If you are looking to compete in the sport of boxing, the one thing you should do is prepare your body to be able to withstand your opponent’s blows. Even the slickest boxers get cracked on occasion, and the threat of a KO is always present.
On top of this, many coaches tend to overlook the importance of training the neck, focusing instead on other muscle groups to help with punching power. Boxing is not all about how hard you can hit; it can also come down to how good you can take a punch.
Being rocked occasionally is inevitable, but the reason why top-level boxers are able to endure is not only down to their chin but also their necks. A strong neck allows you to better absorb punches. Today, Evolve Daily presents five neck strengthening exercises for boxing.
1) Head Weight Exercises
These are probably the simplest neck exercises you can do. First, you need to lie on your back with your head hanging off a surface. From this position, nod your head up and down, keeping your chin as close to your chest as possible throughout the movements.
After ten of these, nod your head side to side as though you re disagreeing with someone for another ten. Lastly, tilt your head from side to side, all whilst staying on your back. After you have done ten of each, rest for around a minute and repeat another two or three times.
2) Dumbbell Shrug
The dumbbell shrug is probably the most used exercise on this list. Doing shrugs will benefit not just your neck muscles but also the upper back and shoulders. All you need to do is stand up holding two dumbbells at your sides and lift your shoulders as high as possible, then slowly lower them back down. Depending on how heavy the weights you’re using are, generally, you want to aim for around 10 reps spread out over three to five sets.
3) Neck Crunches
Lay on your back and sit your head up as if doing a stomach crunch using only your neck, keeping your back flat on the floor. When you lower your head try not to let it touch the floor until your set is complete, doing so will make the muscles work that little bit harder.
4) Neck Harness
A neck harness straps around your head and allows you to add weights to the chain. From a seated position, the weights should hang between your legs. From here, simply move your head up and down very slowly as if you are agreeing with someone.
You can also lie on your back with your head hanging over the edge of a surface and do these in reverse to strengthen the front of the neck. It is better to use lighter weights and just do more reps than going heavy.
Another alternative to this is to wrap a cloth around light weights and bite down on the cloth, as opposed to having the harness around your head. This option is cheaper than buying a harness, and biting down on the cloth will help to strengthen your jaw. With or without the harness, you should aim to do 3 – 5 sets of these once or twice a week.
5) Neck Bridges
Lie on your back, take a big breath, and raise up onto your neck, holding for around 30 – 60 seconds. Once you get better at this, you can begin to incorporate small circles with your head, activating many tiny muscles in your neck. It is recommended that you place your hands on the floor, either side of your head to add some stability. The neck bridge is more advanced and is something you should work on only when your neck is already strong.
Make no mistake about it, your boxing defense is still your number one priority, and you should focus the majority of your efforts learning how to avoid being punched in the first place. However, incorporating these exercises into your weekly training program will strengthen your neck.
Oh, and always remember – neck strengthening exercises shouldn’t last any longer than 5 – 10 minutes, so don’t overdo it.