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[ CC2 ] Neck training : alternatives ?

Olive

New member
Hi,

Is someone doing Convict Conditioning 2 neck training ?

I've started the preliminary steps for a few months and have reached the progression requirements. Just tried yesterday the fulle exercises and did 2x5 reps of the wrestler's bridges, but couldn't do front bridges, I could keep the starting position, but moving really felt unsafe ; even with a very reduced RoM. And even for the wrestler's bridge, I don't feel like it's safe for the neck's health.

The risk of debilitating injury isn't worth it imo. I'm actually looking for some alternative exercises. Any ideas ?
 

martymonster

New member
Hi Olive

I do the Wrestlers Bridge, but not the Front Bridge. I find with the latter that I just can't hold a position worth talking about. On the other hand the Wrestlers Bridge is easy to hold position and doesn't seem to overtax my neck.

Alternative exercises are few on the ground, the best I've found involve putting an exercise ball against the wall and leaning your head into it and using your neck muscles to drive the ball around in figure 8's. But again its a difficult exercise to set up.
 

GreenSoup

New member
Hi Olive, in what way do they feel unsafe? I never assume I will fall while standing because my legs are reliably strong enough to hold me up. I built up that same feeling with my neck for the WB while using the preliminary steps as written. Also, be sure to keep your feet wide enough for better stability. Less so for the FB, but I assume that needs more strength and mobility than I currently have.


Did you use the one-hand assisted Wrestler's Bridge? Just like Wade says, you build strength using the lower steps and demonstrate it with higher steps. The one handed version requires a lot of neck balancing strength and translated well to the full version for me. I can do 7 full reps now and I'll work slowly. My ROM is not chest-to-wall but it is fine and comfortable.


For the full Front Bridge on the floor I still need hand assistance except for the midrange. I actually have strained my neck ligaments working too far into the end ranges of motion. So when I recovered I decided I would apply extra assistance at the end range. Don't work the ends too hard.


If you still do not like the idea of neck bridging but want neck work there are alternatives:
1) Using the wall for front bridges. This is actually excellent with a garden kneeler as a head pad and allows you to work out the end ranges of mobility. I sometimes use this in place of arm assistance.
2) Using an elevated surface for wrestler's bridges.
3) Self-resistance isometrics. You can't tell how hard you're pressing but at least it is some work.
4) Neck harness training. Definitely not bodyweight so you will imagine Coach Wade scowling at you.

I'm curious if others have training suggestions for the neck too. Thank you for sharing Martymonster.
 

Springdragon

New member
Decent neck exercises are hard to come by. Most of what I see involves harnesses and cables, which ultimately only reproduce the bridging motions, except with far more cumbersome equipment.

If you don't feel safe doing wrestler's bridges and front bridges, why not just use your hands for support? Use your arms to take enough weight off that you feel comfortable, and work the exercise for higher reps (like 20+) so that you know for sure the weight isn't too much for your neck to support.

I personally had some trouble injuring myself with neck training, since I'm in love with the 1-3 rep range for all my exercises, and obviously training for maximal strength in a body part like the neck is a tremendously stupid idea. Thankfully I didn't paralyze myself and the worst inconvenience I suffered was being unable to turn my head to the right for about 2 weeks, but yeah, lower resistance and higher reps are safer for this, at least until you're a little more advanced and your neck is sufficiently conditioned.

Anyway, I did the hand assistance thing after I got tired of neck injuries, and it's worked out well for me so far. Haven't hurt myself since then, and at this point I can do "front neck planks," I guess you'd call them. Like holding a plank, except with your forehead.
 

Ace83

New member
If you can get past his personality...

I still do wrestling neck posting drills and neck harness work, but for the most part with those my neck is holding stable positions while I move...

I also do the drills from this guy (see link below), his personality is weird but these feel so much better than the old floor nods and glides in various directions.

I also like the fact that it drives along the atlas glide lines and leaves the rest of your neck vertebrae fairly aligned. Like you, I don't like to overly flex my neck under load.

One last note about neck training, pushing the whole tongue against the roof of the mouth (while it is in its normal position) fires the deep neck flexors and is essential for neck training safety.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mlAtYoa5PkM

Thats what I do anyway...
 
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Olive

New member
Hi guys, thank for your answers. To sum-up why I suddenly felt the urge to reconsider neck training, I did a few searches after my first attempts at the 'master' steps and found that quote of Scott Sonnon where he advised against Wrestler's Bridges :

Scott Sonnen - Opinion on neck bridges - Martial Arts Planet

Don't have the link, but I also found in the comment on an article on neck training with Wrestler's Bridges and Front Bridges a guy who said he had trained a lot of competitive wrestlers. He said those bridges were wrestling techniques and shouldn't be used for 'fitness' ; it damaged the neck's structure and wrestlers often had damaged neck when they quit. OK, anyone can post a comment saying he trained champions for decades and knows everything, but still...

