Work Your Neck! – Iron Neck Review
When it comes to strength and conditioning in Jiu-jitsu, many people limit this to every other part of the body except the neck. The neck is overlooked because for one, a lack of insight into its importance or utility, or two, because there isn’t much equipment to train the neck.
The problem with not training or strengthening your neck isn’t so much utility but instead injury prevention. In the past, as an instructor, I’ve seen a couple of injuries to students that prevented them from ever returning. Can you guess where these injuries occurred?
That’s right… The neck.
In my experience, strengthening the neck is crucial due to the risk profile of having a weak neck. Having a strong neck won’t necessarily make your submissions tighter or pressure feel any heavier but it will go a long way to keeping you training.
Jiu-jitsu is a grappling art. As such, jiu-jitsu uses a variety of joint locks and strangulations. Some schools will even allow neck cranks, which will do some pretty severe damage over time. I myself wondered why I always had headaches as a white belt only to realize later that the “Twister” was a neck crank and headaches were one symptom of a compromised neck. [Authors note: They went away when I moved and trained at a school that didn’t allow neck cranks].
Even if your school doesn’t allow neck cranks, we still have to worry about guillotine chokes, head and arm chokes, and other headlocks. Over time, the repeated abuse from these techniques will cause some issues if you don’t take care of yourself. Hopefully, the issues you have will be limited to some sore muscles but in the worst cases, herniations and bulging discs can occur (as in the case of the two students I mentioned earlier).
One product that has helped immensely with the ability to train the neck has been Iron Neck. Before we go further, I want to disclose that the Iron Neck has sent us a free product to use so that we could provide an honest review. Below are my thoughts on it after one month of use:
Before the Iron Neck, I trained my neck by lying supine and doing chin tucks. These are fantastic for the muscles in the front of the neck. I also trained my way up to doing “Wrestler’s Bridges” but I don’t recommend these for beginners.
When I received the Iron Neck, I was super excited about it right up until the point where I couldn’t quite figure out how to use it. I should note here, I’m not very good at using directions. My problem was that once I set it up, I kept trying to stare at the door mount. This created a little extra pull on the front of my head. After a few minutes, I realized I had to stop staring up and we were off to the races!
My initial thought once I got it working was “Holy Crap! This thing is awesome!”.
I started off with some head rotations, side to side. You could feel the light resistance activating the muscles of your neck but also your traps and areas of the spine I didn’t realize would activate. This demonstrated to me that the Iron Neck isn’t just working out your neck but also working to strengthen your posture from lower back and upward.
After a few minutes of rotations, I started experimenting with some of the other exercises. I would face the door and rotate. I would then face away from the door and rotate. I would turn my body side to side while keeping my neck stable. I would even do squats and lunges with it!
The versatility of this thing is INCREDIBLE!
I then looked up some videos on YouTube and the amount of stuff you can do is mind-blowing.
Getting back to what I like, after a month, here are a few of the things I enjoy most about using it:
Ease of use
Once you figure this thing out, it’s super easy and convenient. Once I get to the school, I strap it up to a door (I haven’t used the other attachments yet) and get to warming up my neck before classes. My students actually make fun of me because I’m ALWAYS using it. It’s that easy.
Ability to tackle the “harder to reach” muscles of the neck
Some of the more “old school” ways of training neck are great for rotating your head up and down which tends to
help the muscles of your neck in the front and rear. Unfortunately though, it’s more difficult to train your neck rotationally or in other planes. The Iron Neck allows you to train in so many different directions and planes, thus strengthening the muscles of your neck you probably didn’t even know you had.
Dynamic Aspect of Use
The versatility of this simple attachment is incredible. You can squat with it, lunge, do some core work, even drill some guard passes. There is seemingly no end to the number of ways you can train your neck.
Spine Stabilization Effects
This isn’t just a neck trainer. You can feel it in your whole spine as it stabilizes the resistance against your neck. I would avoid going too heavy on the resistance. The muscles of your cervical spine are much weaker than the rest of your spine. Start light and let your spine do it’s work.
And probably most importantly
This is probably the component I enjoy most about the Iron Neck. Having a strong, aesthetic looking neck is great, but the reality is, I prefer a functional and bullet-proof neck above all else.
In jiu-jitsu, just as in other martial arts, your neck is going to be cranked every which way and put a lot of miles on the discs and muscles that keep your neck intact. The Iron Neck is an incredible tool to keep your neck stable, safe and functional. I highly recommend this product.
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