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Neck Strength Training with Machines for Football: The Rogers 4-Way Neck and Others

RogersNeckMachine1

The Rogers 4-Way Neck is a great piece and to keep the cost down, there’s 2 different options.

Strength training the neck is important and I hope the “trickle down” affect keeps working. Professional football players take it seriously, large football universities take it seriously, the smaller football colleges are implementing it more and I hope to see more high school football programs take interest in doing it the right way. The number one reason why football players resistance train is to minimize the risk of injury to the body, so it should make sense to strengthen and enlarge the skeletal muscle around the most delicate part of our body.

There’s several neck machines to choose from.  I’m partial to certain machines because of their durability, optimal design (strength curve/cam design, seat adjustments, etc.) and cost.

Some machines have such poor design that it’s better for the lifter or coach to not use them. A poorly designed machine may have a cam design that doesn’t allow for the proper variable load through the range of motion. If the lifter is using the correct weight for front neck and the weight is uncontrollably heavy at the top of the range of motion (beginning neutral position), the cam on the machine probably has a poor strength curve and it’s better to not be used for that movement.

Coach Tip: During the eccentric portion of the repetition (returning back to the neutral beginning), the lifter should brace themselves through their arms and hands, wherever they may be holding onto or posted.  By doing this, it will limit movement of the torso and increase the tension on the neck and head muscles. This is something that may take time to understand and feel or it may come naturally. Either way, the torso and arms should not be moving during the exercise.

Finding the Correct Seat Height

RogersCam

Some machines have more than one adjustment. Here’s a face plate adjustment that some machines could have.

These rules apply for the use of all machines for neck training and it doesn’t matter which brand is being used.  First, don’t be in a rush to find the correct seat height.  It may take a few completed repetitions and some moving around to either figure out the seat height is correct or needs to be changed. Second, the feet should be firmly placed on the ground, the torso should be still and upright and the hands/arms should be firmly placed wherever is appropriately suggested for the particular machine.  While performing the repetition the faceplate should stay firmly placed against whichever part of the head it is making contact with, for that particular exercise. The only part of the body that should be moving, if the correct seat height is chosen, is the head or neck.

Coaches Tip:  There are often times when the coach or lifter thinks they have the correct seat height chosen for an entire workout, or even multiple workouts. Then something clicks and it’s just not feeling or looking right anymore. It could be that the amount of weight is making the cushion of the faceplate change how the pads used to fit the face. Whatever it may be, the coach and lifter should be in a constant state of evaluation for changing variables.    

Front Neck

Adjust the faceplate to hole number 5. When the lifter is placing the faceplate on their face, they should use their left arm and hand to gently put it into place while the torso is in the correct position.  This is safer than first putting the faceplate in position and then moving the torso, head, and neck into position. The lifter should be sitting approximately in the middle of the seat. If they are too far back, the torso will look like it is leaning forward.

When the seat and the faceplate setting are correct, the plate should fit firmly on the face through the entire range of motion. It should feel like it is pressing against the face. The chin should be about level with the bottom of the faceplate.  If the seat height is too low, the faceplate will slide up the lifters forehead when flexing the head and neck down. If the seat height is too high, it could limit the correct range of motion significantly. The upper body should be perpendicular to the floor and still. The hands should be firmly grasping the machines handles.

FrontNeck1

Here’s the neutral starting position…

Begin the movement by slowly flexing the head and neck down towards the chest, pause in the fully contracted position, and then return to the neutral beginning position slowly.

 

  1. Adjust faceplate to number 5
  2. The body should be sitting approximately in the middle of the seat, upright
  3. Use left hand to adjust the faceplate into proper position
  4. The faceplate should fit snug with no movement on the face during the exercise
  5. The hands should be firmly grasping the support handles
  6. Begin the movement by flexing the head and neck towards the chest
  7. Pause in the fully contracted position
  8. Return to the neutral beginning position

    RogersFrontNeck2

    The range of motion isn’t very big.

Back Neck

Adjust the faceplate to hole number 3. In most cases the seat height will be the same for back neck as front neck.  Look below to see the suggestions for proper hand placement. Wherever the hands and arms are, they should be posted firmly with no movement during the exercise.

Begin the movement with the neck and head in a neutral position. Slowly extend the neck and head backwards, pause in the contracted position, and then return to the beginning neutral position.  The head and neck should not flex past the beginning neutral position.

Rogers offers a handle on the front of the seat. If your arms are long enough, this can be a good place to post them. We’ve found that a lot of athletes can’t reach the handle without bending at the torso.  So posting the hands on the thighs is sufficient.

 

  1. Adjust the faceplate to number 3
  2. The body should be approximately in the middle of the seat, upright
  3. Position hands appropriately (handle or thighs)
  4. Movement should begin with head and neck in neutral position
  5. Extend the head and neck
  6. Pause in the fully contracted position
  7. Return to the neutral beginning positionBackStartPosition   

Right and Left Lateral Bend

Adjust the faceplate to hole number 3.  Again, the seat height for this movement is typically the same as the two previous.  Look below to see the suggestions for proper hand placement and where the hips should be placed. The chin should be approximately even with the bottom of the faceplate.

The range of motion for this movement is minimal.  The lifter should be looking forward and be able to minimize any rotation of the head during this movement.  Pay close attention that the shoulders begin at a level position and one does not move up or down during the repetition. Just like the other movements, the less movement for the torso will allow increased tension on the appropriate muscles in the neck and head.

BackNeck1

You can see that only the head and neck are moving during the repetition.

Begin the movement by laterally bending the head and neck as far as it may go without any movement anywhere else on the body, pause in the contracted position, then return to the beginning position.

A coaching tip for this movement is telling the athlete to move their ear to their shoulder.  They should always return to the neutral position and not go further before performing the next repetition.

 

  1. Adjust faceplate to number 3
  2. Inside thigh should be parallel to and touching the inside edge of the seat
  3. Lifter should be using the entire back portion of the seat
  4. See the picture to adjust hands appropriately
  5. Movement should begin with the head and neck in a neutral position
  6. Laterally bend the head and neck, with very limited to no movement in the torso and shoulders
  7. Pause in the contracted position and return to the neutral beginning position

    DSC_0092

    During right and left lateral bend, the lifter will probably want to move way more than necessary.

Coaches Tip: The articulating boney structures involved in lateral bending are not optimally made for a significant degree of lateral bend. If there is any question of safety, just limit the range of motion to a conservative range.  

DSC_0091

Notice how the shoulders did not tilt at all.

Come back next week and we’ll have some instructions for other neck machines, free weight neck training and manual resistance neck training.

 

 

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