Neck Exercises For Wrestlers

Improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury with these specific neck exercises for wrestlers!

neck exercises for wrestlers- an anatomical image of a muscular individual with their neck muscles highlighted

One of the comments that was recently made on my blog was from my old pal and wrestling partner, Rory. Specifically, it was in regards to neck exercises for wrestlers.

He said he is having some issues with the wrestlers he coaches and their ability to maintain a rigid neck while finishing double legs and high crotches. He feels they are losing their drive from brutal cross faces by their opponents.

So this next post will detail how you can strengthen and stabilize your neck.

Here is a video of one of the ways I like to strengthen the area causing the problem.

As you can see, simply choke a band around the bottom of a power rack and run the opposite end up to the side of a neck harness.

From there do your best to simulate the positions that you’re having trouble in.

For example, I’m simulating the position I’d be in after shooting a high crotch and bringing my trail leg up. This is a common place to need neck strength in order to prevent getting cross faced.

If you’re in the market for a neck harness I highly recommend the Troy brand neck harnesses. I’ve used Marc Bartley’s Spud Inc. brand for a while and it’s super high quality.

troy neck harness, a high quality piece of equipment

However, I just started using my buddy’s Troy harness and I’ve personally found it to be a lot more comfortable on my ears.

a man performing neck extensions with a neck harness using about 300 pounds

…and it can obviously handle a lot of weight!

Finally, if you don’t have access to a Troy brand neck harness, placing a towel over your head may help. When I did a search for neck harnesses most of the pictures of people using them were of guys with towels on their heads like this:

a man performing neck extensions with a neck harness

I personally have never tried this, but maybe that’s the solution to my ear pain problems. Either way, give it a shot. It may save you a lot of unnecessary pain on your ears.

Lateral Neck Exercises For Wrestlers

Here’s the same setup I showed with the band, it’s just with a low cable machine.

This can be performed on a lat pulldown/low row machine, one of the adjustable Cable Crossover units, or any other low cable machine that you have access to.

If you don’t have access to any of these options, simply have a partner provide manual resistance as you perform these various neck exercises for wrestlers.

Be creative if you need to be. The big thing is to find a way to get the work in!

Partner Neck Exercises For Wrestlers

One of the most common problems coaches mention to me is they’re unable to find the time to get their team in the weight room. They tell me it takes away too much time from practice.

Finding the right balance can be tough and getting better at wrestling requires you to wrestle. So coming up with options that allow you to be as efficient with your time as possible is the utmost importance for many coaches.

Here’s a form of Manual Resistance that can be applied to strengthening the neck muscles. By utilizing partner resisted exercises like this, you won’t lose a lot of time switching weights, sitting around, etc. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be the case when you put a bunch of high school athletes in a weight room.

With a partner, position yourself just as we are in the video. Have your partner provide a challenging amount of resistance in all 4 directions to your head.

Have him drive against you for the concentric (active portion) and have him resist you as you push him back to the starting position.

The key to getting the best results with this exercise is to have constant tension on your neck so be sure to give your partner feedback throughout.

Using a partner to provide manual resistance is a great, easy way to get neck strengthening done in the wrestling room. But, it’s not the only way to build neck strength and stability.

Stabilization Neck Exercises For Wrestlers

One of the major keys to a program for wrestlers is stabilization!

Think about it- when it comes to getting cross faced, does it matter how much weight you can move with your neck? Or is it more important to have a neck that’s able to stabilize against your opponent?

**On a side note, a lot of people may not realize this, but the function of the core in wrestling is primarily to stabilize. To read a detailed post on how the core fires to stabilize and the best ways to train it- Exercises for Wrestlers- Core Strength and Stability.

…Now don’t get me wrong, strength and stabilization go hand in hand.

If you have a pencil neck and can’t move 10lbs with one of the lateral variations I posted above, there’s only so much force from a cross face that you’re going to be able to stabilize against.

So how do you train your neck to stabilize?

This next video is a great way to initially train stabilization.

Get into a referees position and have your partner push your head in different directions. Your goal is simply to stabilize against the unpredictable pattern of your partner.

This is a great way to build a base of stability. However, once you’re ready, feel free to move up and really build functional stabilization in your neck…

Serious Stability Neck Exercises For Wrestlers

As I’ve mentioned, a lot of the time you train your body to build strength and power doing active/dynamic movements (lifts that require motion). But, you also need to spend time training certain muscle groups to fire the way that they need to on the mat.

After all, that’s one of the best ways you can take the strength you build in the weight room and transform it into functional strength when you’re on the mat.

Yes, there is a need to have strength in your neck to drive into opponents when shooting, look away and resist various half nelson and cradle attempts, and bridge when you’re on your back.

But you also need your neck to be able to stabilize against your opponent.

Think about when you’re hand fighting and trying to set up a takedown.

How often is there pressure from your opponent on your head via a collar tie?

It happens a lot, right?

Well, that’s where neck stability comes into play. The more stable your neck is, the less effective your opponent is going to be with trying to move you around.

Here’s the second way I like to build neck stability in the wrestlers I work with.

This is a bit more challenging and requires a very strong neck, especially when your partner performs pushups in front of you with both hands on your head.

Consider having your partner start on his knees for the pushups. That way you don’t get all of the force right off the bat. If you can appropriately stabilize, then have them perform pushups from their feet.

Finally, for some more great neck exercises for wrestlers, check out this post by my buddy and fellow wrestling strength coach, John Gaglione.


Hopefully this post gives you some ideas on how to strengthen and stabilize your neck for wrestling (specifically for lateral pressure).

But, if you have any questions regarding these neck exercises for wrestlers please leave me a comment below.

Related Posts:

Neck Strength Research And How To Use It

Prevention Of Common Wrestling Injuries

Special Considerations For Designing Programs

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

Want to see what other wrestlers are saying about my training system? Check out my Success Stories page.


Want to learn more about Dickie? Check out my About page.


Want to get started on a program today? Read this post and download your free program- 12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers.


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