Stick Your Neck Out
by Marc Spataro
From a training standpoint, one of the most over looked body parts is the neck. While the muscles in the neck get used every day and secondarily they are engaged during workouts, most everyone neglects specific exercises in order to strengthen these all-important supporters of our heads.
The neck contains approximately 20 muscles that are responsible for rotation (looking side to side), lateral flexion (ear to shoulder), flexion (chin to sternum) and hyperextension (looking up).
As racers our necks are subjected to additional stress and strain from wearing our helmets. Have you ever raced with a helmet covered in mud? For those of you that have, you understand how a little extra weight can give you a sore neck for a couple of days. Strengthening and conditioning your neck will not only help with your over all performance but it can also help to prevent injuries as well.
I have chosen both static and dynamic exercises to build neck strength and endurance. Static exercises are to be held 10-30 seconds and the dynamic ones for reps of 10-15. Neck training should be progressed in the same way as any other training method; that is you should attempt to do a little more (weight, reps, seconds, etc.) each week. Never train your neck muscles to failure. Over training your neck muscles could prevent them from properly doing their job and increase your potential for injury.
|Wrestler's Stability Ball
Bridge: Start Position
The wrestler's stability ball bridge is not only great for developing neck strength but also helps to develop the core musculature, aids in spine stability, and loads the calves, hamstrings, and glutes!
|Head Off Exercises|
Exercises that can be performed while your head has no foundational support will help to develop the muscles of the neck. As my example demonstrates, by using a stability ball during this pressing movement I not only activate the muscles in my neck but also the ones in my core, glutes, and hamstrings!
|Static Front Hold
||Static Lateral Hold
Static neck holds may look simple but after completing 1-3 sets you will soon have a new found respect for these exercises. In order to increase the difficulty of the hold, continue to place your feet further from the ball. Engage your abdominal wall and glutes to increase stability while performing these exercises.
On a final note if you are suffering or have suffered from any kind of neck injury be sure to consult with your physician before starting any program.
About the Author: Coach Marc Spataro specializes in motorcycle and ATV racers and currently works with many of the top pros in the GNCC and WORCS series. Some of his clients include 9x Champion Bill Ballance, 8x ATV/5x motorcycle Champion Barry Hawk, and the current WORCS ATV Series Champion Beau Baron. Marc's business, Moto Pro Training is located in Baltimore, Maryland and hosts specialized conditioning camps twice a year for amateur and professional level racers. Marc is also a life long racer himself, helping him to understand exactly what racers need to succeed. For further information check out his website www.motoprotraining.com. Thank you!
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.