Before and After Illustration of man building a thicker and more muscular neck.

How to Build a Thicker Neck (Even if It’s Skinny)

I always hated how skinny my neck was. When I was at my skinniest, my neck circumference was 14 inches. After bulking up and gaining 60 pounds, it grew to 14.25 inches. Clearly, the compound lifts I was doing weren’t developing my neck muscles.

That’s where neck training comes in. Neck training isn’t common with bodybuilders, strongmen, or powerlifters, but it has a long history in contact sports and martial arts, given that it reduces the risk of concussions, knockouts, and brain trauma. That’s Marco’s area of expertise. Before founding Bony to Beastly, he was training college, professional, and Olympic football and rugby players.

Still, I was skeptical about how effective a neck workout routine could be. That skepticism didn’t last. With just a few months of doing 5-minute neck workouts, my neck grew from 14.25 to 16 inches. We’ve reproduced those results with several dozen clients. We’ll show you exactly how to do it.

Before and after illustration of a skinny guy becoming muscular.

The Minimalist Neck Workout (Tutorial Video)

Maximalist neck workouts can be a hassle. Most people don’t want to do 4 sets of 4 different neck exercises 3 days per week. But you don’t need to do every neck exercise. In fact, you only need to do one. That’s what I did.

Here’s the minimalist neck workout I used to bulk up my neck. It’s just one exercise. You don’t need to do any warm-ups. You don’t need any special equipment. You could even do it at home.

Here’s the workout routine:

  • Superset: neck curls + twists + nods (as shown in the video).
  • 25–35 reps of curls to failure + 10–20 twists + nods to failure.
  • 3 of those supersets per workout.
  • 3 workouts per week.
  • Add resistance by pressing against your forehead or using a weight plate.

I did it while playing hide-and-seek with my 5-year-old. I’d do 30 reps with my eyes closed, counting out the reps while he hid. We’d play 3–4 games a few times per week. That was enough to add almost 2 inches to my neck within just a few months. If that sounds too complicated, I think you’d get similar results if you skipped the hide-and-seek part.

You probably have questions. Let’s dive deeper.

My Neck Bulking Results

Before we talk about how to build a thicker neck, let me show you my own results. I gained 55 pounds during my first two years of serious bulking. That was enough to completely hide my skinny neck:

Before and after photo of a skinny guy's bulking transformation

Underneath the hair, though, my situation was grim. After gaining 55 pounds, adding 13 inches to my shoulder circumference, and gaining 5 inches around my biceps, my neck had only grown 0.25 inches, going from 14 inches to 14.25 inches. And because my other muscles had grown so much more, my neck suddenly looked disproportionately small.

The odd thing was, in photos where you could see my whole body, I looked pleasantly muscular, but then in photos of just my head, I looked as skinny as ever. It looked like my head was connected to the wrong body.

So I started training my neck:

These before and after photos were taken 3 months apart and show my neck circumference going from 14.25 inches to 16 inches. I have candid photos showing the change, too. Here are some family photos taken before and after my neck transformation:

Illustration of Shane Duquette bulking up his neck.

In retrospect, the reason my neck lagged is obvious: I never trained it. It’s like never training your chest and then wondering why your chest isn’t growing. But neither bodybuilders nor powerlifters train their necks, so I had assumed it must be dangerous or unnecessary.

I also never trained my jaw muscles. Most people don’t. So, I’ve started training those as well.

Should You Build a Bigger Neck?

Are Neck Workouts Safe?

Neck training is safe when it’s done correctly. We have neck muscles for a reason. We’re supposed to be able to move our necks around. Our necks are supposed to be strong. And there’s a long tradition of boxers, wrestlers, football players, and rugby players building fearsomely strong necks without any issues.

You might think that neck training is like rounding your back when deadlifting. But deadlifts involve maximal loads. Neck training is far more similar to flexing your spine when doing crunches, which is quite safe, even when doing hundreds of repetitions every day for an entire lifetime.

As we mentioned above, Marco used to train professional football players and Olympic rugby players. They trained their necks to reduce their risk of injury. The stronger they could make their neck muscles, the sturdier their necks would be, preventing breaks and concussions.

But just to be sure, I confirmed that neck training was safe with Greg Nuckols, MA, who runs the top research review, Monthly Applications in Strength Sport. He, too, had no issues whatsoever with neck training—as long as it’s done properly.

Range of Motion Concerns

The joints in your neck are designed to move through a small range of motion. The joints in your neck aren’t like your shoulder, knee, or elbow joints. Your spine is made up of a series of small joints, each with a relatively small range of motion. They’re strongest and sturdiest in the middle of that range of motion.

If you watch the tutorial video at the beginning of the article, I show you how to work your neck through a fairly small range of motion while still working your neck muscles at long muscle lengths. I do this by keeping my neck “packed” (aka making a double chin). It’s super safe, great for neck mobility and posture, and fantastic for building muscle.

It’s also possible to train your neck like you train your spinal erectors: with isometrics. When you deadlift, you barely move your spine, but it still grows stronger from supporting the heavy loads you’re lifting. You can take the same approach with your neck. Instead of lifting and lowering a weight, you could hold it in place, letting your neck muscles fight to maintain proper posture.

Neck Size & Sleep Apnea

The risk of sleep apnea starts to increase at a neck circumference of 17 inches. That stat comes from a study published in the European Respiratory Journal (study). A second study confirmed that finding (study). But it’s not quite that simple. Most people have oversized necks because they’re overweight, not because they have muscular necks.

Illustration of a guy with thick neck muscles who is at greater risk of sleep apnea.

Dr Brandon Peters, MD, a sleep medicine specialist, wrote that sleep apnea might be caused by fat in and around the neck, not simply having a thicker neck.

First, as an individual becomes more overweight or obese, one area of the body that becomes larger in circumference is the neck. Therefore, a large neck likely corresponds to increased fat tissue elsewhere in the body, including at the base of the tongue and lining the airway. Aside from having a large stomach, there will also be tissue crowding along the airway, especially in the throat.

–Dr Brandon Peters, MD

We get the same hypothesis from the Mayo Clinic:

In most people, a neck size greater than 16 or 17 inches is a sign of excess fat in the neck area. This may contribute to crowding and narrowing of your breathing tube, making obstruction or blockage of your airway while you sleep all the more likely.

–The Mayo Clinic

There seems to be a consensus that sleep apnea is linked to neck fat, not neck muscle. However, it might still be prudent not to push it. Some thick-necked fighters do suffer from sleep apnea, even though their necks are lean. Given how important sleep is, I’m not eager to become a guinea pig.

If you keep your neck under 17 inches, you should be fine. 16 inches seems like a good size for me, so no issue there.

Neck Aesthetics

What’s the Average Neck Size?

