If you’ve ever been in a crowd and tipped your head a bit to the side to see something, or perhaps if you’ve given a head fake in basketball, you employed the scalene muscles, a set of six muscles in the back of your neck. The scalenes, also known as lateral flexors, help you dip your head so your ear moves closer to your shoulder. Building up the scalenes and your other neck muscles helps you move and stabilize your head, which is particularly important in fast-moving sports such as soccer, basketball and hockey, where contact is inevitable.
Lying Neck Resistance
Lie face down on a flat bench so the tops of your shoulders just overhang the bench’s short end.
Grasp a small dumbbell in both hands and hold it on the back of your head as you face forward.
Inhale as you lower the top of your head slowly toward the floor while you hold the weight against your head.
Exhale as you raise your head back to the starting position. Perform at least eight reps.
Turn face up on the bench and repeat the exercise while you hold the weight against your forehead.
Weighted Neck Extension
Sit on a chair or the edge of a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Lean your upper body forward so your shoulders are above your lower thighs.
Hold a small dumbbell against the back of your head and look down to assume the starting position.
Exhale as you lift your head until you’re looking forward. Keep the weight still against the back of your head.
Inhale as you return to the starting position. Perform at least eight repetitions.
- You can use a weight plate in place of the dumbbell in both exercises. In either case, you may be more comfortable if you place a small towel on your head beneath the weight.
- Begin with a light weight. Using a weight that’s too heavy may result in a neck injury. You can always try a heavier weight if the first one is much too light.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.