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Getting ‘Ahead’ In Neck Training

Training The Head Musculature

There are two classifications of neck muscles.  The muscles that move the head and the muscles that move the cervical spine.  To fully strengthen and protect an athlete a coach must address both regions.

Once athletes learn how to strength train the head, as well as, the neck you will be amazed at the gains.  Exercising in 4 directions on a 4 or 5 way neck machine or doing manual resistance is extremely important, but by adding the training of the cranial cervical area to your program neck size and strength skyrockets.

Pendulum Machine

Just below the back of the head (occiput) is called the occipital shelf and this is the location of the posterior suboccipital muscles.  These muscles are the prime movers that extend your head approximately 25 degrees.  To exercise this region on the Pendulum Neck Machine have the athlete look directly up with his or her eyes and simultaneously lift the chin when moving into head extension.  The suboccipital muscles will immediately begin to contract once the eyes move skyward, this phenomena is called co-ordination.


Coach Gabe Harrington at Colgate University uses the occipital shelf landmark in coaching his athletes.  Coach Harrington makes sure they are targeting the posterior suboccipital muscles by palpating the area.  Each lifter knows exactly what he or she is targeting.

Pendulum Machine

Though 25 degrees is rather a small range of motion the exercise will feel dramatic to the athlete.  The suboccipital muscles are extremely important in balance, as well as, keeping the head stable when the neck muscles are contracted.  These muscles help protect the athlete during a collision and improve athleticism.

Set the selector pin in the fourth hole on the Pendulum Cam.  Look up and extend the head 25 degrees to Get Strong.

Pendulum Machine



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