Most men have necks between 15 and 16.5 inches. According to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research, the mean neck circumference for a man is 16.5 inches. Some other studies measured the average male neck size at 15 inches.

Illustration of the average male neck size.

When I first saw that, I thought of my own 14-inch neck and felt disheartened. Even after gaining 60 pounds and getting up to a healthy body weight, my neck was still 2 inches smaller than the average sedentary man. Mind you, the average man’s neck is thicker because he has a higher body fat percentage, not because his neck is more muscular.

(To make matters trickier, the best way of estimating your body fat percentage at home is the Navy Method, which takes into account your neck size. Neck size is used as a proxy for muscle mass, so if you have a naturally thin neck, it will underestimate your muscularity and overestimate your body fat. You can fix that by making your neck as strong as the rest of you.)

The Average Neck Size of Skinny Guys

In our bulking program, we guide skinny guys through the bulking process. We wrote an article covering their average bulking results. We also have their average neck measurements. The average naturally thin guy has a neck size of 14.4 inches.

That means we need to gain 1–2 inches to get up the average neck size. You can probably do that within a few months. Most guys doing our program don’t train their necks, but those who do gain around 1.5–2 inches after 6 months.

The Most Aesthetic Neck Size

Dr. Casey Butt, Ph.D., is famous for studying bodybuilding aesthetics. He compared the measurements and proportions of all the “silver era” bodybuilders from the 1940s–60s, back when bodybuilders were still natural.

Dr. Butt thought the ideal neck size was the same as the ideal arm size: 50% of your waist circumference. It’s a little bit more complicated than that. The average American man has a few extra inches of fat around his waist. The average skinny guy can often benefit from adding a few inches of muscle to his abs, obliques, and spinal erects. That means for most men, the “ideal” waist circumference is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30–34 inches, putting their ideal neck size at around 15–17 inches.

  • Ideal waist size: a strong waist at 8–15% body fat.
  • Ideal arm size: waist × 0.5
  • Ideal neck size: waist × 0.5

This heuristic is good for bodybuilding, and I think it works okay for the average guy. I have a 32-inch waist, 16-inch arms, and a 16-inch neck. I like how that looks and feels. It worked for me. But I don’t think it’s the right way to think about aesthetics. I prefer the approach we outline here.

The Most Attractive Neck Size

I spoke with Dr. Aaron Sell, the lead researcher on one of my favourite attractiveness studies. His research shows that the stronger and more formidable we appear (especially in our upper bodies), the more attractive we look.

Neck size is a huge predictor of formidability. Think of how essential neck strength is when fighting. You’d expect it to be strongly linked with attractiveness. But since neck size hasn’t been studied in isolation from overall muscularity, we couldn’t be sure, let alone put a specific number to it.

So, to figure out the most attractive neck size, we surveyed over 500 people, asking them to rate different neck sizes (survey breakdown here and here). Our results were somewhat at odds with Dr. Sell’s research. The most formidable “fighter” neck didn’t fare very well, with only 5% of women and 14% of men preferring it. Most people think a neck size of 15–17 inches looks best.

Illustration showing a skinny neck, the ideal neck size, and a neck that's too thick and muscular.

This is really good news. A 16-inch neck is easy to build, isn’t associated with sleep apnea, and is still plenty strong and athletic. You can build a 16-inch neck with just a few months of smart training.

How to Build A Thicker Neck

Neck Muscle Anatomy

Your neck is packed full of muscles that help you flex, extend, twist, and turn your head. We’ll show you how to bulk up all of them. It isn’t as complicated as it seems.

Illustration diagram showing the two most prominent neck muscles: the trapezius muscles and the sternocleidomastoid muscles.

Most of your results will come from bulking up your upper traps and sternocleidomastoid. We’ll focus on those, but we haven’t forgotten the others. We’ll train them, too.

Your upper traps are your biggest neck muscle. They help to stabilize your shoulder girdle, so you can bulk them up with deadlifts, loaded carries, overhead presses, and even lateral raises. If you follow a good workout program, they should grow in proportion with the rest of your muscles.

Illustration diagram showing how the traps and sternocleidomastoid make the neck thicker.

Your sternocleidomastoid is the muscle that will make your neck thicker. It’s a bit of a tricky muscle. It pulls your head towards your collarbones but tilts your head backwards. That’s why I like to keep my neck “packed” while doing neck curls. “Pack your neck” is a common lifting cue, especially with compound lifts like overhead presses and deadlifts. It also helps here.

Packing your neck while doing neck exercises lengthens the sternocleidomastoid at the back, training it under a deeper stretch. Training at long muscle lengths is better for building muscle (full explanation). Plus, packing your neck keeps your spine in a more neutral position, which (anecdotally) seems to be good for preventing minor neck aches and strains.

Before and after neck posture transformation.

Many other smaller neck muscles will fight to keep your chin tucked. They’ll grow bigger and stronger, too. They aren’t as big as your sternocleidomastoid and won’t add as much girth to your neck, but I suspect they help improve neck posture.

The 3 Best Neck Exercises

You can build bigger traps with deadlifts, overhead presses, lateral raises, and loaded carries. If you follow a balanced bulking program, your traps will grow just fine. They don’t usually need any special attention. If they do, you can add in some shrugs.

Your other neck muscles do need special attention, so let’s dive deeper into the best neck exercises.

Before and after illustration of a man with a skinny neck building a muscular neck.

The Neck Curl

The neck is arguably the best exercise for building a bigger neck. It’s best at bulking up your sternocleidomastoid, but it also engages many of your smaller neck muscles.

The legendary neck curl.

You can do these with weight plates or by pressing your hands against your forehead. I show both variations in the tutorial video at the beginning of the article. Both approaches can work. I started with weight plates and then switched over to pressing with my hands. Using my hands was easier and seemed to be just as effective.

The Neck Extension

Neck extensions train your upper traps and spinal erectors, bulking up the back of your neck. Those muscles get some work from your compound lifts. You don’t need to isolate them. But you certainly can.

Illustration of a man doing neck extensions to build a thicker neck.

The simplest way to do neck extensions is to put a plate on the back of your head and then extend it backwards. It’s the same technique as with neck curls, just in reverse. It’s an awkward movement, though, so most people do neck bridges or get a neck harness instead.

Illustration of a man doing neck extensions with a neck harness.

I tested a couple of neck harnesses over several weeks. Iron Neck makes a good one. I didn’t wind up needing it, though. I didn’t do any neck extensions.

Neck Side Raises

Neck side raises train your sternocleidomastoid and a bunch of other smaller neck muscles. It’s a simple exercise. Lie somewhat awkwardly on the bench and flex your neck sideways. Again, any resistance will work (including your hands). I didn’t do these, but I think I might start.

Illustration of a man doing neck side raises to build a thicker neck.

