Anatomically, the neck consists of three main muscles. The sternocleidomastoid muscles run diagonally across the front of the neck. In the back part, you have the levator scapulae and upper trapezius. Thickening these neck muscles can help keep the spine more protected, and it can also make a fit body look even more aesthetically appealing. You can achieve this look by doing several different exercises.
When doing an extension, you move your neck backward. This action, with the help of added resistance, can thicken the muscles on the back of your neck. Lie face down on a bench with your shoulders slightly over the edge. Hold a weight plate on the back of your head with both hands and lower your head downward. Lift your head up as far as you can. Slowly lower it back down. You may also do this exercise without adding resistance by omitting the weight plate.
When you flex your neck, it bends forward. To do this, lie face up on the bench and hold a weight plate to your forehead with your hands. Your shoulders should be slightly over the edge at this point. Tilt your head back slowly. Lift it up, and tuck your chin in toward your chest. Reverse the motion and repeat.
Static holds are performed by using your hands for resistance. Sit or stand with your gaze fixed in front of you. Place one hand on your forehead and push your head forward. Resist this action with your hand and feel your neck muscles contracting. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds and release. Place your right hand on the right side of your head and apply pressure into it for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat the same action with your hand on the back of your head and on the left side.
To perform shrugs, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold dumbbells down at your sides with your palms facing in. Keep your arms straight and lift your shoulders up in the air. Squeeze for a second. Slowly lower the weights back down. Repeat. You can also use a barbell held in front of your body for this exercise.
Upright rows are an exercise that can be executed with the aid of a barbell. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the bar with an overhand close grip -- approximately 12 inches. Pull the bar up in front of your body until it is at the height of your chest. Slowly lower it back down and repeat. You can also perform this exercise with dumbbells.
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