Preventing neck injury during contact sports like MMA and boxing is incredibly important. One awkward strike to the head can cause a neck tweak that will sideline you from training for a long time.
I have dealt with neck injuries before, and they are brutal. Unlike a hurt shoulder or a tweaked back, there is really nothing you can do to quickly heal your neck aside from giving it time to recover. My recommendation is to use a neck harness to train your neck as a preventative measure.
Strengthening the neck muscles with a harness is a great way to avoid injuries whether you’re into Muay Thai, BJJ, or just lifting weights. Making your neck more responsive is how you avoid whiplash from hard blows, and these harnesses are a favorite training tool of professional fighters in the UFC.
Vikingstrength Neck Harness
Guru’s Choice: Best Overall
This first product resembles more of a helmet than a harness. The Vikingstrength Harness gives you the support and durability you need to lift weights confidently and safely and for an extremely decent price, which is why we’ve marked it out as our best overall neck harness.
What I Love
- Extremely durable
- Thick padding to prevent cutting into or rubbing
- The chin straps across the entire jawline
- A snug and secure fit
- Features an ebook devised by Vikingstrength fitness experts
- The D-hooks are not reinforced
- Chain is not long enough to accommodate larger weights
This harness is extremely well made, the seams very resistant to wear and tear, the steel chain bearing most of the burden of the weights. With a sleek black design and embossed logo on the front, you’re guaranteed to be the envy of your local gym wearing one of these.
A top rated product by hundreds of Amazon users, this product also comes with a 12-week instructional ebook that helps you build your neck strength with a few easy exercises for beginners, intermediate and advanced weight lifters.
Ironmind Hercules Head Strap
Guru’s Choice: Best Luxe Option
This is an absolute monster of a head strap that will support not just the front but also the sides of the head, allowing the wearer to maintain a perfect posture, so the only thing they’ll feel pulling is their neck muscles. For these reasons, I chose the Ironmind Hercules is the best luxury option head strap.
Shockingly, the fabric on the Hercules is very light and breathable, it can be adjusted to fit heads from 20 to 26 inches. You can either hang the weights from a red ribbon underneath the chin strap, or you can use a loading pin and a carabiner if you find that more convenient.
What I Love
- A maximum one-ton weight limit
- Roomy and comfortable
- Can accommodate any number of differently sized heads
- Heavy-duty stitching
- Less moving parts within the body of the harness
- An eye-catching color
- An expensive option
This really is the harness for those kickboxers and MMA fighters who train a few times a week and want to reduce the risk of concussions, whiplash and other types of neck-related head injury. The heavy-duty stitching and less moving parts within the body of the harness means that this won’t wear out that quickly and make it a very safe option for weight training.
If you have the money going spare and you take your neck weight training seriously, you might want to invest in this chunky, luxurious neck harness, as it will undoubtedly improve the quality of your posture and therefore the muscle tone in your neck.
Harbinger Padded Leather Harness
Guru’s Choice: Best Budget Pick
Now time for a harness that, judging by the look of it, you might be more inclined to find on the head of a horse than a man. However, this does not detract from the very durable and strong qualities that this harness brings to the neck weight training game.
The adjustable chin strap will ensure a secure and snug fit for most head sizes, with a 30-inch steel chain that you can hang the weights from, along with a plate attachment mechanism and D-ring connectors. The weight of the harness itself is 1lb and it can hold up to 250lbs excess weight.
What I Love
- A simplistic leather design
- Can hang plenty of weights
- A very safe method of weight training
- Incrementally build up your resistance training
- Comfortable polyester shearling
- Simply not as durable as other harnesses
- Leather holes and rivulets will stretch over time
This singular product is very simple and stylish, the tan of the leather makes it very unique and could be what contributes to its popularity and the fact that Amazon have made it one of their more choice products. The steel chain underneath makes it very adaptable, meaning you can add your own weights and really build up your resistance training.
The product might not have some of the bells and whistles of other harnesses, but you can guarantee that this product will last you a number of years. The leather is also very absorbent, meaning that you’ll have less sweat on your brow at the end of a strenuous weight training session.
The reason why this is our best budget neck harness isn’t because it’s necessarily the cheapest, but it’s what you get for your money! Without fuss or frills, The Harbinger is perfect for those starting out on their neck weight training journey.
How To Choose The Best Neck Harness
Neck harnesses are strange looking objects, you might be more inclined to think that they should be worn by a cow plowing the field, however, they are precision-engineered apparatus designed to improve the strength and endurance of an often overlooked part of the body: the neck.
