Perhaps you’ve seen your favorite boxing and Muay Thai World Champions do crazy neck strengthening exercises. You’re probably wondering – why would they need to do that and does it really have to be so extreme? Although it hasn’t been scientifically proven, many boxing coaches agree that a strong neck will help a boxer withstand a knockout punch. In Muay Thai, fighters strengthen their necks and jaws to prevent knockouts as well as to stop their neck from being cranked down in the clinch. Since your neck provides support for your cervical spine, your skull, and your brain inside that, your neck muscles undoubtedly need to be strong, especially if you partake in combat sports.
How A Strong Neck Could Help Prevent A Knockout
When you get hit flush on the chin with enough force, your entire neck rotates at an accelerated pace causing your brain to bounce around in your skull, also known as a concussion. In layman’s terms, when your head jerks in a certain direction quickly, your brain slams into your skull. With a strong neck, you would be able to withstand the impact of a strong punch, as the rotation is minimized.
How A Strong Neck Helps In the Clinch
To control the fight, your opponent will try to crank your head down in the clinch so he/she can land his/her knees or throw you. With a strong neck, you will be able to keep your head upright as you fight off your opponent trying to snap your neck down. Neck strength will also help you pull your neck up after its been cranked down, preventing your opponent’s attacks from landing.
Here are some neck strengthening exercises you could use in boxing/Muay Thai:
The simplest of all the neck strengthening exercises, as you can probably guess, it consists of slowly moving your head to signal “yes” (up and down), “no” (rotate left and right), and “maybe” (incline left and right). Slowly increase your range of movement after each round – the more you practice this, the less tension you’ll feel in your neck too!
2) Neck harness
Perhaps the most hardcore of all the neck strengthening exercises, using a neck harness usually utilizes a medieval-looking weighted contraption with chains. Multiple-time Boxing World Champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Petchboonchu FA Group have used this to build muscles in their neck.
In Muay Thai, fighters tie weights on the end of a towel or rope and bite down on it, raising their head up and down to work the neck.
3) Neck plate curls
This exercise works the neck flexion, the movement in which the chin is lowered to the chest. You should only use weights that you can hold comfortably against the back of your head or on your forehead.
Usually utilized by wrestlers, bridging is a great way to build strength in your neck. Not only does it work on your neck muscles, it also works on your abs, legs, and hips.
There’s no doubt that a strong neck would give you an advantage in boxing and Muay Thai. The stronger one’s neck is, the more punishment he/she can withstand. With that being said, it is still more important for a fighter to work on his/her defense – his/her neck should not be a substitute.