Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, commonly abbreviated as BJJ, is a martial art that has gained widespread popularity in the years since its inception. You'll find very few who doubt its effectiveness, but there are still questions about it that people would like to clear up.
One such clarification is whether or not it makes your neck bigger! Some think that the constant grappling and neck bridging involved can lead to hypertrophy in the neck, whereas others dismiss this as a mere myth.
Today, we'll be looking into this topic in full detail. If you're afraid what BJJ might do to your wonderful, beautiful, pristine neck, then read on!
What is BJJ?
BJJ is a complex and heavily technical martial art that puts emphasis on grappling and ground work. It involves aspects such as takedowns, guard passes, and submissions.
Maneuvers typically require a great deal of practice in order to be executed properly, since they involve difficult-to-pull-off principles based on body positioning, leverage, and timing.
Learning BJJ will allow you to defend yourself against any would-be attackers, regardless of whatever the size difference between you two would be. Your defensive, immobilization-based maneuvers will put a stop to their plans and pin them down, making it easy to force a submission.
BJJ has gotten far since it was first introduced into mainstream martial arts, in no small part due to influential figures like Royce Gracie, who have helped pioneer the sport in mixed martial arts competitions all around the world.
Now, it's widely regarded as one of the best, most efficient, and most powerful forms of self-defense out there. It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, young or old, fit or otherwise--there's a lot you can learn from BJJ, and you'd be wise to enroll in it.
Does BJJ Make Your Neck Bigger?
Let's get straight to the point: BJJ does not make your neck bigger. It's not like you're going to be doing intense bouts of dedicated neck exercises or anything of the sort. You don't need to worry about that kind of thing.
The neck is a crucial part of the body in BJJ, especially given its huge emphasis on immobilization and submission, but it's still a relatively small muscle group overall. Your sessions in the dojo aren't going to be enough to cause any significant increase in neck size.
There's also fairly limited scientific evidence to suggest that the sport has any actual effect on the neck, and the relationship between neck muscle size and BJJ performance is not very well-understood.
Even if it were though, BJJ isn't a good way to build muscle anyway. Sorry to say. It's great for cardio, and you'll definitely feel that when you're really going down rough on the mats, but it lacks the kind of conditioning required to really stimulate muscle growth.
Keep in mind though that BJJ will still strengthen your neck muscles so that it can handle more difficult situations, such as being in an armlock or defending against a chokehold. It's just that this won't directly cause hypertrophy in the neck, or even any significant muscle growth.
And even if it did cause hypertrophy, genetics and diet still play a significant role. The neck, as opposed to your biceps or chest, is a muscle group that's difficult to significantly increase in size. It's entirely possible that you can do all sorts of neck exercises anyway and still see no results.
Make no mistake though: consistent neck training can still improve neck strength and endurance, and that'll still absolutely be worthwhile to you as a jujitsuka. Getting stuck in a chokehold is inevitable in BJJ, after all, but at least you'll be better able to deal with them this way!
How Does Practicing BJJ Benefit Your Neck Muscles?
The neck is incredibly fragile, but it's also an integral part of human anatomy.
Never mind the obvious fact of it being the pathway for us to eat and breathe, it also plays the crucial role of providing stability to the head and spine, which is what allows us to sit up straight and move our arms and legs in the first place.
Practicing BJJ is a great way to stimulate those important neck muscles. They'll be put in all sorts of situations that will actively encourage greater endurance and durability, without necessarily making them look bulkier.
Remember, BJJ involves a ton of grappling. The sport is practically built around that premise! And in order for you to grapple properly, your neck is going to need a heck of a lot of strength and endurance.
Expect neck muscle activation and stimulation as you go about even standard BJJ maneuvers. Pay close attention to moves like the guillotine choke or the rear naked choke, since moves like those are the ones that can really place some serious stress on the neck.
What Are Some Exercises For Building And Strengthening Neck Muscles Specifically?
A great way to work on neck muscles specifically is by doing lateral flexion exercises.
Like we said, you should still absolutely work on your neck muscles. A great way to do that is through lateral flexion exercises--bending the neck to the side, preferably with a resistance band for some extra difficulty.
Chin tucks are a great option too, especially for the upper neck. They're pretty much as straightforward as their name suggests: you keep your spine straight (preferably against a wall), pull your head back, tuck your chin down, bring it back up, and then you rinse and repeat.
Even simple stretches provide the invaluable benefit of improving tightness within the neck area, and they often focus on this muscle group specifically. It's an oft-overlooked part of a typical routine, so if you've been slacking off on them, now's the time for a change of plans!
These are all very safe things to do as well. The odds of you getting injured because of a chin tuck are next to nil. You might still catch a sprain from overstretching, but that's extremely unlikely to happen.
What Side Effects Are There From Practicing Too Much BJJ On The Neck Region?
Beginning any new martial art can be incredibly exciting, and that's all the more true if you pick one as dynamic and engaging as BJJ.
But amidst all the excitement and the many wonderful lessons that BJJ can teach you, there will also always be risks. It would do you well to be aware of them, especially when it comes to training in your neck region.
Inexperienced practitioners in particular should keep this in mind, since if they don't pay attention to their form, they can quickly overwork their neck and cause unintended soreness afterwards. This isn't true only for the neck--it applies to all other body parts as well!
Furthermore, given the intensity of drills and the nature of some techniques, you may end up applying too much direct pressure into one area. This kind of excessive force can cause compression injuries, which can lead to more pain later on down the line.
So do what you can to keep yourself safe. Warm up beforehand, especially when you know you're about to head into a harder session. The neck is an extremely sensitive part of the body, and we need to give it extra care when we train.
If you're worried that BJJ might give you an awkward, enlarged neck, then don't worry! This kind of thing won't happen. But you can still expect to gain lots of neck strength and to improve your neck's overall resilience.
Just remember to always keep safety at the forefront while practicing! If you keep your form tight and follow proper safety protocols, then you'll be able to avoid a whole lot of the nasty kinds of injuries you might otherwise get.
Wondering how you can develop a strong self-defense mindset? Click here!