The straps on most neck harnesses should completely cover the crown on your head, although as we have seen, some harnesses have a strap that is secured under the chin. A chain will usually drop down on either side of the ear, this is traditionally metal, so it can hold whatever weights you decide to attach to it.
The weights are affixed to the chain through a central hole that comes in most weight plates. Once attached, the weight should dangle no lower than your chest. Check to see if the harness is snug and ensures that your exercises have a natural, controlled movement that is neither painful nor awkward.
3 Important Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Neck Harness
Remember there are as many different types of harnesses as there are human heads and necks. Try and avoid simply buying the coolest-looking harness, as wearing one that is too tight or loose could result in serious injury. You want your results to show after you’ve been at the gym, not during.
When trying out a new neck harness, use the lightest weight possible to make sure that it feels right when exercising. When it comes to building up those neck muscles, a comfortable harness that distributes weight equally is very important.
- Ideally you should seek out a neck harness that offers you plenty of padding in the head and chin straps, as this is the place where the most amount of force will be exerted once the weight is attached.
- Your chin strap should also have plenty of removable straps that will allow you to do multidirectional training, allowing you to develop a fully 360-degree workout around your entire neck.
- Your harness should be manufactured from a durable and comfortable substance that will not perish through repeated use and excess sweat. Leather and neoprene are two of these best types of material for a neck harness. These materials can also be cleaned easily after use.
Other Neck Harnesses You Might Consider
A strong neck is crucial in a wide variety of close contact sports such as MMA, boxing and kickboxing, helping to prevent concussions and whiplash. A thick and tough neck will make you a lot more difficult to choke during a match. When you’re trying to defend or escape from a choke, a strong neck is vitally important.
Having a strong neck is also very important for the general safety and wellbeing of your skull, neck and shoulders also. If you’re a wrestler and you are hoisted up in the air and driven down into your neck, having strong neck muscles will increase your chances of avoiding serious injury.
Here are some other neck harnesses you might want to consider for your unique style of training.
RDX Head Harness
This head harness also features a different material than our other neck harnesses, with a neoprene polyester design, the RDX head harness makes for an extremely cozy and durable harness, absorbing all that excess sweat that might cause any other harness to slip off your head.
What I Love
- The extra cushioning makes this neck harness extremely comfortable
- Work out for a lot longer
- Fully adjustable and can be adapted for all head sizes
- Your neck workout will be safe and secure throughout
- The long chain makes adding weights a lot easier
- Could do with a lot more protection on the sides of the head
- The head strap is not adjustable
With heavy-duty D-rings that you can clip weights into, the metallic portion of the harness is totally rust-proof, which is handy if you fancy doing some extreme outdoor training. The solid steel ringlets will last for many years before showing signs of wear and tear.
The only drawback of this product might be the fact that the head strap is not adjustable, which may cause the head band to rub around the ears and give you a rash. However, you could get a tailor to shorten this part by a few inches, if necessary. You can add additional cables to the back of the head if you’re more ambitious and fancy doing some reverse curls.
If you want to move your neck weight training into the more extreme levels, you will want to go out and buy the RDX head harness.
RIMSports Head Harness
Now we have a design of neck harness that emphasizes versatility over durability, with straps going across the forehead, under the chin and down the side of the head for maximum security when training – introducing the RIMSports Head Harness.
It has a chunky metal chain and D-rings running down the sides, although great care has been taken to ensure that these don’t rub against the ears or cheeks, avoiding rashes that can be caused by more inexpensive harnesses.
What I Love
- The perfect harness for beginners
- Versatile in its fastenings
- Comes with an ebook
- The chin strap offers extra security
- Not be as robust as some other harnesses
- Hazardous swinging motion towards the body once the weights are attached
The deluxe fastening system means that weights can be attached to the head with utmost safety, allowing you to perform far more complex exercises. The material of this harness also contains moisture absorbing technology, so you can be sure that the RIMSports harness will require a lot less cleaning.
The reason why we chose the RIMSports as one of our alternatives is because of its unique and versatile head straps, which allows for multidirectional training.
The neck is full of very delicate nerves, veins and tendons, so choosing the most comfortable and fitting harness is very important when it comes to neck endurance training. Safety is paramount when dealing with the neck, so when picking out your neck harness, it is important to prioritize safe training.
Check our this video from Joe Rogan explaining how using the Iron Neck helped him with his neck problems:
As you can see, there are plenty of options available for neck training, made from a range of materials that provide different levels of endurance, comfort and, in a few cases, style. You can detect whether your neck is in need of training if you feel a weakness under the neck and chin when you cough. Neck training will also improve your posture as it is part of a system of muscles that consists of your shoulders, head and upper arms and chest.
Remember that it is important to work all these muscles in tandem with each other for optimum strength.