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Chanchal Rani

GB Neck Strength - A Missing Piece?!

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Chanchal Rani

Hi I ve just started my gymnastics bodies training three months ago I m really feeling great, but I ve an issue, I have a very weak pencil neck which causes me trouble I feel that this body part is getting neglected, do you have any routine which concentrate on neck strength that would be great or any advice that would be really helpful

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Alessandro Mainente

Hi Chanchal, personally i developed a very good neck by training the handstand program especially the headstand progression.

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Jakob Gustav Olsson

Hi, 

in GST there's always a big focus on full body tension from head to toes with every exercise to strengthening the whole body at the same time. 

So even if it's not stated within an exercise there's most likely an strengthening effect for the neck muscles if the correct alignment is used. 

For example, Hollow Body Hold versions require you to tuck your shin slightly, strengthening the front neck musculature. The sister exercise to Hollow will be Arch Body Hold, which strengthening the back muscles of the neck if you try to look at the wall in front of you. Side Plank versions will take care of the side musculatures of the neck if you focus to align the neck with the rest of the body. This strengthening effect for the neck will hold true for almost any exercise in the GB system as long the exercise is focusing on body positions.

For mobility/flexibility the stretch courses will take care of neck too even if it's not the main focus. 

Middle Split focus on the side of the body (neck), Front Split on the back of the body and Bridge will focus on thoracic extension but that will also include neck extension. 

It's also a lot of mobility/strength exercises in the GB system for the upper back that strengthen the neck. 

To add something, maybe daily neck circles (slow) for now. 

Maybe your neck is a bit more deconditioned than the rest of your body and needs a bit more time to catch up. So don't add in to much extra work for the neck just yet, and if you do be careful to not overdo it. 

If you still have some problems with the neck after a month or two I have a good mobility sequence I can share. 

Btw, how's your sleeping position, in regards to your neck!? 

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Jakob Gustav Olsson

Maybe, BUT not really!

First a bit about the neck. In general the neck tends to be one of the most problematic areas for people, generating stiffness and pain.

On top of the neck you carrying an heavy object all day long, every day ,ie. your head. It needs to be strong. Besides that, the neck needs coordination and control in order to help us walk, react to unexpected surprices or even look to the side. Pretty important tasks. So we need a combo of strength/mobility and control.  

So why don´t GB focuses more on specific neck exercises? Well, they already do! Foundation is the recommended work for everyone, including the stretch series and HS course.

In the Foundation courses and GST in general there´s always a priority on body positions. In most cases those body shapes is either in an Hollow/Arch/folded/extended position.

Hollow shapes for example will have an strengthening effect on the front neck musculature if the right alignment for that particular exercise is used (could be either a Bent Hollow Body Hold or a Front Lever, while also for that movement chain working on neck extension with the Bridge progressions). Everytime an Arch shape is being utilized there will be an strengthening effect for the back neck musculature because the whole spine should be in an arch position. Another example is the Jefferson Curl who work on neck mobility before starting to curl with t-spine. It´s an strengthening effect for the neck side muscles from the easier Side Plank versions to the more demanding Side Lever, and those iM for that chain will take care of side/rotation mobility for the neck. That´s just some exemples.

The stretch courses will include work for your neck both on the aspect of strengthening and mobilizing.

Bridge stretch will take care of neck extension, Front Splits focus on folding the body will work neck flexion. Middle Split stretches will work side neck flexion to some extent and when the Side Pancake stretch gets more into the andvanced stages it will work neck rotation.

And it´s easy to forget that neck strenghtening/mobilizing will also be a BIG part of strengthening/mobilizing the shoulder, upper back and scapula area, and in regards to that, GB system deliver big time.

The HS course will also be great neck work.

I noticed though in the forum that some extra neck strengthening would be helpful.

I believe it could, but maybe not for the same reason, not for strengthening per se but for allowing more mobility. If the neck is weak, it will protect you from increased ROM.

If care be taken about to get into the correct shapes for the exercises, strength will come.

But in the beginning face of GST it´s quite hard to get into those positions without extra attention to increase strength/stability/mobility around the neck so you can exercise in the correct positions. After that, neck strength will be a byproduct of GST training.

If there´s an interest in this piece, I´ll share a routine that I like to use?!

One final thing,

what´s your sleeping positions like (8h in bed, could break even the best neck routine out there!)?.

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Coach Sommer

Hi Jakob,

Great idea.  Looking forward to seeing an easier neck routine.

For my own athletes, I simply included 1x10r of wrestler limbers as a part of their daily warmup.  A wrestler limber is a no handed bridge supported by the top of the head and feet that kicks back and forth over the top.  However these seemed a bit extreme for the general public.

Yours in Fitness,
Coach Sommer

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Alan Tseng

I believe professional  race car drivers (Formula 1 etc.) have the best neck strengthening programs.  When driving, their entire body is secured besides their necks.  Then imagine driving 100+ mph on corners while resisting movement of their neck AND then imagine how much a professional racing helmet weighs :)

I learnt a lot about neck strength googling/YouTube how drivers train their necks.  I personally use a neck harness and attach the harness to cable machine (in gym) or resistance cords (at home) using a carabiner.  I then do a set of 10r - neck retraction, flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation (I kind of use a little hand assistance since sometimes the harness doesn’t rotate well for neck rotation).  Help me significantly in decreasing my neck issues.

On a side note, watching professional drivers train, a really interesting exercise I found for the forearms is holding a weighted plate in front of you while rotating it with full ROM - like a weighted steering wheel!

 

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Jakob Gustav Olsson

Alan, 

about that side note of yours, that's an commenly used mobility drill in gymnastic circles as well. 

Race car drivers have of course very high demands on neck strength for safety reason but even more so for another reason. To get increased stability which translates into quicker reaction for them. That could be the difference of first place in the race or second. 

 

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Jakob Gustav Olsson

Here's the routine I use myself,

 

 

Don't overdo it, start with once a week. Could be fitted in nicely as a warmup before the Bridge stretch serie.

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