No, your neck does not naturally get thicker from lifting weights. In fact, you may see your neck measurement drop a bit. This is because we store some fat on our necks, and a fat double-chin neck is correlated with heart disease. Many people lift weights to burn fat, and it can also help in terms of health, so lifting may help lean out your neck a bit (especially when combined with a proper diet.)
If you want a thicker, more muscular neck, you will need to train it to become more muscular.
Let’s talk about exercise specificity. In the same way that doing squats won’t make your chest muscles bigger, doing a bunch of big, compound lifts like deadlifts and squats won’t really help your neck muscles.
You will need to spend some time directly challenging your neck muscles if you want them to adapt to become bigger and thicker.
The good news is that your neck muscles respond to hypertrophy (size) training just like any other muscle. And so you can manipulate your workouts to challenge your neck muscles through volume (weekly sets), amount of reps, rest times, time under tension, range of motion, and whatnot.
The three best exercises for building up your neck muscles are:
- Neck Curl. This is when you curl in your chin to your chest. You can lay down on a bench and use the weight of your own head to start. After some time, you may need to hold a light weight plate on your head.
- Neck Extensions. This is when you extend the back of your head 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 sideways on a bench and bring your head up to your shoulders. Like the other exercises, eventually, you may need a weight plate to make the exercise challenging enough.
Take it easy. Your neck doesn’t like 1-rep-max but rather higher reps. Ease into the training as a sore neck muscle can often feel like you’re getting a cold.