How to build strong neck muscles

Updated April 17, 2017

Building strong neck muscles not only helps you increase strength and gain lean muscle mass, but it also improves your posture. With proper posture you can help prevent or even completely avoid muscle strains and other injuries to the neck, shoulders and upper back. It can even help you prevent disk bulges and arthritis. Certain exercises can help you build strength in your neck muscles and are well worth adding into your existing workout routine.

Rotate your head in a circular motion, starting by facing your head to one side and rolling your head in a semicircle around to the other side. Hold this position for a moment, then rotate your head back to the other side to complete one full head rotation. Stand for this exercise and keep your shoulders down and back.

Lie down on a flat bench or on the floor on your stomach, and place your hands behind your head. Raise your head up and back slowly, as far as comfortable, until you feel a light stretching in your neck. Add intensity to this exercise by holding a barbell plate on the back of your head during the exercise.

Stand straight up with your head straight, facing forward. Slowly draw your head back, pulling your chin down slightly, without actually tilting your head backward. Your eye level should remain pretty much the same throughout this exercise. You should feel a slight stretch in the front of your neck. This exercise, known as a neck retraction, helps build strength in the neck and also prevents you from slouching your shoulders and poking your head too far forward.

Stand straight up with your head straight, facing forward. Tilt your head to the side slowly, moving your ear toward your shoulder until you feel a slight stretch in the side of your neck. Hold in this position for a few seconds, then bring your head back to the starting position and repeat to the other side to complete one full side flexion exercise.

Stand straight with your head facing forward, both hands placed palms down on the back of your head. Move your head slowly in a backward motion, while pushing forward slightly with your hands at the same time. This creates resistance, and this neck rotational resistance exercise works all posterior neck muscles.


If at any point while performing exercises you start to feel lightheaded or dizzy, reduce the intensity of the exercises or sit down and take a short break. If you are new to exercise, you might want to head to your local gym to have a personal trainer instruct you on how to properly perform the exercises first, to prevent injury. Continue performing the neck strengthening exercises along with your regular exercises to maintain strong neck muscles.

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About the Author

In 2000 Diana Prince began writing as a journalist for the school newspaper. Later, she took on a lead writing job at a locally published newspaper. Her work has appeared in various magazines and online publications. She has a degree in cosmetology, a certification in personal training and nutrition and holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and journalism from McMaster University.