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08 July 2013

Why "Your Head Is Fucking Tiny" Is The Greatest Compliment You'll Ever Receive, Part 2


Every time I've had a picture taken of myself in the last couple of years, I've heard from my friends that I have a tiny head.  Not Beetlejuice tiny, but damn small in comparison to my body.  Most of that, it seems was attributed to the size of my neck, which while not superhuman certainly isn't the pipe cleaner most guys seem to have holding up their heads.  I've already outlined the myriad ways I've built my neck over the years, but it stands to reason one might need a bit more variety than I offer.  Unlike most people, I'm perfectly content to eat the same two things day in and day out, do the same lifts (by and large) and endlessly repeat the same Groundhog Day-esque life of wake, fuck, work, train, fuck, watch Top Gear UK, fuck, sleep day in and day out for years- clearly, variety is not the spice of my life.

As an FYI, pegging is a bad idea if done before your workout on squat day.

Clearly, the first place to start when looking at big necks would be wrestlers.  Known since time immemorial for having necks that more closely resembled tree trunks than normal human soft tissue anatomy, wrestlers focused on neck training out of necessity- it's hard to win a match when your opponent can smash your teeth out on the ground by leaning on you a bit.  The Greeks were known for their heavy musculature and obsession with training to physical perfection, so there's little point in investigating their methods- when they weren't lifting or wrestling, they were stomping around Europe wearing helmets that weighed almost twenty pounds.  As such, they'd basically have a neck as thick as their thigh or their head would fall the fuck off every other Wednesday.  In the interest of finding out what guys who weren't literally forced to rock huge necks, we have to look to India, current land of the 11" neck and the 44" waistline on a 150lb man.

As this pic of tiger Daula indicates, Indian wrestlers seem to have such giant heads and bodies that even a 20 inch neck looks "normal" on them.

The greatest of all Indian wrestlers is pretty much universally acknowledged to be the Great Gama.  Gama ran a mile every day with a 120 lb stone ring around his neck, then did his traditional bridging movements to build his neck further.  While Gama can't be used as an example of a typical pehlwan due to the fact that no one ever watched his workout from start to finish (due to their extreme length- Gama trained harder and longer than anyone had the patience to watch), his neck isn't terribly atypical of what you'd see in pehlwan at the height of Indian wrestling preeminence (Alter).  As a general rule, however, Indian wrestlers performed dhakuli, in which you begin in a kneeling position in a wrestling pit. From there, you lean forward and place your head on the ground, and then shift your weight to your head, driving it into the ground. At that point, you do a quick headstand, then twist so you land on your knees facing the opposite direction.  This builds massive neck strength, as well as balance.  To further build their necks, Indian wrestlers also performed the basic neck bridge I outlined in the previous entry.  Rather than add weight, however, Indian wrestlers typically added resistance by arching and then rolling from the back of their head to their forehead, switching from a back to a front arch, stepping over one leg so that they rotate in a circle around the axis of their head.


While all of that is well and good, most of us really don't give a fuck what people who wipe their ass with their left hand have to say about much of anything, much less lifting.  That said, I decided to get some neck training tips from a man who lives in a slightly more first world section of the worst of the third world.  Terence Mitchell is the owner and proprietor of Off The Grid Athletic in an unpronounceable city in South Africa.  Interestingly, Terence's gym is one of the nicest I've ever seen, something you'd not expect on the "dark continent".  Putting it to full use, Terence has taken time out of his busy deadlifting and overhead pressing schedule (Terence has the worst mental barrier to a 605 deadlift anyone's ever seen and has been training deads like a maniac as a result) to do a shitload of neck, and is currently rocking a 19" neck at a bodyweight of 200 lbs. Given that his neck's incredibly large for someone so light, I asked him for a little insight into his neck workouts.  As it happens, his approach is pretty similar to my own- just like Nick Manning in a porn shoot, we hit it hard, heavy, and with a shitload of volume.  Terence's favorite two neck exercises are neck harness extensions and weighted neck crunches, which he has been doing twice a day, six days a week of late.  Consistency is key to success in his opinion, as are high reps and extremely strict form- he busts out 100 reps of each exercise in each neck workout using 25kg for sets of 50 reps on the neck harness and a 45lb plate for 50 reps on plate raises. He worked up to that weight and volume, so start with a weight you can get for 50 reps and go up from there.

