Neck Exercise: Stability Ball Warmup/Workout | Neck Strength
A big MISTAKE a lot of grapplers make is going straight for the hard neck exercises, or even dynamic ones like bridging, before doing the basics.
You gotta warm up those muscles BEFORE you train! And you gotta build up your neck muscles and develop a solid base of neck strength BEFORE you start going for the more advanced neck exercises.
Even just a couple extra minutes of direct neck work before you get on the mats is better than NOTHING.
I wouldn’t even think of stepping on the mats to train without DIRECTLY warming up my neck! Now, this is coming from someone who’s had a serious neck injury and has been through major neck surgery. And one of the best ways to PREVENT neck injuries, even the little ‘kinks’, is to directly warm up your neck EVERY SINGLE TIME you hit the mats.
If you’ve been going to practice or training without first warming up, then NOW is the time to start. Even if it’s just a couple minutes, then you can gradually work your way up.
So here’s another exercise you can work on, and you don’t have to lie on the mat to do it.
I like this both for a warm-up and for a workout.
For this one I like to use one of those big stability/exercise balls. You really don’t need one though. You can use a folded up towel, t-shirt, your gi, basically whatever will give you some padding. BUT – I recommend using a stability ball, a rubber exercise ball or anything that has a little bit of give to it. One of my “Neck Training Secrets For Grapplers” ezine subscribers, Antoine M. from Switzerland, said he uses a kids beach ball and likes it even more than the stability ball; so you can try that too (thanks Antoine!).
Simply stand up against the wall, place whatever you’re using for padding at head-level, and put your forehead on the padding. Now just slowly push your head forward into the padding as you breathe, and as your neck gets stronger you can start leaning more of your body weight into it (just be careful you don’t slip and fall).
You can do short contractions or longer contractions, where you push up until your neck gets really tired. You won’t be able to get as many reps with the longer ones, but either one works well. I recommend trying both; I do both versions depending on how I’m feeling that day. Great isometric muscle work is involved with these.
For the back of your neck, just place the back of your head against the padding and press back with your head so you feel your neck muscles contract. You can hold for a long count, relax for a second or two, then do it again until you reach your desired amount of reps.
Same thing for the sides of your neck. Because you’ll be facing your side, you might want to use a little more padding to take up some more space so you won’t have to lean into it as much (because of your shoulders – that’s why I like to use the big stability ball for these, especially the sides).
I recommend trying out this exercise before you train to see how it feels. Do all for sides (front, back, left side, right side), then take a little break before starting your next set (if you’re going to do more than one set).
Do as many sets and reps as you feel comfortable doing, and if you feel any pain, stop immediately. I recommend doing 1 to 3 sets of 10 reps each side, then gradually work your way up.
Start out slow, and keep things nice and easy, because remember, it may seem easy, maybe even a little ‘too easy’ while you’re doing these exercises, but if you’re new to training your neck and you’ve never done these before, you can expect to be a little sore. Don’t try to kill yourself in the beginning–just work to build up your strength and stay consistent with your training.
So give that one a try and let me know what you think!
I’ll post a video of this routine soon!
Remember: you can always submit your questions to me about neck strength training and conditioning by simply dropping me an email or replying back to any email I send you (just write “Question” in the subject line).
Protect your neck!
Coach James Kelly
P.S. I’m excited to see how much stronger your neck gets after using these tips (I have a lot more coming). So thanks again for trusting in me enough to give this neck training stuff a try. I’ll be working my butt off to give you as much value as I can because I know how important neck training is, especially for combat athletes like you.
*** This information is not given as medical advice or treatment. Always consult a physician before starting any physical fitness program. Safety should always be your first concern.