Martymonster, seems you're more advanced that I am, felt my neck for 2 days after only 2x5 reps of Wrestler's Bridges. Don't have a medicine ball, it may be doable with a baskett ball, but seems it may end with the head crashing on the wall. ;)

GreenSoup and Springdragon, reading your posts, I feel like I'm an idiot ;) . I should have thought to use hand assistaance for front bridges. Add an intermediary step really seems the way to go. One hand wrestler's bridges also seems a good idea instead of directly jumping to the 'master' step. Greensoup, I also like your 1 and 3. The 2 seem to require a lot of mobility (still have issues to do angled bridges).

Springdragon, I'm glad that you didn't damage your neck.

Ace83, good advice, keeping a correct posture should improve neck's health. Also Pavel's first drill of Super Joints should help to improve mobility, gonna do it again. The drill you linked seems very similar to harness training.

Also, instead of doing front bridges, maybe it's worth decomposing it into 2 exercises, one for the front moves and one lateral, like on this video between 0:41 and 0:58

 

Springdragon

New member
This was somewhat covered by the above video, but you might give this self-resistance stuff a try as well. Definitely seems safer than bridging, since you can always adjust the resistance to your own comfort level. Plus it's totally minimalist, which is always a plus.

 

Olive

New member
This was also somewhat covered by Ace83's link ;) . Though I was maybe wrong saying it was similar to harness training, it seems also inspired by isometrics (minimal RoM).
 

GreenSoup

New member
Olive, that is an interesting link from Scott Sonnon. How strange that he used that lawsuit as something against bridging.
SPORTS COACH & PHYSICAL ACTIVITY INSTRUCTORS LEGAL DUTIES OF CARE January 1996, Parks & Recreation
Notice how this thread is about football player hitting each other without helmets, not neck bridge training per se. Maybe it is dangerous if it is not progressive and comfortable. I would argue though that you can't progress to breaking baseball bats on shins, but people CAN become comfortable with bridging. I'm not sure about nose-to-floor on the spine though since I'd like SOME space for my disks not to be too pinched. That is the clearest agreement. Some doctors complain about squats and suggest the shearing forces of knee extensions. Who knows what is right?
 

Ace83

New member
For fun, a little explanation...

A large component of neck health is managing shear, torsion, and compressive forces passing through the spine. When you flex forward your vertebrae tilt and glide on the vertabrae below them. This squishes (compression) the front of your inter vertebral disc (think shock absorbers between your vertebrae) which bulge forward, and it stretches (tension) the back of your disc. Higher cycles between flexion and extension under load have been linked with increased risk of various disk disorders. One of the benefits of the static hold that I use (while still taking advantage of the glide function produced by the top two vertebrae) is that it provides a safer alignment of the disks while allowing me to strengthen my musculature and and ligaments. Esther Gokhale found the societies which still carry heavy objects on the crown of their head have surprisingly heathy inter cervical disk health into old age, compared to industrial societies, in which cervical degeneration is far more common.

Now, on the negative side of the equation is the cases of yoga instructors and practitioners suffering debilitating injuries from years of poses similar to what we are talking about here (although not always involving the neck, these positions are in some ways similar to those needed to work the neck on the ground):

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?referrer=&_r=0

As well as studies referencing foramen narrowing as a cause of concern for those who extensively neck bridge. Or in other words, as your cervical disks bone density increases in response to the necessity of supporting your weight, the small holes your nerves travel through get smaller and become constricted as a result.

Anyway, the point I'm getting at is that the neck and spine shouldn't be trained like the arms and legs. Your limbs are like the wheels on a car, the spine and its attached muscles are like the transmission. Of course I'm not a doctor and this is not advice. I just thought it might help keep the discussion alive!
 
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Olive

New member
I guess that's a good reminder of the 'listen to your body' principle of yoga.

Also, after reading this article, I realize that rotating the head at full RoM for the third part of the Trifecta is maybe not the best idea...
 

GreenSoup

New member
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?referrer=&_r=0

As well as studies referencing foramen narrowing as a cause of concern for those who extensively neck bridge. Or in other words, as your cervical disks bone density increases in response to the necessity of supporting your weight, the small holes your nerves travel through get smaller and become constricted as a result.

Ace83, I have been thinking about this and certainly do not want that effect. Do you happen to recall the names of the foramen narrowing articles you had mentioned? I would love to make the most informed neck decision possible. My whole purpose in neck bridging is to protect a possible weak link to become antifragile, along with being badass. Creating a weak link is not something I want on the menu.

But if the expanded bone density from bridging could cause a narrowing of space for the spinal cord, wouldn't any load-bearing work cause the same problem? Or would it be just for those who do neck bridges and then lift gigantically loaded barbells for more weight?

Would that only leave Maxick-styled muscle control for neck training if one wanted to avoid the foramen narrowing? What are your thoughts?
 
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