Neck side raises aren’t needed, but they’re a nice way to increase our neck training volume without needing to do endless sets of neck curls. They might also help you build more symmetrical neck muscles.

Ease In But Dig Deep

Start with just 2 sets per exercise. The first time the muscles in your throat get sore, it feels similar to having a sore throat, and you may fear you’ve gotten sick. The harder you train in those first workouts, the more crippling that soreness can be. Better to ease into it. I recommend starting with two sets per neck exercise and stopping a good 2–3 reps shy of failure. That will keep the soreness manageable.

As your neck grows thicker, stronger, and tougher, you can gradually add sets and start training closer to failure. A few weeks from now, you can do as many as 4–5 sets of neck curls per workout, doing them 2–4 times per week.

What surprised me the most was that neck training started to feel really good once I got used to it. My neck has started to feel noticeably sturdier and tougher. The training has become hearty and strenuous. I’ve come to enjoy it. It wasn’t what I expected.

Warm-Ups and Neck Stiffness

It’s normal for a muscle to feel sore and stiff after training it, especially during the first week or two of following a new workout program. When that stiffness is in your neck, it can feel more threatening. The best way to avoid excessive soreness is to ease into your neck training. Don’t go all-out in your very first workout. Start with just 2 sets and gradually work your way up.

Some people say that doing neck warm-ups helps. I prefer to do high-rep sets. That way, the first dozen reps serve as a warm-up for the last dozen reps. But you can warm up your neck if you want to.

Sets, Reps & Training Frequency

You can train your neck 2–4 times per week with 2–5 sets per workout. Most research shows you can maximize growth by training your muscles twice per week.

At the peak of my neck training, I did 3–4 sets of neck curls. Each set was supersetted with twists and nods. I did all 3 exercises in a row, rested for a minute, and then did the next superset. The full workout only took around 5 minutes. If you do that 3x per week, that’s 27–36 sets for your neck muscles per week. That’s a high training volume. Your neck will grow quite fast.

Aim for 25–35 reps per set. Most research shows that we build muscle the most efficiently when we do 6–20 reps per set. But since these are smaller isolation lifts that we’re doing, going even higher can work incredibly well. That also saves you from needing warm-up sets, keeping your workouts shorter.

Short rest periods are fine. Because your neck muscles are relatively small, you can do high-rep sets with short rest times without your cardiorespiratory system limiting you. You’ll lose reps from set to set, but that’s okay.

Avoiding Bruises & Neck Pain

Don’t press weights into your forehead. I recommend padding your forehead with a bandana or towel to prevent the plates from giving you bruises or calluses. A patch of thicker callused skin on your forehead would pull attention away from your impressively muscular neck. Better to avoid it.

Neck strains are called “zingers.” Apparently, it’s common for people to strain their neck muscles by jerking the weight around. I never had that issue. I think lifting in a higher rep range with a more modest range of motion saved me.

Measuring Your Neck

If what you’re doing isn’t working, no amount of patience or persistence will yield results. Results only come from the accumulation of gradual progress. So, you need to measure your progress to make sure it’s gradually accumulating.

Illustration showing where to measure neck circumference.

Since your goal is to build a thicker neck, you can measure your neck circumference. I recommend measuring your neck right above your traps, right where the collar of your shirt would be (though I don’t recommend wearing shirts).

Tracking Progress

Track your weight/reps/sets, and always try to improve. To gain muscle size, you need to focus on getting stronger. You need to fight to add weight or eke out more reps. Your neck muscles have good potential for growth and can grow surprisingly strong. You might surprise yourself with how quickly you can improve.

Use a wide rep range if you need to. It’s often best to add 2.5–5 pounds whenever you reach the top of your target rep range (35 repetitions). But if you’re using a weight plate, you might only be able to go up in increments of 5 or even 10 pounds. In that case, be flexible with your rep range. Anywhere from 20–40 reps is great.

Finally, make sure you gain at least a little weight on the scale each week. If you’re skinny-fat or overweight, you can recomp. But if you’re skinny, you’ll need to bulk—you’ll need to eat enough calories to gain weight. That’s the only way to fuel muscle growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Exercises Work Your Neck?

None of the big compound lifts stimulate the muscles in your neck. That’s why until people start training their necks directly, their necks don’t grow.

The only exception is that some lifts—such as deadlifts, shrugs, overhead presses, and lateral raises—train the traps. Building bigger traps will make your upper body look more muscular, but it won’t make your neck any thicker.

The best exercises for your neck are isolation exercises:

  • Neck curls
  • Neck extensions
  • Neck bridges
  • Neck planks
  • Neck side raises

Of these exercises, neck curls are the most important.

Why Don’t Modern Bodybuilders Train Their Necks?

If you look at natural bodybuilders, you’ll notice that many have fairly skinny necks. I was curious about this. Bodybuilders care a great deal about aesthetics, and building a more muscular neck is one of the best things you can do for aesthetics.

I asked Dr. Eric Helms why bodybuilders don’t train their necks. Helms is a muscle hypertrophy researcher as well as a competitive natural bodybuilder. If anyone knew, he would. He explained that the biggest professional bodybuilders develop thick necks simply from their PED abuse. Their entire bodies bulk up, including their faces, necks—everything. If they add neck training on top of that, they risk building such thick necks that it restricts airflow (as we’ve discussed above).

That isn’t a problem for natural bodybuilders (like Dr. Helms), but he explained that the judging criteria of bodybuilding flow down from the professional bodybuilders. If they aren’t bulking their necks, the natural guys don’t do it either. Neck training isn’t part of their culture.

Finally, many bodybuilders are naturally muscular, with naturally thicker necks. Some have histories of playing college football or wrestling. They already have thick necks. They don’t need extra neck exercises.

Will Deadlifts Make Your Neck Bigger?

Deadlifts train your traps, which are technically part of your neck. Taller traps won’t make your neck any thicker, though. For that, you’d need to bulk up your sternocleidomastoid muscles.

Illustration of a man doing a barbell sumo deadlift.

Some guys build bigger sternocleidomastoid muscles from deadlifts. Omar Isuf is a good example of that. He gained several inches around his neck from subconsciously flexing it while deadlifting. That’s fairly rare.

Will Your Neck Shrink if You Stop Training It?

Many former football players, boxers, and martial artists maintain muscular necks decades after they stop training them. A popular example is the actor Channing Tatum, who built a bigger neck while doing martial arts and playing football in college. He stopped training his neck for 20 years, yet it’s still his most developed muscle.

That’s strange. Some of the changes in our muscles are permanent, but almost everyone loses at least some muscle size when they stop training their muscles. You might maintain some of your neck gains, and that might be enough to give you a pleasantly muscular neck, but you probably won’t maintain peak neck size unless you do a couple of sets of neck curls per week.

