November 26, 2021
Having a strong, thick neck signifies dominance and strength, a sign of someone you probably don't want to mess with. Perhaps it's an association with wrestlers or MMA fighters that gives it such an assertive appearance. Whatever the reason, if you want to look intimidating, you definitely need to train your neck...On the other hand, what you definitely DON'T want is a fat neck.
A fat neck can completely throw off your appearance and present an entirely different attitude. If you have a fat neck, getting rid of it can be frustrating as you don't know what you're supposed to do. Sure there are invasive neck fat removal procedures and neck fat surgery, but those are expensive and can add unnecessary risk. The good thing is that most people don't need these neck fat removal operations, so this article will give you all the information you need to get rid of your fat neck.
Time to get rid of that jiggly, fat neck and build a strong neck like this...
A "fat neck" is pretty descriptive and is exactly what is described; a neck with too much fat. This fat can be found anywhere on the neck, but the most obvious is on the front of the neck. This is commonly known as a "double chin". Surprisingly enough, the fat that causes a double chin has a specific medical term and is known as submental fat.
Another neck location where excessive fat can accumulate is on the back of the neck between the shoulder blades. This too, has a medical term and is known as the dorsocervical fat pad.
The fat that is found on the neck is just like the fat found on other areas of the body; there are multiple causes for its accumulation. The main reasons are as follows:
"Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Maybelline!" While this infamous little jingle refers to a great skin complexion, unfortunately, you might also be born with higher levels of neck fat. Technically, we should say that you may be predisposed to more neck fat meaning it will be easier for you to get and harder to keep off. However, in most cases, maintaining a firm neck is attainable by following a proper diet and training plan.
Whether you have great genetics or got the short end of the stick, obesity will exacerbate the condition. Basically this means that the more fat you have dictates how much neck fat you have. Again, your genetics will determine fat distribution, but losing weight is always going to be the primary method of reducing neck fat.
You can't stop the hands of time. As we get older, our skin loses elasticity and we lose muscle tone. Together, this creates more sagging of loose skin on the neck. While you can't stop aging, you can mitigate its effects by creating a strong, muscular neck and eating a diet (see below) with appropriate nutrients to keep tight, healthy skin.
Related: Fitness Tips for Seniors by a Senior
Poor posture is another major cause of a fat neck, specifically the dorsocervical fat pad on the back of your neck. Years of walking and sitting with your shoulders pulled forward can create clusters of knotted and tight muscles. This, along with weak posterior muscles in general, only exacerbates the issue. One good thing is that if this is the cause, it's actually more of a muscle issue than fat accumulation, so you need to improve your posture.
Further, if you have poor posture, your shoulders are pulled forwards which drives your head forward. This only exacerbates the appearance of your fat neck. You know how when you sit down and all of your stomach fat gets condensed and creates rolls? Well, that's exactly what happens with poor posture. It can take a slightly fat neck and turn it into a really fat neck.
Related: Fix Tech Neck
Having a fat neck is never a good thing. Its effects can range from unpleasing aesthetics to being an indicator of severe health issues. Here are the top reasons why you need to trim down your neck
For the majority of people, the first reason they want to get rid of a fat neck is most likely for simple aesthetic purposes. Getting to the point, a double chin has never been a desirable trait.
For one, it can severely magnify your current weight. In other words, let's pretend you have 20% body fat but a relatively tight neck. You will look significantly better as opposed to having a fat neck. Same person and same body but the neck makes all the difference in the world.
Secondly, a fat neck can leave a first impression. Whether we want to admit it or not, being obese can send signals to other parties that may or may not be true. Health is associated with discipline, and if you don't look healthy, it'll leave undesirable associations. Being that a fat neck can significantly affect our aesthetics, it can equally affect first impressions.
Related: The Best Aesthetic Workout Plan
Putting aesthetics aside, above we said that a fat neck can have more severe effects on your health. One of those medical issues is a condition known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be a serious health issue as it's a condition where you literally stop breathing in your sleep. Further, it's associated with loud snoring and interrupted sleep. This leads to a whole host of issues, including medical issues such as diabetes and decreased liver function as well practical problems such as daytime sleepiness, moodiness, and low testosterone levels.
Studies have shown that neck circumference is a strong indicator of sleep apnea development as well as it’s severity. Whether this is causation or just correlation, having a fat neck is not suitable for good health.
Related: The Importance of Sleep
Indicator Of Metabolic Risk And Other Chronic Diseases
As mentioned above, with sleep apnea, having a larger neck in circumference is a predictor of several serious health issues. One of the most prevalent diseases associated with a fat neck is a metabolic disease. In fact, this study even suggests that neck circumference be included in the medical definition of "metabolic disease."
