Get Strong

Training The Upper Trap On The 5-Way Neck

The cervical spine consisits of seven vertebra numbered C1-C7. The back of the head or skull is called the 'occiput' and is numbered C0.  The occiput sits on the first vertebra of the cervical spine (C1), which is called the 'atlas'. The juncture between these two bones is called the 'occipito-atlanto joint'.

The second cervical vetebra (C2), is called the 'axis'.  The junction between atlas (C1) and the axis (C2) form the 'atlanto axial joint'. The axis is unlike the other cervical vertebrae, as it has a fingerlike projection called the 'dens' that protrudes through C1, so the atlas can rotate around it somewhat like an axle of a wheel (though the movement is far from a complete rotation).

The bones C0-C2 include the aforementioned joints and ligaments, but unlike the other cervical vertbrae have no discs. The lower cervical have intervertebral discs that do not allow for lateral flexion.

As a coach you can use this imformation to help identify when an athlete is maximally contracting during an upper trap movement. Since the occipito-atlanto and atlanto axial joints do not have discs they have the ability to move to opposite sides of lower segments.

The best movement for the upper trap is a one arm shrug. When the athlete reaches peak contraction the upper cervical vertebra can and will pivot on the dens and the athletes head will turn away from the elevating shoulder shrug action. The muscles of the upper cervical region at C2  have an individual specialized arrangement and when fatigue occurs and the upper trap is truly targeted the head will turn without any coaching. If the head does not turn the athletes form is incorrect or there is not enough effort. You only need to observe, asking the athlete to tilt their head would be a poor coaching cue, as the head tilt occurs naturally. 


One arm shrug

Training the Upper Trap on the Pendulum 5 Way Neck

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training, Strength Training

Best And Most Important Clinic Of The Year

In 1931 Paul Brown was the head coach of the football powerhouse Massillon High School in Massillon, Ohio. He lost only 10 games in eleven seasons and was hired as the head football coach at Ohio State University, where in 1942 his team won the National Championship. Paul Brown followed this by winning three NFL Championships as the coach of the Cleveland Browns.  Brown then co-founded the Cincinnati Bengals and became their head coach in 1968. His storied career included inventing the face mask, developing the taxi squad, running the draw play and installing a radio transmitter in the quarterbacks helmet. In 1975 Paul Brown made a lasting impact on the physical development of athletes, hiring Kim Wood as the NFL's first full-time strength coach. 

Kim Wood maintained the position for 29 years and his influence on the exercise world is unparalleled. Kim has built world leading companies, influenced equipment design and program implementation, he continues to fight performance enhancing drugs and has preserved the history of weight training with his vast collection. Wood's philosophy as a coach was effective simple and direct, "Prepare each athlete for the rigors of the game and get the most out of every repetition that is done."

Each year Kim runs America's best Strength Clinic



Kim Wood's Study.....Photography by Ed Cicale

In 2015 in the Journal of Medicine Science and Sport researchers found that if you suffer a concussion the risk of a lower body injury is twice as great for months, a year or even longer.  In 2016 this information was once again reiterated in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The clinic is designed to provide and share techniques that will reduce sub-concussive forces that can cause head and neck injuries and thus reduce the risk of injury throughout the entire body.  Also, the clinic provides the most current research and new techniques to train the head, neck and jaw from a wide array of professional coaches. 

The clinic is important enough that professional football players, major college strength coaches and writers from Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine, and the local newspapers have all attended.

It will be held in Pallet 23 Event Space, 3932 Spring Grove in Cincinnati. Pre-registration on The clinic begins Friday, June 24th at 7 p.m. and Saturday June 25th at 9 a.m. The cost is $25 which includes both sessions.

Register now: space is limited.

Topics: Head/Neck/Trap/Shop, Clinics, Neck training, Success

Concussions And The Lower Body

The  American Journal of Sports Medicine recently published, "Concussion Increases Odds of Sustaining a Lower Extremity Musculoskeletal Injury After Return to Play Among Collegiate Athletes."  Approximately one year prior to this article Medicine Science and Sports published, "Acute Lower Extremity Injury Rates Increase after Concussion in College Athletes."  Both of the above studies found that their is an increased risk of a lower extremity musculoskeletal injury after a concussion.  A lower extremity injury can be considered anything from an ankle sprain, muscle pull, meniscus or knee. The risk is approximately 2 - 2 1/2 times greater than the controls in the studies who were without a history of being concussed.  This rise in incidence of injury was indicated to extend months post concussion regardless of whether playing football, soccer, hockey, softball, basketball, wrestling, or volleyball.