I bulked my neck from 14.25 to 16 inches, then stopped training it for 2 years. It shrunk back down to 15.25 inches and stayed that way. Then I bulked it back up again.

How Can You Train Your Neck at Home?

I bulked up my neck at home with bodyweight exercises. The most popular bodyweight exercises are neck bridges. They’re popular with fighters. But I recommend neck curls instead. I show the body weight variation in the tutorial video at the beginning of the article.

Are Neck Workouts Bad for You?

No, there’s no reason to think that neck workouts are dangerous. They do train the spine, and it’s wise to be careful when training your spine. However, neck exercises tend to be relatively light, especially compared to other exercises that load the spine, such as the deadlift. Because of the lighter loads you’re using, there’s far less shear stress on your spine. It isn’t an issue.

Plus, neck training has several benefits, including increased resilience to concussions and traumatic brain injuries, such as those you might get in a fight or car crash. That’s why neck training is ubiquitous in combat sports like boxing, MMA, and football.

Do Shrugs Train the Neck?

Shrugs train the upper traps, and your traps do connect to your neck. But building bigger traps won’t make your neck any thicker. To build a thicker neck, you need to train your sternocleidomastoid. The best way to do that is with neck curls.

Conclusion

I recommend bulking up your traps by following a good bulking program. Deadlifts, overhead, presses, and lateral raises will do the trick.

Then, for your sternocleidomastoid, I recommend neck curls, twists, and nods (as shown in the tutorial video at the beginning). You can add neck extensions, bridges, and/or side raises if you want a more robust neck routine. Sets of 25–35 reps tend to work best, but anywhere from 20–40 reps can work well.

Train your neck 2–4 times per week with 2–5 sets per movement, aiming for at least 9 sets per week. I wanted to bulk my neck up faster, so I did 27 sets per week. Mind you, the exercises were supersetted together. It only took me around 15 minutes per week.

It’s common for people to gain an inch or two in neck circumference within just their first few months of training. 16 inches seems to be the sweet spot for most people.

Illustration showing the Bony to Beastly Bulking Program

Alright, that’s it for now. If you want more muscle-building information, we have a free muscle-building newsletter. If you want a full workout and diet program, including a 6-month customizable full-body workout routine, diet guide, recipe book, and online coaching, check out our Bony to Beastly Program. Or, if you want a customizable intermediate muscle-building program, check out our Outlift Program.

Shane Duquette is the founder of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell, each with millions of readers. He's a Certified Conditioning Coach (CCC), has gained seventy pounds, and has over a decade of experience helping more than ten thousand naturally thin people build muscle. He also has a degree in fine arts, but those are inversely correlated with muscle growth.

Marco Walker-Ng is the founder and strength coach of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell. He's a certified trainer (PTS) and nutrition coach (PN) with a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences (BHSc) from the University of Ottawa. He has over 15 years of experience helping people gain muscle and strength, with clients including college, professional, and Olympic athletes.

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71 Comments

  1. Alex on April 17, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    Woo! I’m excited. I have even read it yet…lol.
    Wanted to be the first to comment

    • Shane Duquette on April 17, 2020 at 8:24 pm

      Ahaha I love it. I hope you like it 🙂

      • Mark Flux on August 20, 2022 at 9:05 pm

        Hey what if my neck size is already half the waist size? What should I do

        • Geet on April 26, 2023 at 2:40 am

          Hey amazing article it was really informative, I want to pass on little information to my Instagram followers on neck thickness and it’s benefits, I was wondering if
          I can use some of your images to make it happen.

          • Shane Duquette on April 26, 2023 at 2:45 pm

            Hey Geet, thank you, and sure! Just toss a link back to our site if you can 🙂



  2. Jake on April 18, 2020 at 2:11 am

    Are all the bicep measurements for relaxed or flexed?

    • Shane Duquette on April 18, 2020 at 8:16 am

      Hey Jake. Flexed. As a general rule, when people talk about how big their biceps are, it’s always flexed and measured at the thickest point (but without a muscle pump). Once in a while, you’ll see a research paper include relaxed biceps measurements, but even then, it’s uncommon.

  3. Sam on April 18, 2020 at 4:11 am

    Amazing article! Thankyou!

    Question: Where do you measure your neck!? Just above where your traps stop? Or right low down against the shoulders to include some trap circumference too??

    Thanks

    Sam

    • Shane Duquette on April 18, 2020 at 8:20 am

      Hey Sam, thank you! That’s a good question. I’ll add that to the FAQ with an illustration. The neck measurement is the same as you’d use to determine what collar size you need. So right above the traps at the base of the neck.

      • Sam on April 18, 2020 at 10:54 am

        Oh okay awesome!

        Weirdly, at 5ft 9.
        My Neck is 14.5″
        My biceps are 13.5″. So They probably need more attention atm haha.
        My arms just don’t like to grow…

        Thanks Shane

        • Shane Duquette on April 18, 2020 at 3:05 pm

          That’s not so weird. When I first started bulking, my biceps were 10″ and my neck was 14″. It took a while for my arms to grow, and it was a much slower and more difficult process. Fun, too, though 🙂

        • Shane Duquette on April 18, 2020 at 3:06 pm

          I want to get an article published about how to bulk up lanky arms. Hopefully soon!

        • Saurabh on April 26, 2020 at 2:26 pm

          Same with me at 5’7″ i have 14.25″ neck vs 13.25″ biceps ( i was never fan of biceps though) checkout the article of “aesthetics” u will get all required measurements for perfect physique.

  4. Sam on April 18, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    Hey Shane,

    Love the article, in fact, love all your articles. I’ve been bulking up for the past 3-4 weeks and I’m already seeing gains on the scale. I do have a question, not about neck size or anything, but about keeping size, especially as an ectomorph. You may have an article about this already, in which case please direct me there! If not, I was wondering if you could ease my mind. Right now I’m eating 3000 calories to gain roughly a pound or two a week (at least I think) but I hate eating this much haha. If I were to reach my goal of 20 pounds of lean muscle gain (140-160), what would I need to do to maintain that? I would say I generally eat 2000 calories or so to maintain weight. Thanks bro!

    • Shane Duquette on April 18, 2020 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks, Sam! Glad you dug it 🙂

      There are a few layers to that question. If you’re gaining a pound per week, that would mean that you’re in a calorie surplus of about 500 calories per day. If that’s the case, you’d be able to trim 500 calories out of your diet to maintain your weight. So that’s 2500 calories per day.

      However, that doesn’t take into account that your metabolism adapts to the amount of food you’re eating. When you’re in a surplus, your metabolism tends to speed up. More movement, more body heat—that kind of thing. This is your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). That means that when you stop eating in a surplus, we’d expect your metabolism to rev down a bit. Maybe your maintenance intake would be more like 2300 calories per day. Hard to say. And it might adapt to an even lower intake, too.

