Verdict on Neck Bridges/Wrestlers Bridges


I would like to get an opinion the neck bridge/wrestler's bridge exercise. It would be especially helpful if anyone knew of any guys that have done this for years and even continue to do this exercise and are at least 40 years of age.

I am very concerned about the health of my neck. I am worried that this will eventually cause disc degeneration. While I enjoy doing neck bridging and thus far, in my early thirties, have not had any issues that I know of, I am deeply concerned about the future. I'm not sure the long term costs are worth the short term benefits.

When I perform neck bridges I do it convict conditioning style. I start off with a warm up, using my hands as I do wrestlers bridges and after a short rest, I turn around and do front/side to side bridges on my knees. After the warm up I don't use my hands when I do the wrestlers' bridge; however, I get off my knees, but I still tend to use my hands a bit when doing the front/side to side bridge.

My question is, am I playing with fire? Should I stop doing this? Are there better alternatives? Is there anyone on this forum that has done this for years or has been in contact with guys that have done this for years.

One of the things that alerted me was a post I saw at a website where the following quote was stated:

"Hi. Former wrestler, boxing coach, submission wrestler and BJJ/Judo dabbler with over 20 years experience here.

Do not do this s***. There are dozen alternatives that are safer and more effective you should do before you even attempt bridging. It's a f***ing wrestling technique not an f***ing exercise. For the life of me I can't figure out why lifters have suddenly taken it out of context and are using for strength. It's idiotic.

I can't count the number of people I know that ten to fifteen years after wrestling have severe aggravated neck and thoracic spine problems thanks to idiotic "training" advice like this here "neck bridging". The damage you do is cumulative, permanent and you won't know it until it's too late. Just ask a sports medicine MD what they think of this s*** for civilians if you don't believe me.

And then there is of course immediate trauma. SEE: Green v. Orleans Parish School Board, La.App., 365 So.2d 834 (197 , kid broke his neck and was paralyzed while performing a neck bridge during a drill in a PE class.

But f*** it. Go ahead. Listen to this Nolan clown who has literally no serious coaching experience or education to recommend this s***. Go ahead. F*** yourselves up real good."

I'm terrified of this. Later on, I realized that Mike Tyson somewhat recently underwent neck surgery for a spinal issue. Are my fears justified?

Thanks in advance for any assistance with this topic. I don't think this is discussed enough and I fear that people are going to be fed the wrong information.

One of the reasons I enjoy this site is because Pavel goes out of his way to ensure that not only performance is being addressed, but longevity as well. For this, I can't thank Pavel enough. Pavel is one of the only people, if not the only person, I trust information from; however, to the best of my knowledge, neck bridging has not been covered.

Again, thanks in advance.


Triple-Digit Post Count
Pavel talks about it in beyond bodybuilding I think, and then resilient (again I think that's the one) he show the wall bridge and kneeling front bridge I think.

I throw so much material out each year, I can't always remember where exactly I saw something, I usually just file it away by author.

I'm sure Steve could better pinpoint these resources on Pavels view.


Triple-Digit Post Count
Two possibly better options for your neck training...

anyway, good luck on your search...


Double-Digit Post Count
Hi Wash U,
If done properly, they are great. I am 57 years old and have been performing wrestlers bridges for around 11 years. No problems.


I really appreciate the responses.

Jim, your response is exactly what I was looking for. It gives me confidence that I'm going in the right direction.

It just gets disconcerting when you read things on the internet that make it seem like you're going to end up hurting yourself, doing something that is supposed to get you stronger and healthier.

If anyone else has experience with this, please chime in.



Double-Digit Post Count
I wrestled in high school and some in college and did 1000's of neck bridges every season. The purpose for this move is if you ended up on your back, you'd have the strength not to get pinned, get on your stomach and get back in the match. It did have the side effect of giving you a big neck.
Because of all these bridges, as I got older I developed neck problems. Through Physical Therapy, Paleo eating and a lot of smart training my neck is fine now. I have no desire to do another neck bridge, unless my life depended on it.
A number of my wrestling friends have arthritis developing in the neck. It sucks. I would recommend you stop immediately, it will not make you stronger. Put your energy into Kettlebells.
I know this isn't what you want to hear but you're heading down a bad road.


More than 300 posts
John's got good common sense. Unless you really need to do an exercise like this for serious sport, why risk it? I knew people who used to do these to build area up when "spearing" was legal in football. Spine in neck area's nothing to play with, tho. this type of bridge puts a lot of weight/force on neck at potentially vulnerable angles, and usually people rotate body on it as part of drill. No one wants to be called a "pencil neck," but damage the nerves or vertebrae, and it' much worse. OP's neck, though...


Double-Digit Post Count
Hi Tom
Really? I swing a metal ball around my body which if not done properly will injure me. Should I stop that too? If you perform the bridge properly, it will not harm you, but will strengthen your kneck. Just like swinging a kettlebell. If done properly, it will strengthen you.



Unfortunately, you are correct when you say it's not something I want to hear. I don't want to hear it, but perhaps you are right. I just figured that in order to get fluid into the disc, I believe they have to go through a period of tension and compression. I figured that dynamic bridging, to the crown of the head from the rear side (not to the nose), as well as front and side bridging, mostly using your hands for support, would strengthen the neck muscles and keep the discs in good shape.

I even went so far as to search for doctors and articles who told me what I wanted to hear. For example, I found this guy, Dr. Brian Nelson who believes in aggressive neck training when dealing with pain and/or arthritis; however, I do not know what methods he uses.

