word about the ladies. It is amazing that women give so little attention to proper development of their body in general but especially to their necks. How many beautiful faces have you seen marred by a thin, scrawny neck.
A little attention to a few simple neck exercises could give them beautiful, firm round, coulmn like necks that would add immeasurably to their appearance to say nothing of the improvement the added circulation would make in their complexion.
It has been often stated that the neck, arm and calf should be the same size for ideal proportions. However we don’t agree with this. We feel that the neck should be considerable larger than the arm when properly developed.
George Hackenschmidt who had one of the finest necks ever seen at one time claimed a 22 inch neck and a 19 inch biceps. We must realize that this difference of 3 inches came about because of specialized neck work which brought it up to the maximum size while it is possible that with similar specialized arm work his arm might have reached 20 inches. Today our bodybuilders give terrific specialization to their arms and almost no exercise to the neck with the result that their neck is often smaller than their arms.
One of the most unusual necks we have seen on a barbell man is that of Charlie Richards of Denver. Viewed from the front it looks magnificent. It has great width and is smooth and round.
Another unusual neck is that of Bob Higgins the world’s featherweight champion. His neck is especially large and muscular. There is no noticeable bulge of the muscles at the base of the skull.
Another man with this same bulge tho not so pronounced is Pete George. He has unusually long trapezius muscles as he has quite a long neck. We feel that much of his snatching power comes from their great development and length, giving him a second pull with lots of power.
Lets look at the anatomy of the neck. The accompanying charts show that the musculature is made up of a large number of muscles, all which have their specific duties to perform. However we will concern ourselves with the most important muscles only in this article for by exercising them we also exercise for other lesser muscles. In figure 1 we see a broad sheet of muscles covering the front of the neck. This muscle is called the Platysma Myoides. As you can see, it covers most of the other frontal muscles of the neck and when fully developed it helps to give that roundness to the front of the neck.
It arises from a thin fibrous fascia covering deltoids and pectorals and has most of its insertions in the lower jaw and the skin of the lower face. You can determine its actions by pushing against the hand with the chin with the hand at the same time drawing down the corners of the mouth and skin of the lower face.
Altho a very thin sheet of muscular tissue it is unusually sell developed in wrestlers from resisting choke holds etc. While still looking at Figure No. 1 note the way this muscle covers the lower portion of the important Sterno-Cleido-Mastoid and the Trapezious muscles.
Now notice in Figure No. 2 the Sterno Mastoid muscles that arises from the Sternum (breast bone) and Clavical (collar bone). At its upper end it is inserted (attached) to the mastoid process. This muscle can be developed quite large and you can feel it come strongly into action in pulling the head forward or to the side as well as rotating the head.
On the front of the neck covering the Larnyx we see several small muscles that when fully developed help round out the neck and cover the often prominent “adams apple”.
These muscles not too well shown in the Illustration are called the Sterno Hyoid, the Omo- Hyoid and the Stern-o-Thyroid.
In figure No. 3 as well as Figure No.2 we get a good view of the muscles that give fullness to the back of the neck. On the left side of Fig. No. 3 we see how the trapezius muscle runs up the back of the neck to be attached to the base of the skull or occipital bone. It is evident that the trapezius on such a man as Higgins has a much wider attachment in this location than on the average man thus giving him the fullness at the base of the skull.
On the right side of Fig No. 3 the trapezius is cut away to show the splenius capitis. It arises from the vertebrae of the neck and is inserted in general at the base of the skull.
Its functions are to draw the head back and also to the side and backwards as well as to help slightly in rotating the head. Below this muscle are still more in fact there are five layers of muscles on the back of the neck. However this is enough for us to know about in order to fully develop the neck. Those other small muscles assist the larger ones and are developed by the same movements.
In figure No. 2 you can see some muscles on the sides of the neck between the trapezius and the sternomastoid. They are the scatenus anticus and posticus and levator anguli scapuli. These muscles have the action of assisting in moving the head front, back and to the side and rotating the head.
It will be noted that there are muscles to move the head in all directions. It therefore usually requires quite a number of exercises to thoroughly exercise all the neck muscles. It is a well known fact that wrestlers have the best necks in general although they don’t have the large trapezius that weight lifters have.