      Or we could look at it in terms of the energy demands of muscle. Each pound of muscle burns around six calories per day at rest. So if you gain twenty pounds of muscle, that’s an extra 120 calories burned per day. If your old intake was 2000 calories per day, that’d bring it to 2120. But you’d also need to lug that extra weight around, too, so probably a bit higher than that.

      The good news is that your body will eventually reach a new set point. As you get used to weighing more, your appetite will rev up and your metabolism will settle down. You’ll find that you intuitively eat enough weight to maintain your new muscle mass. It’s not perfect. As naturally skinny guys, we often need to watch out about losing weight when stressed, busy, or sick. When that happens, you might need to regain a few pounds. Nonetheless, you’ll still naturally hover around your new, higher bodyweight 🙂

      So to answer the heart of your question, you won’t need to overeat once you stop bulking. You’ll probably need to eat a bit more, but you’ll WANT to eat a bit more. It balances out. It will be (almost) as easy to maintain your new weight as it was to maintain your old weight.

      • Sam on April 18, 2020 at 7:37 pm

        Thanks Shane! This makes a ton of sense. While I was waiting for a reply I also checked out your article “Bulking Set Point and ‘Muscle Memory'”. SUPER helpful. It also explains why I would bulk in the past for a couple weeks, then lose most of the weight after returning to a maintenance caloric intake. I thought I was cursed, but I was just losing ‘digestive contents’- it all makes sense now!

        One more question, if I may. Due to the current global pandemic, I like many others have been resorting to bodyweight exercises to keep building muscle. My question is, how effective are bodyweight exercises for hypertrophy? Are they 50% as effective? 80%? I know this largely depends on the type of exercise and your own personal strength level, and the topic could probably be a book in itself. I just worry that I’m wasting my time doing bodyweight exercises (weighted pushups, handstand pushups, etc.) and worry that my caloric surplus is mainly becoming fat. Any advice is welcome!

        Thanks!
        Sam

        • Shane Duquette on April 18, 2020 at 8:24 pm

          My pleasure, man!

          We’ve got an article about how effective bodyweight exercises are for building muscle. Given the situation with the pandemic, I’m also going to write a new article about how to bulk with bodyweight exercises. Long story short, though, bodyweight exercises can be effective for building muscle, it’s just a bit harder, especially with some muscle groups (such as our quads, hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors). And because bodyweight training is often done in higher rep ranges with shorter rest periods, it’s also quite a bit more painful. But it’s not a bad way to train. It works.

          In fact, for some muscle groups, bodyweight exercises are great—arguably better than free weights. For example, you could use this as a chance to bulk up your chest, shoulders, and abs. Push-ups are fantastic for that. My favourite variation for bulking up the chest is the deficit push-up, as it gives a really nice stretch on the pecs, but there are a ton of good options. And if you have a chin-up bar, chin-ups are better for the back than barbell rows and lat pulldowns are.

          As for gaining more fat while doing bodyweight training, that’s possible. If you aren’t training, say, your quads and glutes very well—the two biggest muscles in your body—then you won’t be able to bulk at the same pace. In that case, you might want to cut your calorie surplus in half (or more). But it sounds like you’re giving your chest and shoulders some good stimulation. They’ll grow. It’s definitely not a waste of time. If the workouts aren’t strenuous enough, just go closer to failure, shorten the rest times, and fight to get more total reps per exercise each workout. Progressive overload will come in the form of extra reps, extra sets, and shorter rest.

          • Alex on January 22, 2023 at 5:58 pm

            Not many people know this but the most sexually dimorphic muscle group in size are the neck muscles. It makes sense why strong necks are attractive.



  5. Ricky on April 21, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    Hey Shane! Any thoughts on how to target traps whilst deadlifting lighter and with dumbbells (doing the 1 legged variations I’ve seen on the b2b insta page) if we have no access to a gym/barbell? I feel like I’m getting a TON of hamstring stimulation, which is awesome as I’ve always felt like I neglected them…but because it’s lighter weight and 1 leg isolation, there’s much less upper back activation.

    • Shane Duquette on April 21, 2020 at 9:38 pm

      Yes! Two ways.

      First, if you have light weights, no worries, just do lateral raises. Those work both the shoulders and the traps, and sets of anywhere between 4–40 reps should allow you to build muscle just fine (although sets of 6–20 reps are often the easiest).

      Second, handstand push-ups are a great way to work your shoulders and traps fairly heavy, just like an overhead press would. You can lean your feet against the wall so that it doesn’t become a balance exercise. And if you can raise your hands up somehow (so that your head doesn’t hit the ground so early) for some extra range of motion, all the better. If those are too hard or finicky, pike push-ups would probably work, too.

      • Ricky on April 21, 2020 at 10:10 pm

        Thank yooooou!!! You’re the best. Seriously. Gonna implement ASAP.

  6. Saurabh on April 26, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks b2b team , another great article in detail.
    Great work in gaining 1.5inches in this much short duration.
    I was always skeptical about neck training, wheather my gains will hold , or might take years to gain significantamount due to which i rarely trained it. Surely i will try now with bands in this lockdown period.
    I wonder the quick gain & retention of size around neck might be linked with presence high no. Nerves around neck & traps area helping in better stimulation.

    • Shane on April 27, 2020 at 5:20 pm

      It could be, yeah. Many men tend to build muscle quite easily around their shoulder girdles. However, I think the answer might be even simpler. Muscles that have never been trained before grow the most quickly. This is why beginners can gain so much muscle so quickly. I think we might be making newbie gains in our necks.

      (The opposite would be true for our calves. We have fewer androgen receptors there, which could certainly be a factor, but they’re also “trained” by almost every daily activity, and so they’re quite difficult to grow.)

  7. […] We often have thinner necks. The average man already has a 15–16.5″ neck (study). My neck started out at 14″ and refused to grow until I started training it. […]

  8. Roma on August 26, 2020 at 10:44 am

    Hi! I’m a woman and I’m so excited about these neck exercises as I have a very skinny neck. I’m 42 years old already and my neck is very skinny, making me more old even though I have a young looking face. My neck is very skinny and bony and it makes me feel so undesirable. Even when I was young my neck was very skinny. It’s like I have a turtle neck! Please help and give advice. Is it okay for women to do these neck workouts? I want to look good! Thank you.

    • Shane Duquette on September 8, 2020 at 9:19 am

      Hey Roma, that’s great!

      And of course you can train your neck. All of the advice here applies equally to both men and women 🙂

      • Charlie on February 14, 2021 at 7:51 pm

        I always had a long skinny neck. Was 15” now it’s 17.5” My work shirts don’t fit as they are like a tent on me. I had to move the button to allow me to button up top button. I have started to train upper traps a lot as it was a lagging body part. I have invested in a neck harness and am about to start doing neck exercises. I have 16.5” biceps 55” chest and am 5’10”. I have narrow shoulders so my dimensions for shirts are now way off. I’ll start off really light training my neck, looking forward to it.