This site says Resistive, dynamic exercises are safe:

Of course the NCAA is on board:

It is hard to take the NCAA's belief seriously because they don't seem to take a long term perspective, but the doctor's belief made me think that they are safe.

John, do you believe you can pinpoint your neck problems to neck bridging or do you think it was the result of wrestling itself, which involved people yanking on your neck, and using head to gain position which involved a tremendous amount of neck strength? Also, do you do any isolated neck work today?

I ask, because you're the second person that's told me that wrestler's have a high incidence of neck problems, which definitely weighs in my decision to stop. I suppose, the smart thing would be to abandon them.

Jim, do you do dynamic neck bridging or static holds? Do you feel like neck bridging has had an overall positive effect?

Thanks again to everyone. If it does turn out that neck bridging is seriously damaging, they should start abandoning this exercise in sports.

kodo kb

Triple-Digit Post Count
I wrestled in high school and some in college and did 1000’s of neck bridges every season.
No long-term experience with neck bridges, but this might be a case of the dose making the poison.

Just my $.02,


Also, see these exercises:

And to be honest, I don't understand how they are that much different than neck bridging. I mean, a weight is a weight. If you're using the floor as a weight or a neck harness, you're still using weight to strengthen your muscles, and tension to manipulate the joint.

I suppose, the only different is when you are static for the moment that your resting on the crown of your head. Do you think it's more of an issue of mobility that causes issues, like taking different angles (than forward, backwards, left and right), and bridging all the way until your nose touches the floor for example?

I wish that some experts in the field, notably Pavel would do more research on this, or maybe some more doctors like Stuart McGill would weigh in on the risks and/or benefits of doing this exercise.

I will admit that it is disconcerting to hear multiple people say they attribute neck bridging to hurting their neck. I wish I could ask Mike Tyson what happened to his neck. *(He had a cervical fusion)

I guess, the smart thing to do, would be to err on the side of caution. I'm just so hard headed, that it's hard to do that.


Double-Digit Post Count
Wash U,

I can't definitely pin the neck issues to bridging v. wrestling itself, I just feel it was more related to the bridging. I don't do any neck work now other than doing neck stretches as part of my warmup, as taught at a SFG KB User Course. This is a good idea and I do it before every workout.

I'm also attending Dr. McGill's 2 day spine seminar October 3rd and I'll certainly ask him about this.



I really appreciate your response. That would be great if you could ask Dr. McGill. Right now, I do bridging once a week, starting with using my hands for the rear bridge and on my knees for the front bridge, and side to side, for a warm up of 20 reps. Then I do two work sets, of rear bridges without using my hands, and two work sets of front bridges, on my toes, but still using my hands for some support, and again for no more than 20 reps. I guess, I just figured that it would simultaneously stretch and strengthen my neck, while rehydrating the discs, but I'll just hold off for now.

Pavel Macek

More than 2500 posts
Master Certified Instructor
Wash U:

As for bridging, if you are not a wrestler, you don’t need to train wrestler’s bridge. So called “rolling neck bridge” is a safer alternative.

Start in a plank position, your feet and forehead in the contact with the floor, plus as much assistance of your hands as needed. Roll 360 degrees to your right, then repeat on your left. You can also start with the easier version, on the wall. Please refer to Pavel’s Beyond Bodybuilding book (p. 311-317), or Martial Power video series for detailed explanation.


Double-Digit Post Count
I do Bridges for 3 min. They are stationary for the 1st min, then front to back and sided to side then end with 1 min stationary. Once per day. I think the problem with some is where they do too much (as in the former wrestler above). Neck muscles are very small therefor will tire easily. Once the muscle tires it can't do the job of support like it is supposed to.


Double-Digit Post Count
Wash U:
I spoke with Dr. Stuart McGill earlier this month at his Spine seminar in Saco, Maine. His opinion concurs with mine. If your sport doesn't require it, don't do wrestler bridges. The action is precisely the same as what they do in the lab to cause disc herniation. The combination of cervical spine compression with back and forth motion (esp. flexion) is asking for trouble with the neck and back. It's similar to doing situps or crunches. You put tremendous forces on the discs, which will delaminate the disc, eventually causing disc damage.

I haven't tried Pavel Macek exercise (just read it now) but that sounds pretty good. You eliminate the compression and the flexion while maintaining a good amount of stress on the neck muscles.

Hope that helps and good luck with your training. Stay Strong!


Quadruple-Digit Post Count
In a wrestlers bridge your spine is flexed and not neutral, right? (Just want to know whether or not I think of the right exercise)

I don't have any studies, quotes or whatever for you OP, only common sense.
Sitting in a hunched over position over a long timeperiod (think of the position many people use to sit in front of their computer) can cause things like kyphosis (and the sideeffects like neckpain, headache etc.) or in rare cases even disc herniation. This happens only through the relativ low weight of your head, because everything else is below the unnatural forward curve you create by hunching over.
In a wrestlers bridge you support much more weight. So if only the weight of your head can create things like I mentioned above, what do you think will happen if you do a similar movement (not the actaul movement, but a flexed spine under load) for a long timeperiod like 10-20years with a load that's much heavier?

Another thought: 2-3 years ago I saw a documentary about Formula 1 racers and Red Bull Air Race pilots. In one specific part they showed their neck training (those guys and fighter jet pilots are arguably the people with the biggest need for a strong neck) and none of them used anthing even remotely resembling a wrestlers bridge.

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
@jxrobb, thanks for bringing that info, straight from the expert! That is great insight for keeping the back safe and healthy.

Did you learn anything else about spine health relative to kettlebell training?
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