Bill Starr recommends a host of exercises to build a strong upper back and neck.
For those athletes who participate in contact sports, such as hockey, lacrosse, football and soccer, having a strong neck is an absolute must. It can mean the difference between getting a stinger in the neck after a head-on-head collision or being carried off the field and into the emergency room.
The sad truth of the matter is that even if an athlete works his neck and upper back diligently, he is going to get injured if he gets hit just right. Yet a strong neck is still an asset because it will lessen the severity of the injury. I’ve talked to a great many people who told me in no uncertain terms that weight training saved them from being badly hurt during a car wreck. Whiplash put the muscles of their necks under a great test, and they walked away from the twisted metal. Sure, their necks were sore, but it was nothing that a few aspirin tablets couldn't handle.
And, of course, a few sports require extra-strong necks for the athletes to be successful. Wrestling is the one that pops in my mind.
A combination of pulling heavy weights and doing neck exercises on mats helped me build a strong neck. And the stronger I got my neck, the more all the other exercises in my program improved—even those for my shoulders and chest.