        • Shane Duquette on February 15, 2021 at 5:16 pm

          15 to 17.5 inches! Wow! Nice work, man.

          I had the opposite problem. After building some muscle, my shoulders fit large shirts, but my 14.5″ neck didn’t fill the collar.

        • Dan on July 13, 2021 at 3:09 pm

          55″ chest with 16.5″ biceps? A bigger chest than Arnold in his prime? Dude, please edit that measurement.

  9. Fabrizio on February 22, 2021 at 9:50 am

    Hey Shane,

    Great article! I came across your website a couple of months ago and wish I had found it earlier – it’s an amazing resource, really spot on for ectomorph types like me.

    My question is about neck training on a calorie deficit. After reading this article I included neck training in my current bulking cycle and it has worked very nicely. I’m now about to start cutting and was wondering whether to include neck curls and extensions, as they aren’t hit by other lifts?

    Similarly, should I include in my cutting workout some reps for muscles that aren’t properly hit by the bigger compound exercises, eg the long head of the triceps?

    Thanks!
    Fabrizio

    • Shane Duquette on February 22, 2021 at 11:48 am

      Hey Fabrizio, thank you!

      Sunny told me that this is your second time asking this question here. I’m not sure what happened to the other comment. I can’t find it. We have a spam filter, but comments don’t need manual approval. All comments should show up immediately underneath the post unless they contain suspicious links. I’m sorry yours didn’t make it. I don’t know why. I’m glad this one came through okay 🙂

      The neck is somewhat unique in that the main lifts don’t train the neck AT ALL. Therefore, to maintain your neck size while cutting, yeah, I’d continue doing a small amount of neck training. Maybe 2 sets of curls and 2 sets of extensions per week. If you notice your neck strength or size dropping, add a third set.

      With your other muscles, they should be okay without isolation lifts. The long head of the triceps aren’t fully engaged with pressing movements because of the movement at the shoulder, and they aren’t trained fully by pulling movements because of the movement at the shoulder. But they’re still stimulated by both. So if you’re doing the bench press, push-ups, or overhead pressing, and you’re mixing that with some chin-ups or rows, you’re fine. Not ideal for growth, but more than enough for maintenance.

      With that said, I like to include some isolation lifts while cutting, especially for areas that I care about. Since having bigger arms looks sweet, I’d include a couple of sets of curls and extensions during my cuts. Not much, just a couple sets per week. The other advantage is that some of these “isolation” lifts tend to work a few muscles. Curls and extensions work the forearm flexors, for instance, which will help to maintain the size of your forearms.

      • Fabrizio on February 22, 2021 at 5:05 pm

        Thanks man! I’ll include the neck curls and extensions, as well as something for the arms, just to make sure – they’re definitely a priority hehe.

        PS I think I found the reason for my disappearing post – I had used the Samsung mobile browser. Today I tried using Chrome and it went through.

        • Shane Duquette on February 23, 2021 at 1:57 pm

          My pleasure, man!

          Oh, hrm, I wonder why the spam filter would mind a post made from your mobile browser. I hope that isn’t happening to other people, too :S

  10. Justin on April 1, 2021 at 9:46 am

    I respectfully disagree. All you need are bands. Watch this link.

    • Shane Duquette on April 1, 2021 at 10:54 am

      Hey Justin, I’m not sure what you’re disagreeing with. Certainly possible to build a thicker neck with resistance bands, or by using pressure from your hands, or by doing neck bridges, or by a number of other means. The same is true with our other muscles. We can build muscle in a variety of ways.

      The fastest and most reliable way to build muscle, though, is to progressively overload our muscles with weights and to lift through a large range of motion. That doesn’t mean that it’s the only way, just that it makes for a great default choice if you want to get results faster and more efficiently.

  11. Rob on April 6, 2021 at 5:55 am

    Hey Shane,

    How fast you should add inches/cm to your neck circumference? I started training neck seriously about 3,5 months ago I started with 10kg (22 lbs) neck curls and now I am at 30 kg (66 lbs) curls – 3 sets of 30 reps, I also do 3 sets of lateral raises for about 25-30 reps now. I didn’t do extensions.
    And my neck grew maybe 0,5 cm (or even less). Is this normal?

    • Shane Duquette on April 6, 2021 at 4:20 pm

      Congrats on those strength gains, man! That’s awesome.

      Are you gaining at least a little bit of weight and eating enough protein? When building muscle, wherever that muscle is, it always helps to gear into at least a bit of a bulk.

      It’s also possible that a big chunk of the girth comes from the muscles at the back of the neck. They also happen to be much stronger. It could be that’s why.

      The good news is that even though the growth is somewhat slow, it’s measurable. Even more encouraging is the increase in strength. It sounds like things are going well, just slowly.

    • Justme94 on December 25, 2021 at 8:36 pm

      To be honest I have experienced the same. I’ve gotten a lot stronger on my neck exercises (curls, extensions and side raises) and I have a good mind-muscle connections, but my neck hasn’t grown that much. I’ve been training it for like 3+ years now (actually, I trained it back in 2013-2015 with worse mind-muscle connection and being on a massive bulk, but stopped due to a lack of significant results, but resumed the training in 2018) but this year I took it more seriously and finally gained a bit of weight (dropped a lot of weight between 2014-2017 after getting fat with bulking and this year I gained like 10-12 lbs after being stagnant with my weight for like 3-4 years). It went from like 36 cm to 37.5-38 cm (just under 15 inches) this year. It seems like my neck just doesn’t respond that well to training. My arms, on the other hand are the opposite. They’re over 41 cm/16.2 in (last time I measured, and I was a few lbs lighter), so maybe they’re even bigger now as they respond pretty well in my case.

      I think different people will have different responses to training. Some might start with a skinny neck but can somehow grow a lot with training. Others start small and grow just a bit. Other guys might start big and become freaks, and yet others might start big and not grow that much more. Basically, what I’m saying is that genetics for muscle building are determined both by your starting point, but more so by how you respond to training and eating enough to grow. Someone might be skinny because they don’t eat much, which can easily change with eating more quality food. Others might be skinny despite eating a fair bit and might respond well to eating a lot of good food. Yet others could be eating decently well, train and increase their food and not grow that much.

      Returning to the topic of neck size, I find that on average men have a decent neck size (15-16 inches) without even training it. A similar thing happens with calves, although I think it is a bit less common to have decent-sized calves than decent-sized necks. My observation is that calves and necks are the most genetic-dependent muscles. You see untrained people with decent or good necks and calves, but the rest of their bodies might be small and weak, or maybe fat but without much muscle underneath. This is rarely the case with arms, upper legs, chest, or back. The sad part is that some guys like me might have a bad starting point with calves and neck and, despite training and eating more (just before you start to gain too much fat), there isn’t much growth. The guy who wrote this blog post was just lucky that he had a great response to training his neck despite having a below-average starting point.

