Like all muscles, the neck muscles, particularly the sternocleidomastoid muscles, respond well to hypertrophy training, which means size. So how often should you work your neck? Obviously, it depends on your training experience, diet, and recovery.
If you’ve never worked your neck before, you will be able to get great newbie gains with your neck muscles.
But you also need to temper your excitement because if you’ve never trained them before, the first time you do, you’ll likely get very, very sore with an awful case of DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness.)
DOMS in your legs is bad enough, but having DOMS in your neck, makes you feel like you’ve caught a bad cold. Your neck is swollen, every movement you do hurts, and it’s hard to think well or work well.
So with that said, in my experience, you should ease into neck training super slowly. For example, someone could start with just one set per workout to see how you do. Once you see how your body responds, you can try adding another set.
So with that said, I don’t like doing split training with the neck and hammering it with a dozen sets in one day and then not training it for a whole week. I much prefer to do fewer sets in one day and instead do a higher frequency neck workout to get the volume up.
For example, if you work out three times a week, you could toss on two sets of neck workouts at the end of your workouts. If you do that after each workout, you’ll have six total sets of neck workouts each week. Then you could increase the sets, if needed, to three sets per workout. And now you’re at nine sets per week. This is much better to spread out the volume rather than doing nine sets of neck workouts in one session. That is a recipe for crazy DOMS and an awful few days.
Once you’ve gotten used to training your neck, you can use your own judgement as to how often you’ll need to train it to continue to get results. Some people may want to train it more often, and some will like to train it less often. You can experiment and see what works for you.
But to start, I can’t emphasize this enough, but DOMS in your neck is really not a pleasant experience, and to take any neck training extremely slow. Always talk to your medical professional before starting any sort of workout.
The three best exercises for building up your neck muscles are:
- Neck Curl. This is when you curl your chin towards your chest. You can lay down on a bench and use the weight of your own head to start. Focus on control and going slowly. After some time, you may need to hold a light weight plate on your head to continue to challenge your neck.
- Neck Extensions. This is when you extend the back of your head and move it closer to your upper back. You can lay down on a bench on your stomach and pull your head back. Over time, you may need a plate on top of your head to get enough stimulus.
- Neck Side Raises. A neck side raise is when you bring your ear closer to one side of your shoulder. You will need to repeat this on the opposite side. You can lay on your side on a bench and bring your head up to your shoulders. Flip and do the other side. Like the other exercises, eventually, you may need a weight plate to make the exercise challenging enough.