Other serious health concerns associated with a large neck circumference include;
Again, it's much more likely that a large circumference is a predictor of these diseases rather than the direct cause in these cases, but that doesn't make it any less dangerous. The ill effects of having a fat neck go much deeper than not being aesthetically pleasing.
One of your first goals to get rid of neck fat is to decrease your fat mass and improve your body comp. The most effective strategy is by following a diet that incorporates whole foods and a caloric deficit. With those two variables, you should follow whichever diet best suits your lifestyle.
There are a ton of different diets out there; some are based on science and some are based on quackery. However, they all have in common that they all incorporate a caloric deficit as this is the primary means of weight loss. Therefore, in terms of weight loss, there's really no such thing as a "better" diet as long as you can adhere to it long-term. In fact, long-term adherence is the primary variable in determining if a diet is successful or not.
That being said, some diets do stick out as being more effective with adherence. A recent review published in 2020 of dozens of diets found that all of them have benefits and negatives. In other words, what might be good for trainee A may not be good for trainee B when their circumstances are taken into account.
However, one group of diets that seemed to be more effective in long-term lifestyle changes were "lifestyle modification diets". These are diets such as the Mediterranean diet and DASH as well as behavioral changes such as mindful eating, which merely has you eat slowly with intent while thinking about your food.
If you’re not sure where to get started, check out this article for everything you need to know.
Regardless, it doesn't matter really what diet you choose if you can’t stick to it. Adherence is key.
Luckily, there are actually quite great weight exercises that you can use to get rid of the fat neck while creating a firm and strong neck in the process. We will first look at the general neck and upper back exercises as we go through these exercises. These will be exercises that are a bit "bigger" in nature to create a strong foundation for your neck. Next, we will look at some neck-specific exercises to isolate the neck muscles.
One of the best ways to get rid of a fat neck is to keep it strong. Here are the best compound exercises that will keep the upper back and shoulders strong and muscular.
BARBELL FRONT SHRUGS
Barbell front shrugs are an excellent exercise to strengthen and grow your trapezius (trap muscles), specifically your upper trap muscles. The traps are the big bumps on the top of your shoulders on either side of your neck. However, the traps actually go higher than your shoulders and run all the way up your neck to the base of your skull. In this manner, it is very much your "neck muscle".
Barbell front shrugs are a tremendous shrug variation as you get a higher ROM than when the weight comes down to your side. However, even with this increased ROM, the ROM is still small when compared to other movements. Due to this, you want to use a heavier load for fewer reps. Further, you're going to pause at the top for 3-5 seconds to increase the time under tension.
Another variation of the shrug which you should be doing is actually a bit unique. An overhead shrug has you place a barbell or set of dumbbells in an overhead position with arms fully extended. Hold here, and then you will want to think about pressing the bar even higher and performing a shrug. Again, hold here for 3-5 seconds and come back down.
This variation works differently as the shoulders are fully flexed, which rotates the scapula upward. It's then that you perform the shrug which trains your traps and improves shoulder mobility and posture. Begin performing this exercise with a light load.
While you're messing with pressing things overhead, you might throw in some overhead pressing movements as well. Barbells, dumbbells, Swiss bars; all overhead pressing will strengthen your shoulder complex and upper back. Don’t stress too much as all overhead pressing as awesome and variety is even better so switch it up.
Carries refer to any movement in which you pick something up and carry it. This includes a wide variety of exercises such as;
These are some of the very best exercises you can do to strengthen your entire upper back and neck. Not only will these fix your fat neck, you'll also strengthen your whole body AND improve your grip strength.
Olympic lifters have some of the most muscular necks and traps there are. This is due to the high levels of force placed on the body to propel the barbell upwards, specifically the upper back and traps. When choosing what exercises to perform, both the snatch and clean are equally effective. However, you can also make some modifications or variations. As learning the Olympic lifts can be time-consuming, here are some more accessible versions you can perform.
FACE PULLS AND BAND PULL APARTS
Face pulls, and band pull-aparts are the two best posture exercises to strengthen your upper back and pull your shoulders back. Further, these two exercises are incredibly versatile in that you can use them in the 8-rep range for strength and very high reps (20+) for more muscular endurance and correcting posture.
If you were to think about your average daily life, a large majority of it takes place anteriorly or in front of you. Things such as writing or typing seem trivial, but they add up. Therefore, when performing these exercises, think about it as if you're trying to offset all of that movement. Plus, these are great mobility exercises on their own. Feel free to do these every day, either during your warm-up, as mobility work, or during your actual strength session. Regardless, these are going to fix your posture, which will mitigate your fat neck.
The above exercises are going to build an excellent foundation for your neck. After doing them, you'll have developed a massive upper back and traps, which will give you a neck of steel. Now we want to look at some neck-specific exercises you can perform.