  12. Jørgen on June 30, 2021 at 6:22 am

    What a great article! This is excactly what I have been looking for. Great structure and flow. I have been training for around 4 months and have gone from 14.5 inches to 15.35 inches.

    One question: You say that at your peak you trained your neck 3 times per week. How many days of recovery did you usually have between workouts? 1 or 2 days? A mix?

    Personally, I have been doing 2 days of recovery, ending up with 2 or 3 workouts per week, not always 3. I would like to train more often, but I am not sure if that is a good idea. Can I have only 1 day of recovery or do you recommend 2?

    • Shane Duquette on June 30, 2021 at 11:54 am

      That’s awesome, Jørgen! Congrats on your neck gains!

      When I was actively bulking up my neck, I would train it Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Training your neck twice per week should be similarly good. No worries about that at all 🙂

    • Gary on July 13, 2021 at 3:12 pm

      Less than an inch gained in FOUR MONTHS ?!?! Man up your calories or workload , that’s a disgrace

      • Shane Duquette on July 13, 2021 at 4:18 pm

        Gaining almost an inch in four months is totally sweet.

        • Jørgen on December 28, 2021 at 4:53 am

          Thanks!
          Now I have around 15.8 inches , and 16.5 after a workout.
          The reason it has taken some time is because i have lost some weight during that time, 1 -2 kg only. Easier to gain when you are eating more calories ofc.

          I think the perfect size is around 16 to 16.5 max. I am 188, am well trained.

  13. Glen on September 22, 2021 at 10:02 am

    What are the best tricep exercises for bulking up the arms?

  14. Nicholas on January 17, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Shane, hope you are good.

    Loving your input on this. You clearly articulate yourself very well.

    As I’m recovering from cancer, this is an area I need your help with. I was wondering, how did you complete your sets of neck curls, neck extensions, and neck raises?

    For example, did you do a set of neck curls, a set of neck extensions, and then a set of neck raises in a circuit format, or did you do a few sets of one exercise before moving on to another?

    Kind regards.

    • Shane Duquette on January 17, 2022 at 3:20 pm

      Hey Nicholas, I hope you’re doing well, too! Thank you.

      I do most of my training in circuits most of the time. With my neck exercises, I would do a set of neck curls, wait a minute, then do a set of neck extensions, wait another minute, and then back to neck curls.

      I didn’t do many of the neck side raises, but when I did, I did them after the neck curls and extensions. I’d do one side, then the other, then back to the first side, and so on.

      I hope that helps, and good luck with your recovery from cancer. I wish you the best.

  15. Sunrise on April 5, 2022 at 8:16 am

    Hey Shane,

    I was doing “The Minotaur” x2 per week and added 2cm to my neck, while bulking on b2B, cool!

    Actually, I switched to Inferno.
    Could you please enlighten me, how I could maintain those 2cm while cutting ?

    I’m about to continue those 2 times per week, but I dont know for how much sets, 2-3 ? same for weights and reps, do I need to change it for something like 10-15 reps instead of 20 and increase the weights a little ?

    In the meantime, thank you so much for your attention and participation.

    • Shane Duquette on April 5, 2022 at 6:01 pm

      Dude, that’s awesome! Nice job!

      Okay, so, the bad news about cutting is that we store some fat in our necks. You might lose some neck size. The good news is that you won’t lose MUSCLE size in your neck, you’ll just lose some fat there. Just keep training your neck and you’ll be set. You can train it like before. No change needed. And keep fighting for progressive overload, too. You might keep making good progress 🙂

      • Sunrise on April 8, 2022 at 2:49 pm

        Oh! didn’t see the response. Ah, I did not confirm the subscription received by email. My bad.

        Do you mean that I can still gain size even while cutting or is it just for maintaining?

        Actually, I switched to 2 sets but increased the weights so I can save some time. But if you say that it’s best to overload, I’ll do so.

        • Shane Duquette on April 10, 2022 at 6:33 am

          It’s sometimes possible to gain some muscle while cutting. Not always, but sometimes. I’d at least try for it.

          Thing is, you’ll lose fat while cutting, too, right? And you’ve got fat in your neck. As you lose that fat, your neck will get smaller. So even if you gain or maintain neck size, your neck measurement might still go down. Maybe. Again, I’d still try for gains.

          Progressive overload is a crucial part of stimulating muscle growth. If you aren’t adding weight or reps over time, you probably aren’t going to build muscle, at least not in the longer term. You need to keep trying for gradual improvements. Otherwise, it’s just a maintenance routine. But that’s fine while eating in a calorie deficit or at maintenance. Sometimes that’s the best we can do 🙂

        • Shane Duquette on April 10, 2022 at 6:33 am

          It’s sometimes possible to gain some muscle while cutting. Not always, but sometimes. I’d at least try for it.

          Thing is, you’ll lose fat while cutting, too, right? And you’ve got fat in your neck. As you lose that fat, your neck will get smaller. So even if you gain or maintain neck size, your neck measurement might still go down. Maybe. Again, I’d still try for gains.

          Progressive overload is a crucial part of stimulating muscle growth. If you aren’t adding weight or reps over time, you probably aren’t going to build muscle, at least not in the longer term. You need to keep trying for gradual improvements. Otherwise, it’s just a maintenance routine. But that’s fine while eating in a calorie deficit or at maitenance. Sometimes that’s the best we can do 🙂

  16. Alden on April 12, 2022 at 3:46 pm

    Hey Shane,

    just wanted to let you know regarding the following statement in your article:

    “Neck size […] I’d expect it to be strongly linked with attractiveness. But since neck size hasn’t been studied in isolation from overall muscularity, we can’t really be sure, let alone put a specific number to it.”

    There has now actually been a study published last year which examined the isolated effect of neck and upper trapezius muscularity on perceived strength, masculinity, and short- and long-term attractiveness (using a set of photorealistic male images).

    Here is the link.

    Caton and Lewis (2021): Intersexual and intrasexual selection for neck musculature in men: Attractiveness, dominance, and actual fighting success.
    https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/yez3t

    So it’d be good to update that sentence in your article briefly.

    Cheers,
    Alden

  17. Jacob Stamm on May 13, 2022 at 9:34 am

    Awesome article. I’m using it as a kickoff to my own neck training. I didn’t realize until I read this that my neck is currently my biggest aesthetic imbalance.