Piri Piri Plate Crunches
Don't turn these into some "weird crunchie bullshit", Terence cautions- that shit will get nothing done.  Instead, make each rep slow and controlled without any stomach or arm contraction to move the weight.

Cape Dutch Neck Harness Extensions
The key on extensions is to "squash the bug" on your upper chest with your chin, then get a full contraction and contemplate the ceiling for a moment.  

If Terence's small neck apartheid isn't to your liking, you've still got a shitload of weighted neck training options.  You could try my ultra-simple option with an ab strap and a cable crossover or lat pulldown machine, or try one of Steve Helmicki's options, which as you are about to see are more numerous than lesions on the inside of a Transnistrian prostitute's pussy.  Bear in mind that while I fixed glaring errors and formatting, these are his words, not mine (Helmicki, pp. 14-19)
Lids- Using a flat bench, attach jump stretch band around the pad so there is adequate tension when lying down and placing the band on the forehead while lying flat on your back.  Reverse and lying on your stomach attach the band to the back of the head.
Kettlebell Teeth Swings Back to Front- Using daisy chains or any strong nylon strap that can be cinched around the kettlebell with the opposite end in between the teeth, swing the kettlebell from bottom (hanging between the legs to an upward position fully extending the neck.
Kettlebell Teeth Swing Side to Side- Place daisy chain or nylon end that is affixed to a kettlebell inbetween teeth and in a bent over position swing the kettlebell in a controlled manner from side to side.(chin moving in the direction of the shoulder)

