Staying motivated is one of the most challenging aspects of maintaining a consistent fitness routine. This is why many people prefer to take up a sport, rather than sign up for a gym membership. And for men in particular, one of the fastest growing sports is MMA.

Many would argue that MMA is the purest and most complete sport. Although the rules are very simple, you still require lots of studying, strategy and practice to win. But you’ll eventually reach a plateau where more knowledge will no longer give you a significant edge over a similarly experienced opponent. At this stage, physical conditioning becomes an essential part of the MMA training program.

Of course, at this stage, many athletes will begin weight training to gain mass and try to build a gorilla physique. Although this may look good in pictures, this type of training may not be optimal for improving their fighting game in the shortest time.

One of the most commonly overlooked areas in a fighter’s conditioning is neck strength.

The neck is crucial to MMA for a number of reasons.

First of all, the neck is the most likely source of injury for fighters. A single torn muscle or slipped disc can take a fighter out of training for weeks or even permanently. And a more severe spinal injury can have serious effects on a fighter’s health both inside and outside of the ring.

Also, the neck is one of the most common points of attacks for submissions such as cranks, guillotines, and chokes. During the final moments of a match, all of your opponent’s full body strength will be focused on your neck, and you must be properly conditioned to ensure this stress won’t cause injury.

Given the punishment that a neck will take from getting stacked, from chokes and from strikes to the head, it’s absolutely essential that a fighter look after their health by strengthening those neck muscles.

A strong neck will also give the fighter some important tactical advantages when fighting.

One of the core strategies in MMA is to control the opponent’s head, since the rest of the body will always follow. If you can give your opponent more resistance in controlling the head, you can gain an important core tactical advantage.

The neck is critical for controlling the opponent in the clinch, and it’s also a major point of leverage during takedowns. And during ground fighting, the neck will often have to support the fighter’s weight while manoeuvring.

In order to excel as a fighter, you need to make neck training an essential part of your workout and conditioning routine. Start off slow, with simple exercises. Then, work your way up to more stressful routines as your neck muscles get stronger.

Given the fact that so many fighters overlook this aspect of conditioning, the neck strength you build will be a secret weapon which gives you a strong tactical advantage against other fighters.

About The Author: Kim Lebb is an expert writer who covers fitness and training topics for torontofit.com.