    Regarding the at-home neck exercises, I’ve heard that neck bridges introduce an unnecessary injury risk due to spinal compression in a way that the plate exercises don’t. What do you think of this isometric variation on the neck bridge? Do you think it’s worth mentioning in the article? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gHu6By2GMA

  18. Prashant Jamal on July 25, 2022 at 8:39 am

    Should we do all the major three exercises in a day or only one of them

    • Shane Duquette on July 25, 2022 at 9:51 am

      I’d do them all in one day. That way you can warm up your neck beforehand, do the exercises together, and maybe even superset them. It won’t take long and it’s not very tiring.

    • Zero on October 6, 2023 at 12:53 pm

      Nice article

      I have been doing neck exercises with an elastic band thrown around the rogue cage, in between my other sets. Standing sideways and wrapping the band around the forehead, and turning from neutral neck to one side. Then turning around and doing the other side.

      I like the elastic band, because its pretty simple to change the angle of the exercise by tilting the head in different angles- like totally neutral /parallel with the ground, or more diagonal-down toward one side. It feels clear that different neck muscles are being engaged- and while your article focuses on those that directly contribute to visible appearance, theres a number of much smaller stabilizer muscles at the very base of the skull that i can feel activate with the band. Plus, an added bonus is the engagement of the obliques.

      Great article, ill definitely be adding some of these neck curl exercises with plates as well. I’m less motivated to have a big neck than i am for the functionality of how it will help in mma.

      • Shane Duquette on October 6, 2023 at 1:31 pm

        Thanks, Zero!

        I’m usually not a big fan of resistance bands, but I agree that they can be really handy for neck exercises. Your approach sounds great.

        Big necks and MMA go great together, for sure. I think MMA becoming more popular is part of why neck training is going more mainstream. All these thick-necked fighters look awesome. (As in, the guys with the most functional necks seem to be inspiring the aesthetic trend.)

  19. A.M. on September 20, 2023 at 12:40 pm

    Hey, love the site! A tremendous resource. A word of caution – I was curious about the connection between sleep apnea and neck size, and found a number of posters on reddit with a claimed wrestling background who had issues, especially when their neck size was 18″+. I think the issue is that it even when it’s muscle, it’s still constricting your airway, because it’s not muscle used to open your airway or some such thing. So your personal practice of training to 16″ is sound. I’d hesitate to go beyond 16.5″, not to mention the challenge of finding dress shirts that fit after that.

    • Shane Duquette on September 20, 2023 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks, man!

      Yeah, it seems to be a thing. I’ve read those threads, too. If anyone would know about bulking up their necks, it’s wrestlers and fighters.

      I’ve always thought it would be cool to have a neck too big for dress shirts, but perhaps that dream is best seen from a distance.

  20. Alex on October 17, 2023 at 6:52 pm

    Excellent article!

    I really enjoyed reading you. I started neck training about 2 weeks ago. (My neck circumference is approximately 14⅛” at 5’11”.) Now I am even more motivated to continue training!

    But a question is nagging my mind: I have a fairly long and thin neck which tends to lean slightly forward. Will there be a big difference on the profile, even if I gain only 0.5 or 1 cm in neck circumference? If I work the trapezius and also the sternocleidomastoid muscles, will it affect the silhouette? Based on your personal experience, what do you think?

    Thank you in advance for your response!

    And sorry for the potential mistakes in English. Regards from France!

    • Shane Duquette on October 18, 2023 at 2:02 pm

      Thank you, Alex!

      My neck started off at about that size, too.

      What you’re describing is your neck posture. You’ve got “Forward Head Posture.” A lot of us skinny guys have that. I definitely did.

      Building stronger neck muscles can help you hold your head more upright. So can “packing your neck” when you lift weights. You’d tuck your chin when doing exercises like squats and deadlifts, making a double chin.

      But posture goes deeper than that. Neck posture is usually in response to hip and shoulder posture, so you’ll make better progress if you focus on strengthening your posture overall. Think of getting stronger at exercises like push-ups, planks, dead bugs, goblet squats, front squats, and deadlift variations. Think of doing those exercises with a more neutral hip posture. You could think of “bringing your belt buckle towards your belly button.”

      If you can lift with good posture, strengthening your postural muscles under heavy load, then I think it will help your posture overall. Even just being mindful of your posture can help. So can being active in general.

  21. Alex on October 18, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you for your structured answer!

    I started working on my posture few days ago.

    Since adolescence, I’ve had a neck that bends slightly downward, though I think it’s getting better now. It’s been 2 days since my neck stayed straight.

    So I would think about continuing to work on my posture while strengthening my neck, which will certainly help improve my posture, as you say.

    I will take all your advice into account. I hadn’t noticed that I was tucking my chin when I doing some exercises to develop the trapezius muscles!

  22. Sebastian on January 5, 2024 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Shane, nice update. I like that you included bodyweight neck exercises. We used to do some of them in our warm up and mobilty and strength drills in track & field. Even in non contact sports a stronger neck is helpful.

    • Shane Duquette on January 6, 2024 at 10:02 am

      Thanks, Sebastian!

      Yeah, a stronger neck is really handy. I don’t even play any sports, but I notice the extra size, strength, and toughness when playing with my son.

  23. Yannick on January 18, 2024 at 10:58 am

    Hi Shane,

    this is an awsome article! I am looking for neck training content since some time and yours hit the nail on the hat, containing all information and giving all answers I was looking for, going deep enough to truely understand the backgrounds but without exaggerating the level of details so it gets hard to follow.
    Also the fact that you made the experience on your own makes everything what you said even more credible and the fact that you were skinny with a skinny neck does perfectly correspond to my situation.
    Finally, it is really remarkable that even four years after the publication of this article you still seem to answer to most of the comments.

    Keep up the good work!

    Greetings from Germany!
    Cheers Yannick

    • Shane Duquette on January 18, 2024 at 5:01 pm

      Thank you so much, Yannick! Good luck bulking up your neck. Let me know if you run into any issues or have any questions.

  24. Owen Ransford on February 24, 2024 at 7:24 pm

    Hi, I think side raises are the best sternocleidomastoid exercise, as they are they are actually the main function of the muscle and allow equal training to avoid imbalances.

    I also believe from experience that the bottom half of the SCM is more active when going foward from neutral neck to flexion. While the top half beneath the mastoid process is more active when going foward from extension to neutral. I think I have personally discovered this, because I can’t find this info anywhere online 😉

    I love this website, its my favourite.

    Owen.

    • Shane Duquette on February 26, 2024 at 1:00 pm

      Thank you, Owen! I did relatively few side raises while bulking up my neck, but I’ve added them in since then, as part of my maintenance routine. I agree that they’re great. And you’re right that they could be good for balancing out your neck muscles.

      I’m not sure about which parts of the range of motion activate different parts of the SCM, but I’d guess that when it’s stretched (at the bottom of the range of motion), it’s activating more of the distal portion (the part that connects to your skull). We see that pattern with a bunch of other muscles.

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