Oltho we might class wrestling as the best single neck developer still many fellows can’t indulge in this sport and it is quite possible to develop just as fine a neck with special exercises. It is to be noted that much of the huge neck development of wrestlers is a result of special exercises they take for the neck.
Probably one of the most popular neck exercises is the wrestlers bridge either with or without weight. However altho it is a good exercise it is also easy to cheat by just rocking back and forth on the neck by using the legs instead of the neck for motivation. In performing this exercise always pull and lift with the neck muscles alone.
A similar bridge motion can also be performed for the front of the neck by kneeling on the floor and rolling the head up and down and around in a circle on forehead. This is a good exercise for all muscles on the front of the neck.
I was introduced to this type of exercise by the great “Farmer Burns” who had one of the strongest nad most massive necks for his size of anyone in the world. He used to let himself to be hung from a regulation scaffold without suffering any major trouble. It was from him that we also first learned the valuable self resistance neck exercises.
These are very good developers of the neck and can be applied anywhere and anytime without special equipment. For the back if the neck you simply interface the fingers behind the head then pull forward on the head bringing the chin to the chest while resisting with the neck then pull the neck as far back as possible while resisting with the hands. This really gives the neck muscles a workout over their full range. You can also swing the head in a circle while resisting with the hands and thus work certain of the neck muscles to better advantage.
For the sides of the neck you place the hands against the head above the ear and push the head toward the opposite shoulder while resisting with the neck, then come back with the neck while resisting with the hands. You will soon feel the effects of this one.
For the front of the neck you can place the hand against either the forehead (better use both hands) or against the chin and push the head back while resisting with the neck then pull the head forward until the chin touches the chest again. Make all movements complete over the full range of their action. Most of these movements can be made rotating movements also so as to reach the many different muscles of the neck.
Now in the above exercises will be found the major actions of the neck muscles. It is easy to devise exercises without number to fit these movements. The above exercises, by the way, were favorites of the great Earle Liederman who had a magnificent neck himself. He, like “Farmer Burns”, believes in developing the neck to its maximum. We once heard that the “Farmer” hung by his neck while he gave a 30 minute lecture. This sounds a little extreme to us, but never-the-less his great 18 inch neck at a little over 165 pounds bodyweight was something to behold.
If you workout with a friend you may wish to follow the Program of Charlie Richards and his friend Walter Slaneic. They use the same self resistance movements given above but they provide resistance for each other.
The one taking the exercise lies on a bench with his head hanging over while his partner provides the resistance by pushing against the other’s head. You will have to lay on the sides, back and stomach in turn to exercise the whole neck in this manner.
You can obtain a terrific workout this way. The beauty of these exercises is that you can put on just enough resistance to allow the muscle to slowly contract and as the muscle tires you can relieve some of the resistance, allowing you to do a certain specific number of repetitions.
Most of our readers have a head strap, but few of them use it to any extent. This is a good piece of equipment for developing the neck. You can use the same movements as given above with the head strap. Also if you have wall pulley you can attach the head strap to these and effectively exercise the neck. If you don’t have a head strap, you can make a serviceable one from a towel to which you can tie weights. The head strap can also be used for neck lifting if you have a strong head strap. Teeth lifting is also effective in developing the neck but don’t try it unless you have good teeth and properly constructed mouthpiece to use.
If you have a partner let him take a head lock on you then try to break it by dragging him around, lifting, pulling, and pushing with the neck in all directions against his resistance. This will add considerable interest and competition to your workouts.
As a general rule three workouts per week are enough for neck work. Especially is this true if you take heavy workouts. At first however, you should go rather easy on this neck work or you will find yourself with a very sore neck and sometimes an excess of neck exercise will cause a little soreness of the throat if you are inclined this way. It is better to take your neck work after you are through with your days work as a man’s head has a tendency to bob around on a tied neck. After you have gradually worked into a heavy program you can work the neck as hard as any other part of the body. You will be able to use several sets of each exercise if you are specializing on the neck.
The number of repetitions you should use vary with the individual in neck work the same as they do in other exercises. However the usual number will run from 8 to 15 repetitions. Each individual will find what fives him best results.
Light massage of the neck between sets will help a lot. Always stroke the muscles lightly towards the heart. Use cation as to the speed with which you execute the exercise movements, as it is easy to get a “kink” in the neck by quick, jerky movements.
We realize that new shirts cost money, but we believe that you will find that a large powerful, shapely neck will be well worth it.”