John Gaglione's Post Season Wrestling
Training # 2
Advanced Neck Training Exercises for Wrestling
Neck training is of paramount importance to combat athletes. Once the athlete
masters the basic chin tuck series they should progress to more difficult
variations. I personally like to utilizing bands or body weight for these
exercises since there is much less pressure on the cervical spine then when
doing traditional neck harness exercise with weights.
When you think about it most of the time in wrestling you are using your neck
muscle to try and RESIST movement rather than produce it, so wouldnít you want
to train your neck in a similar fashion? Most of the exercises shown are
performed with isometric (static) holds in order to train the neck for both
strength and stability.
Whether you are defending a snap down or a half nelson from bottom, have a
strong and thick neck will help you out in the sport of wrestling. Intense neck
training can be tough during the season, which is why neck training during the
off season is a perfect time to start using some of these advanced training
The band neck variations are great when an advanced athlete doesnít have a coach
or an adequate partner to provide manual resistance. When doing loaded
variations we like to make sure we train to resist all directions the neck can
go in flexion, extension, and lateral flexion. The only one we donít train is
rotation, since I have yet to find an effective and safe way to train this
My favorite loaded exercise to start wrestlers off is the
band neck good morning. This will help a wrestler learn to keep good posture and
resist snap downs from their opponents. I like to do 3-5 sets of 5 reps with a
five second hold each rep.
For all of these progressions want we want keep a neutral
cervical spine and keep the chin tucked at all times. We can use a resistance
band resist movement in all directions except for rotation. Make sure to
maintain good position and not overdue the amount of load used.
We can also use bands attached to a pole or chin up bar to resist
flexion, extension, and lateral flexion. Remember bands are a form or
accommodating resistance so the further the band stretches the harder the
exercise will be. The exercise can be made more difficult, by stepping further
away from the anchor point. You can also adjust the difficulty of the band
exercises by using a smaller or larger band. The thicker the band the harder the
exercise will be. Here are some examples below. This is great exercise to train
wrestlers to keep there neck in a neutral position when wrestling form the
bottom. This will aid in defending all types of pinning combinations such as
half nelson and cradles where your opponent is trying to wrench your neck in all
Another way to train all four directions of the neck is to
utilize a stability ball against the wall. Again I like to use multiples sets
and reps with a five to ten second hold in each direction. As the athlete gets
more proficient they can inch their way away from the wall to increase the
difficulty or they can hold for a longer time. Again it is extremely important
to keep the chin tucked at all times.
Make sure to only use these variations with
your advanced athletes. We do not want to use an advanced exercise in our neck
training too quickly. We want to build up the muscles over time and make sure
the movement quality is spot on!
If you do not have access to weights or bands
you can use the weight of your partner or coach as resistance. This is still
much more advanced than manual resistance. This is a great option for coaches
who donít normally implement neck exercises in their training. You can start off
with static holds in quadruped (on all fours) position and progress from there.
The partner can simply lean their body weight on the
athlete from a forward and side position. The athlete can lean on their partner
at a more shallow angle (more horizontal and close to the floor) to increase
difficulty or perform push ups to make the environment more unstable. Make sure
the partners are very close in body weight of course. This variations will train
both anti-flexion(from the front) and anti-lateral flexion(from the side).
When dealing with heavier athletes I suggest using a very
steep angle (more vertical and further away from the floor) since the athlete
with have a much greater load to deal with due to the large body weight of their
partner. You can perform these variations from quadruped, push up, or plank
position to vary the difficulty.
Once you master the basic chin tuck techniques for neck training try out some of
the more advanced exercises shown in this article. Use these exercises with
caution and progress slowly and never go to failure! These exercises will
greatly improve your performance on the mat since you will be able to hold your
position much better and be able to defend your opponentís techniques as well.
Educate, Motivate, Dominate
If you have any questions feel free to
e-mail me at
firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my website
To take your wrestling to the next level and ensure this coming wrestling
season is your best one ever go to GaglioneStrength.com and e-mail Coach
Gaglione for more information on wrestling training.
Coach John Gaglione is a Sport Performance Specialist out of Long Island New
York. He is a certified "Underground" Strength coach who specializes in training
combat athletes. Johnís work has been featured in
Elite Fitness Systems,
Testosterone Nation ,
One Result & local wrestling site Long Island Wrestling Association.
If you would like to learn more about John you can reach him at
www.gaglionestrength.com or e-mail him at