The Wrestler's Bridge is one of the most effective neck strengthening exercises. Bridging will increase flexibility while strengthening the back, neck, and legs. There are several variations of the bridge.
Please note that you should NOT perform any of these exercises if you have preexisting neck or back injuries. If you feel pain at ANY time, stop immediately. Always consult with a physician before starting a new exercise program.
Stationary Bridge - In this version, I rest my weight on my forehead. I hold this position for several minutes. I keep my arms folded across my chest. This is an excellent exercise but must be practiced with caution.
You may have trouble leaning your neck back this far at first. It takes time to develop neck strength and flexibility so be patient.
Reverse Bridge - In this version, I have reversed my position by facing the ground. Once again, be very careful when attempting this exercise. I hold this movement for several minutes. Start slow. I suggest that you begin with 30 seconds and see how it feels.
Rolling Bridges - The Rolling Bridge is excellent to develop the muscles of the neck. For this movement you will rock forward and backward on your head for 10-20 repetitions. You can perform this movement from a standard bridge position or while in the reverse bridge position.
Rock yourself from the beginning position to the end position.
You can also perform this exercise from a reverse position as illustrated below. These exercises will strengthen your neck like nothing else. I strongly encourage you to include these exercises in your routine if you compete in a combat sport such as wrestling, grappling, boxing, or the martial arts.
Neck Strengthening Alternatives - If you have never exercised your neck before, you may wish to begin with an easier movement. You can strengthen your neck with basic isometric movements. Take your hand and press upward against your chin while pressing your head downward against your hand. You can also reverse this movement by pressing the head downward with your hand. Resist the downward force by pressing your head backwards against your hand. Perform these isometric exercises for 5 seconds at a time. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
Neck Circles- Another great exercise to increase neck flexibility and strength is a basic neck circle. For this exercise you simply rotate your head around in a wide, circular fashion. Perform this exercise clockwise and counterclockwise for 25 repetitions. This movement may appear easy but it will do wonders for your neck.
Your head should rotate in a circular direction similar to the arrow that is illustrated. Repeat in both directions.
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