Mike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time. He explains, “The King is Dead, Long Live the King.”
The Barbell Squat has been dubbed the King of all exercises. CrossFit enthusiasts argue and say the King is not the barbell squat, but the high repetition air squat or free body squat and others claim the one legged squat is King. For most coaches the barbell squat throughout the years has remained the King of all exercises.
This concept of the pontification of the barbell squat has been handed down from gym to gym, school to school, and from coach to coach for decades. The truth is the King is Dead when it comes to contact sports. Without question the King of all exercises is the Neck Machine.
The neck is the most valuable part of our structure. It protects the brain. Therefore without question an exercise that trains the musculature of the cervical spine and head is the most important thing that can be done by any athlete.
The head and neck should not be treated as warm-up exercises that are done before strength training begins nor should this important body part be classified as pre-hab.
The muscles of the cervical spine are to be trained as a system. Training the sides of the neck one day, front and back another, and another day shrugging is side stepping when designing a program. A training program should be approached in exactly the opposite way. We should write down our neck exercise routine and then fit in all other desired exercises around neck training.
If there is only time for one exercise it must be the neck. If you have to eliminate the abs, the bench press, the lower back or even the Barbell Squat to make time for neck training in your program… then do it.
We must protect our athletes and lower subconcussive forces FIRST. This is not an argument it is being sensible, responsible and it means doing the right thing.
Record every repetition of neck work that you do. If neck training is important to you, it will be important to your team.
Change your record boards to include neck training and place the results above the barbell squat.
The King is Dead, Long Live the King of Exercises……Neck Training.