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Tip: the neck trick for big arms



I first learned this from Charles Poliquin in 2003 and have been using this “trick” ever since. Often times, the technique will add a rep to an arm set or prevent losing a rep or two over the course of a workout.

It has to do with nerve transmission. As you improve nerve transmission, you can increase your strength. This makes perfect sense because anatomically, every muscle can be traced back to a nerve or series of nerves that run to the spine at a certain number of vertebrae.

In this case, nerves emanating from your cervical vertebrae (C4 through C7) control the muscles in your arms, and warming up that area actually results in more strength or repetitions during an arm workout.

Protocol calls for you to do a neck bridge on a Swiss ball first, but if your neck is the strength of your pinky finger it can be too overwhelming ̵

1; at least at first. If that’s the case, you have to prepare for the Swiss ball thing.

Try leaning your head against a wall and let it support your body as you lean back:

Wall neck exercise

However, if you’ve played a little soccer or wrestled a little – where neck bridges are a staple – switch straight to the Swiss ball version:

Swiss ball neck exercise

The goal is to hold a neck bridge for a minute. (Work up to this time if necessary.) Try to keep the neck straight or close to the straight line. As soon as your neck hits the ball or the wall, you have hit a mistake.

Increase the intensity by holding more and more weights in your hands. However, remember that neck strength is the bonus. They do this to develop arm strength. An example arm / neck routine might look like this:

  • A1. Standing Barbell Curl, 2020 Tempo, 5 sets, 8-10 reps.
  • No break.
  • A2. Dip, 2020 tempo, 5 sets, 8-10 reps.
  • No break.
  • A3. Swiss Ball Neck Bridge, 4 sets, 60 seconds each.
  • 60 seconds break.
  • B1. Hammer Curl, 2020 Tempo, 4 sets, 8-10 reps.
  • No break.
  • B2. Incline EZ-Bar Triceps Extension, 2020 Tempo, 4 sets, 8-10 reps.
  • 60 seconds break.

If you’re an accomplished weight lifter, you’re probably asking, “Yo, Michael, why don’t you start the routine with neck bridges?” Excellent question, meat. I learned that from Poliquin. He also didn’t start with them because he wanted to show people that the method works.

If this is your first time trying the method and starting with neck bridges, you won’t have a baseline to compare your results with.

However, as you start doing the arm exercises, you will find that performing the neck bridge resulted in you reaching or even exceeding the number of reps you hit in the first superset. When you’ve seen the light, you can move the neck bridges to the beginning.

Related: Get More Nerve!

Related: Crush more weight with this CNS trick

reference

  1. Fradkin, AJ, Zazryn, TR & Smoliga, JM (2010). “Effects of Warming Up on Exercise Performance: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24 (1), 140-148.

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