Neck Harness with Kettlebell- Attach kettlebell to harness and perform extension and flexion.
Neck Harness Plate Loaded- Attach plates to harness or loading pin and perform extension and flexion.
Neck Harness with Bands Attached to Feet- Place band under toes for back and under heels for front. Perform extension and flexion. Be sure to adequately secure the band under the shoe to prevent slippage.
Neck Harness with Bands attached parallel- Attach the band on a power rack or very secure object at face level and perform extension and flexion.
Neck Harness with Cable- Attach cable from above, below or parallel and perform extension and flexion.
Isometrics-place head against power rack, partner leg or any stationary object and push maximally for ten seconds front, back and sides of head.
Face Plate Raises- Place plate on forehead/nose area and extend head past the edge of a flat bench lower and raise in a controlled manner steadying the plate with the trainee’s hands but allowing the neck muscles to perform the work.
Neck Harness Squat- Place weight between the legs and attach it to the neck harness with enough slack that when the weight is on the ground the trainee can achieve an arched squat position. Squat the weight with the neck dead stop for the prescribed number of repetitions.
Neck Harness Sled Pull (front and back)- Keeping your neck upright and straight drag the sled for prescribed distance.
Neck Harness Sled Neck Extension/Flexion- The entire movement of the sled should be performed with neck power only (front and back) moving the sled for the prescribed number of repetitions.
Medicine Ball on the Wall (Front)-Using your forehead and standing in front of a wall
with the medicine ball placed against your forehead and the wall move your head up and down while keeping the medicine ball affixed to the wall.
Side to Side-Using your forehead and standing in front of a wall with the medicine ball placed against your forehead and the wall move your head from side to side as if you were looking over your shoulder.
Back-Place the medicine ball against the back of the head and the wall and move the head up and down with the medicine ball staying in continuous contact.
Olympic Bar Face Raises- Using a flat bench, extend head over benches edge and place the bar on the forehead utilizing the hands just enough to stabilize the bar but allowing the neck to perform the raising and lowering.
Dumbbell Face Raises-Using a flat bench, extend head over benches edge and place the dumbbell on the forehead utilizingthe hands just enough to stabilize the dumbbell but allowing the neck to do the raising and the lowering.
Partner Assisted Isometrics-Use partner’s hands to create maximum resistance on front, back and sides of head.
Or your partner's back.
Neck Bridges Front and Back on Ground- Perform wrestlers bridge with forehead on ground and back of the head on the ground.
Weighted Neck Bridges- Perform wrestlers bridge with forehead on ground and back of the head on the ground. Have your training partner stabilize the plate on the front or back of trainee.
Bridge on Bench Pullovers- On a flat bench, bridge facing up and while in the bridged position perform pullovers keeping the head in the extended bridge position.
Bridge on Ground Pullovers- Lying back on the ground, bridge facing up and while in the bridged position perform pullovers keeping the head in the extended bridge position.
Neck Rolls Side to Side on Exercise Ball- Feet on the ground or elevated on a bench place forehead on exercise ball and rotate neck side to side moving chin towards shoulder.
Neck Bridges on Bosu- With feet on ground place head on Bosu and perform wrestler’s bridge off of Bosu both face down and face up.
Dog with the Bone Bands- Place daisy chain or nylon strap that is affixed to jump stretch band in between teeth and rotate head side to side simulating looking over your shoulder.
Dog with the Bone Bungee- Place daisy chain or nylon strap that is affixed to bungee cord in between teeth and rotate head side to side simulating looking over your shoulder.
Neck Harness 30’s Front/Back- Perform ten reps of the first third, ten reps of the last third and ten complete reps both front and back.
New Twist on 21’s Neck Harness- Perform 7 reps of the first third, 7 reps of the last third and 7 full reps front and back.
Neck Harness Negative Front/Back- Lower 20% greater weight than can be lifted throughout the complete range of motion in ten seconds controlled.
Neck Harness with Band Suspended Kettlebell- Loop mini-band doubled through kettlebell handle and affix the other ends of the band to the harness. Do front and back in a controlled manner. The kettlebell vibrates up and down somewhat during the movement.
Handstand Football Helmet Neck Rolls with Drop Shrug- Using a football helmet assume handstand bridge position and perform bridge movement followed by a shoulder shrug towards the head while inverted.
Neck Harness Good Mornings with kettlebell/band attached underneath feet- With a band affixed under toes or kettlebell attached in front to harness bend at knees while keeping legs straight keeping arms in a simulated bar grabbing position or at the sides and stand erect and lower while maintaining proper arch.
Neck Harness Squats: Kettlebell/Bands- Kettlebell in front attached to harness or bands attached under toes squat up and down keeping the neck flexed and upright. Be sure to dead stop each repetition to avoid bouncing.
Neck Harness Sit-up- On a calf/ham/glute machine assume a straight legged sit-up position and affix kettlebell (tension) behind the trainees head. Perform a controlled sit-up with the neck flexed and straight. The raising should start with a dead stop and rise in a controlled manner to avoid neck strain and the potential for the kettlebell to have hard contact with the low back.
Suspended Band Olympic Bar Neck Extensions- Loop and choke band on top of power rack on each side. Place Olympic bar through loops and add resistance. Lay flat on bench with head hanging over edge. Remove bar in bench press style and with the assistance of spotters place on forehead and lower and raise neck throughout the full range of motion using hands just to support the bar.

Nautilus/Machine Four Way Neck-Perform front/backand both sides in a controlled manner without using leg drive.
Chin/Throat Gripper Helper- Place gripper helper open end between chin and clavicle. Support the closed end with one hand and compress the gripper helper by driving chin into upper chest.
Overhead Bungee Football Helmet Neck Extension- Attach bungees to power rack above the head (preferably low chinning bar) and attach other end to football face mask. Perform extension and flexion work.
Ballistic Exercises- These are advanced movements for individuals who utilize their head and neck in a ballistic manner. Soccer players, combat fighters who employ the head butt. Use caution and never train at full force.
Medicine Ball Forehead Throws- Lying flat on a bench with a football helmet on allow the cage to support a light medicine ball and with finger support on the ball only, drive the head from the lowest portion of the movement and fire the ball into the air with neck drive. Catch and repeat.
 Yes, this is apparently a neck training method.
Heavy Bag Head Butt- Wearing a football helmet or boxing headgear perform head butts on a water bag from front, back and sides at no greater than 50% velocity. Ease into the
movement and only utilize after substantial neck training and development.
Clearly, those are not all solid gold- they range in utility from pretty cool to insane to worthless, but they give you an idea of the amount of variation and creativity you can employ in your neck training if you're feeling a little froggy and want to try something weird to get your neck bigger.  If you're still unconvinced you need to train your neck, consider the fact that bodybuilder Reg Park would have called you a bitch for your lack of neck girth- "The bodybuilder finds he must pay attention to the neck and shoulder girdle if he hopes to attain as near perfect proportions as his type of structure will allow. You'll grant that a man with a massive development of every group but those of the neck and traps, would look out of proportion on a posing platform"(Drucker).  That's right- you'd even look the bitch on a bodybuilding stage if you have a tiny neck.  


