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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 methods.

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 pattern.

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 different directions.

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
Coach Gaglione

 If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at gaglionestrength@gmail.com or check out my website www.gaglionestrength.com

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 gaglionestrength@gmail.com.