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Measuring Neck Circumference

Mike Joseph is the Director of Strength and Conditioning at the West Virginia University.  Head and Neck training is an important part of the Mountaineers strength program.  Darl Bauer is the Assistant Director, he gives us some insight into taking measurements of neck circumference in monitoring their program.  Darl explains… I measure once a month and have found that it is a great motivational tool, athletes love it when their hard work shows up with an increased neck size. 

West Virginia Neck Program

I have found even though I do the very best at measuring the exact same point each time that certain measurements seem to be flawed by my own human error.  Either I have pulled too tight, or not enough, or the athlete has flexed at the last second, something you must always control.

Neck Recording          Neck Records             Neck Records

If an athlete has lost fat their neck size may get smaller even though they are gaining strength.  For an athlete losing circumference it is upsetting and no coach wants their player to feel that their training program doesn’t work, my response is always the same…”Are you moving more weight?  Then your neck is getting stronger.”  And if you are less fat then the results are doubly great! Gaining strength and losing fat is the message that must be relayed to the athlete.

When you measure athletes early in the morning and then measure them in the afternoon the results may be completely different (up to a quarter inch higher). We dehydrate in our sleep and when we eat, what we eat, what activity we have done, and assessment accuracy all come into play.  Measuring the same time every day is ideal, but not in the collegiate setting.

I basically give a +/- .25 inches discretion to the measurements.  If they gain more than .25 inches then I consider that a substantial gain.  If they lose more than .25 inches than I consider that substantial loss and I put them on a ‘high-risk’ list, where they are required to do supplemental neck training on top of our current ‘Neck/Trap/Scap’program.  It has worked very well.

Tracking circumference is a tremendous motivator and tool to assess your program and your athletes progress.  Train their head and neck musculature and Get  and keep them Strong.

neck machines Pendulum 4-Way Head and Neck Machines


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