Gina Carano has a bigger neck than you.  Get after it.

Sources:
Alter, Joseph.  Gama the world champion.  Iron Game History.  Oct 1995.  Web. 5 Jul 2013.  http://library.la84.org/SportsLibrary/IGH/IGH0402/IGH0402c.pdf

Alter, Joseph.  The Wrestler's Body: Identity and Ideology in North India.  California Scholarship Online.  12 May 1992.

Drucker, Rob.  Reg Park on neck and trap training.  Muscles of Iron.  Web.  9 Jul 2013.  http://www.musclesofiron.com/articles/reg-park-on-neck-training/

Helmicki, Steven.  Art of the Neck.  Vol. 1.  2008.  PDF.

25 comments:

  1. NEKKA-LEKKA-HIIII-NEKKA-HINEY-HOOOOOOOOOO

    ReplyDelete
  2. South Africa was never called Rhodesia. That is the completely different country to the north now called Zimbabwe.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You like top gear uk..? Didnt think anyone in america watched it. Best show in the world imo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's only enjoyed by literate people, so less than half of America would potentially watch it. It's available on Netflix, so I watch it all the time. The new season is the balls, if you've not seen it, though nothing touches the Reliant Robin episode.

      Delete
    2. I ddnt think i could have any more respect for you than i did before... Man i've seen every episode ever, i'm in ireland so i get the first showing on BBC. The special to new orleans was hilarious with the inbred alabama troglodytes, or the vietnam special

      Delete
    3. Also, you said how disappointing man of steel was (i think the second one will be much better). Go to see world war z, its awesome. Havent read the book but i want to now.

      Delete
    4. The book and the movie have, aside from the title, almost nothing in common. Saw the movie last night, and it was cool, and though it's not fair to compare, I enjoyed the book a lot more. Top Gear is fucking great.

      Delete
    5. I liked both Man of Steel and WWZ. The latter was a shit zombie movie but a great thriller. Warm Bodies was better as a pure zombie movie, frankly.

      Delete
  4. Is this the end of your neck blogging? You haven't posted any pictures of Mike Bruce or this guy:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkGHeAv9YzI

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never heard of either. I might blog about neck training more in the future, but I've had my fill for the moment.

      Delete
  5. Man of Steel was awesome.....I've had my fill of "dark, gritty, anti-heros".

    ReplyDelete
  6. Grow a beard - Tiny head problem solved, manliness gained.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Everything feels useless in life, now that Anderson Silva isn't world champion any longer. He didn't even had a huge neck.

    Had to think about it after seeing the picture of Gina Carrano.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Jamie
    What you think about heavy bodyweight ghetto training style?
    This guy said in an interview that trains every day, one to two hours. That sound to me like one a the badassmotherfucker but in bodyweight style.No rest days, and always go heavy.



    Sorry for the bad english

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfsTKfUT-RQ

      Delete
    2. How the fuck do "always go heavy" using just your bodyweight?

      Delete
    3. wirh front levers, one hand front ever, One-Arm Ring Row, muscle ups-one hand muscle ups, korean dips, push ups and dips with weighted vest and chains. I think is like the gymnast move but for a lot o set and reps. Maybe hindu style but in "ghetto style".

      Delete
    4. It's interesting- I'd planned on writing about it at some point, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

      Delete
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