It is apparent that abnormalities in motor functioning after head trauma persist. These abnormalities are twice the norm.  In other words, it could be said that an athlete that has been concussed has a 100% greater chance of a lower extremity musculoskeletal injury after a concussion. Having a higher possibility is a signal to the coach that a particular athlete's injury may not be attributed to atypical outcome of cause and effect and this significantly affects program design.  

describe the image

In a recent paper featured in the 2016 edition of Sports Health "Full-Contact Practice and Injuries in College Football," researchers looked at athletic injuries, and correlated them with the weekly exposures to full-contact practices, total practices, formal scrimmages, and games. The pre-season injury rate was much higher than in-season, and the game injury rate was over six times greater than the practice rate; which for most coaches is understood without substantiation from the literature. What is of concern, and backs up the aforementioned studies is --"Concussions constituted 14.5% of all injuries, and the incidence of concussions correlated with the incidence of all injuries."

Strength training the head, neck and jaw is an important addition in every sport. Concussive forces must be lowered to protect each athlete. Having a strength component as an integral part of the athletic trainers and physicians return-to-play protocol is not just to protect the concussed individual against further head trauma, but to guard against all types of athletic injuries.

describe the image

 Train the neck.....Get Strong.

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training, Muscular Strength

Full Range Neck Flexion

Full range neck flexion is somewhere between 82 and 90 degrees for males. Females in general have less range of motion in flexion then their counterpart. When training full range flexion start the exercise in a neutral position with the head slightly retracted. Beginning the exercise from neutral in retraction elicits about 10% more neural activity hence recruiting the most neck muscular. You need a great 'start' to Get Strong.

 Screenshot 2015 11 06 20 44 25 1 1

Screenshot 2015 11 06 20 45 14 1

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training

Six Pendulum Neck Machines For The Midshipmen

The Naval Academy installs six Pendulum 5 Way Neck Machines to train it's midshipmen.

Navy Neck

beat army

Getting Strong in Annapolis, Maryland.

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training

The Contracted Position

The storied Pingry School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey has been in operation since 1861. Doug Scott has been a member of the Pingry faculty since 1999 and has served as a Physical Education teacher and Strength and Conditioning coach since that time. Coach Scott runs a comprehensive program designed to get the most out of each participant. Doug describes a successful technique that he uses to strengthen and protect his student athletes.

describe the imageTeaching strength training to athletes is important for many reasons. The most important being developing a high level of muscular fitness is the best form of preventive medicine from athletic injuries. In the case of developing the muscles of the head, neck, and upper back it is important that every measure be taken to insure maximum stimulation of the musculature. Holding an exercise in the muscles contracted position does just that. A technique that has proven to be very successful is to have the athlete hold each exercise in the contracted position for a designated amount of time before returning back to the starting position. Here is a progressive system where the athlete tracks not only the weight and repetitions performed but also the hold in the contracted position. Every two weeks adjust all three variables to ensure overload.


Holding a neck extension in the contracted position on the Pendulum 4 - Way

Week 1 – 2

Neck 4 ways (8 second hold in contracted position) 5-7 reps

Week 2-4 * increase weight 5-10 lbs

Neck 4 ways (6 second hold in contracted position) 7-9 reps

Week 4-6 * increase weight 5-10 lbs

Neck 4 ways (4 second hold in contracted position) 8-10 reps

Week 6-8 * increase weight 5-10 lbs

Neck 4 ways (2 second hold in contracted position) 10-12 reps

Week 8-10 * reduce weight to 10 lbs over starting weight and start system over


Pendulum neck flexion hold to Get Strong

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, concussions, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training, Strength Training

Training The Traps

To maximize trap development the lifter should incorporate a movement for the upper, middle and lower traps in their workout. The upper trap requires fixation of the hands when using a neck machine to target the appropriate musculature. The upper trap can also be isolated by performing a one arm movement. When doing so, it is necessary to also grasp an object with the contralateral limb to stabilize the spine. 

D73A1064 small

D73A1857 small

Standing shrugs, seated shrugs, and high pulls develop the middle trapezius. Remember; with two hands on a barbell, machine, or with a pair of dumbbells no matter how high you raise your shoulders you are still capable of extending your head. Therefore, the upper trapezius, a strong extensor, is only involved minimally and the exercise cannot to be considered an upper trap movement.

 Pendulum 5 Way Neck Shrugs

The third movement necessary to fully train the trapezius is a lower trap movement. Lean forward on the 3-way row with your palms up and squeeze your shoulder blades together holding each rep for a five count at the top of the repetition. 

