High levels of respiratory muscle work must be sustained throughout heavy exercise or will cause respiratory muscle fatigue. There is competition for the limited available cardiac output which is divided among all the skeletal muscles during whole body exercise. Increasing or decreasing the work of breathing has a reciprocal effect on blood flow in the exercising legs. Injure or develop neck muscles and your body’s athleticism will be affected negatively or positively.
The respiratory system’s process of inspiration and expiration involves much more than the diaphragm and the internal and external intercostal muscles. The scalene muscles in the neck are involved in almost every breath we take. The platysma and sternocleidomastoid are involved in heavy breathing. Developing these muscles and keeping them strong is important in fitness and overall health.
To maximize development of the head and neck leverage must be managed. We often use our traps and torso to accelerate and decelerate weight in strength training, either consciously or unconsciously, interfering with muscular growth.
When exercising the scalene muscles against a load on a neck machine it is difficult to have lateral flexion of the head and neck without lateral flexion of the spine accompanied by some rotation. This use of leverage is simply how our structures move as we contract our muscles.
Lateral neck flexion is approximately a 40 degree movement. Strength training in a seated position has been found to have the greatest electrical activity. In the targeted musculature to initially address leverage and correct form, place the neck face pad in hole #4 on the Pendulum cam. The lifter, using a strength band, dowel or PVC pipe holds the chosen implement overhead.
The trainees goal is to keep the pipe as close to parallel to the floor as possible while exercising lateral neck flexion negating leverage. When the exercise begins the pipe may tilt a few degrees during the movement as the torso begins to flex - which is normal.
The individual trains several weeks with the acquired posture. Once picture perfect form is obtained and the weight has been increased the athlete understands how it feels to train lateral neck flexion with the desired motion. Accomplished, the trainee alters his or her style when seated laterally by holding on to the back of the bottom of the seat pad with one hand, and the front handle of the pad with the other. Using both arms to stabilize the trunk and holding the shoulders down firmly the lifter depresses the traps, not allowing them to assist in the motion. Lateral neck flexion with the acquired form now becomes the incredible neck developer that it is.
Lateral Neck Flexion