When it comes to training the neck, there are three basic movements that you want to train.
Here are the best neck-specific exercises to really strengthen your neck in a functional manner.
Have you ever seen the neck of a wrestler, BJJ or MMA fighter? They're huge. It's like they all have tree trunks connecting their head to their body. One of the reasons is they do neck bridges like crazy. In their world, being able to prop your body's weight (and your opponent as well) on your neck can keep you from losing.
Without a doubt, neck bridges are the single best exercise you can do to strengthen your entire neck, and it's quite literally all you would ever need to do. As mentioned, a neck bridge consists of you getting on your toes and then resting your head on the ground to support the rest of your body weight.
However, you can stay stationary (which is what you should do if you're a beginner), or you can rotate your head around in different patterns. This effectively trains neck extension, neck flexion, and neck lateral flexion using your body weight. Plus, you can do this on your back or stomach providing even more angles. Below are some neck bridges to do.
Safety Warning: While neck bridging is definitely effective at building a strong neck, like many exercise, it doesn't come without risk. If you are concerned about being able to do this movement precisely to avoid injury, you can wait until you get help from a professional and build up initial neck strength by doing the following exercises.
NECK FLEXION AND EXTENSION
The rest of the movements can be done with a weighted plate, resistance band or a specialized neck harness.
Neck flexion and extension with a weighted plate is down laying down on a bench. You hold the plate to your forehead or back of head and move your head at the neck forward and then backward. For flexion lay on your back with the plate on your forehead, and for extension lay on your stomach with the plate on the back of your head. Start light (if you feel your neck is really weak, you can actually do this without any weight at all just to start).
Neck flexion and extension with a resistance band can be done standing up. Attach a band to a post at head level and put the other end around your head. Look away from the band for neck flexion, look towards the band for neck extension. Stand back at an appropriate distance so there is tension in the band when the neck is neutral. Next, you will pull the band with your neck for a full range of motion. You will then come back but instead of stopping at neutral, let the band pull your head farther. This will increase the range of motion and the effectiveness of the exercise.
If using a neck harness, you can do the same thing, except you need to lay down on your back for neck flexion. For neck extension, you can simply bend over.
NECK LATERAL FLEXION
Neck lateral flexion with a weighted plate is done while laying on your side. Be sure to work both sides.
With a band, you will set up for lateral flexion in a similar manner as the above, but with your shoulders lined up with the band. Place the band on your head and move out, so the band is tight. Next, bend your neck down and try to touch your ear to your shoulder. Repeat for the other side.
If you're using a harness, you can either bend over to the side or lay on your side on a bench.
For neck rotation, the most accessible version is to use the resistance band. You will set up the same way as the lateral flexion, except it will help if you hold the band. This is to keep it in place as you're going to rotate your head to look away from the band. In other words, if you're looking forward and the band goes off to your right side, you will rotate your head to the left. Try to touch your chin to your shoulder.
In addition to the above diet and training advice, you can also make daily changes that will help reduce neck fat and keep it away. In no particular order, here are some of the best tips to get rid of neck fat.
Get more sleep
Sleep is the time for our body to rejuvenate and replenish itself. This includes our skin. To properly maintain your skin health, you need to get adequate sleep. Everyone varies, but 6-9 hours is the average.
Drink plenty of water
Your skin is over 60% water. That's a pretty massive portion so it would be foolish to think you can maintain tight, healthy skin walking around dehydrated all day. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is one of the simplest yet most effective habits you can practice to keep your skin looking young and fresh.
Take a collagen supplement
Collagen is a structural protein that is used in your connective tissue, especially your skin. In fact, collagen protein makes up about ⅓ of your total protein. Just like water, this is a massive piece of the puzzle to neglect. Start taking a collagen supplement daily to ensure your skin has all it needs to stay healthy. Collagen comes in pills and powders, so use what is most appropriate for your needs.
Don't smoke and drink in moderation.
We're all adults. We're not going to tell you not to drink and smoke, but you also know it's not doing you any favors. Excessive drinking and smoking cause havoc on your body, including running your skin. If you want healthy skin, just don't.
Just because you may or may not have a fat neck doesn't mean you need to walk with your head down (Get it? Because your neck is heavy and pulls your head down? Nevermind). We all have things we don't like about ourselves, but having pride means, which is not a bad thing. Wanting to look good is a natural part of life, especially for lifters. Unfortunately, the relatively small amount of fat on the neck can ruin our whole persona.
It is what it is, but now, you have the information you need to fix it. And remember, losing neck fat is the same as losing fat anywhere OR even gaining muscle. It takes time and discipline. That being said, if you keep that in mind and persist, you can be positive knowing you're going to have the neck you always desired (and hopefully those veins that go up the side). After reading this article, you can kiss that fat neck bye-bye.
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