D73A0768 edit resized 600

D73A0769 edit resized 600 

A simple trapezius program:

1). Seated Pendulum neck extensions.... 8-10 repetitions

2). Seated Pendulum two arm shrugs..... 8-10 repetitions

3). One arm Pendulum shrugs................8-10 repetitions  

4). Underhand scapula retraction............6-8 repetitions wit a 5 second hold

5). Pendulum 3-Way Rows underhand......8-10 repetitions

describe the image

Get the traps Strong.

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training, Pendulum 3 Way Row

Ohio State Buckeyes Pendulum Neck Machines

Ohio State University the 2014 NCAA Football National Champions

IMG 0562

Pendulum Head and Neck Machines

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training

Kinesthetics And Shuttle Running

Kinesthetics is our ability to feel the sensations of our movements and the awareness of where our body is in space.  Having a kinesthetic sense of one's body parts relative to a previous position enables athletes to develop and nurture their athletic proficiency. 

This awareness that we have and call 'skill' allows us to perform each movement with earned excellence. Kinesthetics is manifested in the examples of when the 'center' on a football team shotgun snaps a ball accurately to the quarterback, while keeping his eyes rivited on his opponent or the kicker kicks an extra point and knows exactly where to place his plant foot while moving, even though he is concentrating on the football as he is about to punch it through the uprights. Executing a skill correctly over and over allows an athlete to use precise sensory feedback to adjust as they move, integrating information from the ears, eyes, muscles, ligaments, skin and more - kinesthetic awareness.

Agility shuttles are used by coaches and scouts to evaluate players. Strength and Conditioning coaches hence instruct athletes with the appropriate form and have them practice it diligently to minimize their time. The following is an example of some instructions on the 'Pro Agility Shuttle' and viewed as good advice:

"Put your right hand down to the ground and get ready to take off."  "Take three steps within five yards and pivot your right foot around so that it is in front of your left foot. Make sure your right hand is on the ground near your right foot."  "Burst out 10 yards and mimic the same pivot and position with your left foot."

IMG 9713edited

Yet, often instructors training athletes for a drill such as the 'Pro Agility Shuttle' may forget the most important coaching fundamental of running a great time, 'where the head goes the body will follow.'  Touching a line on the ground as you change direction is not a complicated task as the line is not going to move. The athlete need not stare at the line to make sure he touches it, he need only to know where it is and be in tune with his running form. IMG 0545edited

       The athlete need not watch the line

Getting as low as possible and using peripheral vision and body awareness for hand placement is what is necessary as the athlete must pivot the head and foot to burst in the opposite direction. Looking at the line and making sure it is touched prevents the athlete from quickly getting his head turned downfield. The craniums appropriate position brings the entire system into the actions needed to propel the body in the opposite direction.

IMG 0556edited

 IMG 0540edited

By being aware of the line not watching it allows the athlete to turn quicker

If an athlete steps correctly, gets low as he approaches the line, trust he knows where he is in space and concentrates on bringing 'the head around so the body will follow', he will run up to his capabilities. 

Teach athletes to rely on their kinesthetic awareness so they perform movements at the highest level. 

Topics: Running, Neck training, Skill

Strength Training And Rapid Force Development

The Journal, Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging, covers clinical and experimental research pertinent to human physiology in health and disease and reviews recent 'front-line studies'.  

Not long ago researchers looked at neck/shoulder muscle pain in a group of about two hundred adults that had lingering issues for at least 6 months to a year. The participants in the study were given small amounts of daily exercise with elastic tubing. After 10 weeks they were reexamined to see if there was a change of rapid force development, the results were then compared to a control group who did not exercise. Rapid force development, that is the force that can be generated in the early phase of muscle contraction (0–200 ms), significantly improved in the training group even though their strength did not. The study concluded that, "Small daily amounts of progressive resistance training in adults with frequent neck/shoulder pain increases rapid force development and, to a less extent, maximal force capacity."

Rate of force development is highly important as it allows an individual to reach a high level of muscle force in the early phase of a muscle contraction. If a fast limb movement is required ones rapid force development may allow a higher maximal muscle force to be reached that may otherwise not occur.  

What is important to see is that even brief resistance exercise can have an effect on the development of rapid strength. Though researchers were looking at means of reducing pain in their population having a solid strength program for the head and neck as opposed to nominal exercise for the head, neck and shoulder area will go a long way in reducing subconcussive forces to protect the student athlete. 

describe the image

 Pendulum 4-Way Neck Machines, Upper Arlington High School, Columbus, Ohio

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training