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Building Neck Strength for "Running Boats" - Easy Supplemental - No Extra Equipment

Stew smith land portage neck running boats

Building Neck Durability is as Simple as
YES/NO and Side-to-Side

Your head weighs, on average, 11 lbs. You have all the weight you need to build a strong foundation of the neck muscles right now. You only need to supplement a 10-minute Neck Drill to your normal workouts 3-4 times a week.

But first, let me ask you:

Are you preparing for special operations training and aiming to be durable enough for the load-bearing activities of selection? Do you want to carry logs, boats on your head, perform rucking and equipment carries, and fireman carries confidently? Look no further, as we have the solution for you: building a stronger neck to handle the demands of land portage!

Here it is: 6 Minute Necks

Exercise 1: Head Nods - Say Yes 
Lie on your back. Slowly nod your head forward, bringing your chin towards your chest while lying down on your back. Hold this position for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat this slow and steady exercise for 1 minute of repetitions.

Exercise 2: Say NO to Weak Neck
Lie on your back. Turn your head from side to side as you nod NO with your head 2 inches off the floor. Repeat this slow and steady exercise for 1 minute of repetitions.

Exercise 3:  Side to Side

Lie on your back. Slowly tilt your head towards one shoulder, aiming to bring your ear as close to your shoulder as possible without straining. Hold this position for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side for 1 minute

Now repeat exercises 1,2,3 but roll over to your stomach for a total of 6 minutes of neck-focused exercises using nothing but your melon and some time. As you progress, add time to each event and work to build up to 12 minutes.

You can effectively build your neck muscles without subjecting your spine to vertical pressure. It's important to minimize neck compression in your everyday life. 

When you need to carry objects on your head, take a moment to brace your neck by tucking your chin in. This action engages the neck muscles, providing greater stability for the load. It's similar to how you brace your spine during deadlifts or heavy squats, where you flex the muscles around the spine to create a strong base.

Build a Solid Frame to Handle Heavy Loads (especially if you come from an endurance athletic background)

A strong and resilient neck is crucial for special operations training that involves carrying weight on your head. But it must also go further down the spine to include the hips, legs, and entire posterior chain of muscles to be strong. You cannot have a strong neck without a durable and robust body from the shoulder girdle down to the feet. This is where the "Winter Lift Cycle" comes into play:


These are our Strength Programs that build that foundation but also allow for maintenance of cals and cardio (muscle stamina / endurance).

Having a background in lifting weights and load-bearing work will ultimately provide stability and support for your neck and spine during high-intensity activities and plays a significant role in maintaining optimal posture and reducing the risk of injury. Adding in the above circuit of neck exercises is a good way to build on a solid foundation. 

Sure, you can add in neck bridges (wrestling training), added resistance training to your neck, but try this routine first for 5-10 minutes if you think it is too easy. I think this drill is as easy as a 10-minute tread or a 10-minute plank - not easy at all, but doable with practice. 

With these exercises, you can build a neck and upper body strong enough to handle the demanding activities of special operations training. Incorporating these simple routines into your fitness regimen will give you the strength, endurance, and confidence necessary for successful land portages. 

If you want help, that’s what I do…. Check out these resources that have helped spec ops candidates succeed where others have failed for the last 20+ years!

Training is What We Do: 

Need Programming for Fitness Tests and Beyond?  We are all about getting you TO and THROUGH your future training program.  See how that works.  

There is More To than a You May Know

(In fact, there are more than 40 books, 1000+ articles, online coaching - and more) 

Who is Stew Smith CSCS? Coach, Trainer, Writer, PodcasterI'm the former Navy SEAL that tactical candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at

Where to Find More Information About Optimal Performance Training Programs

When you start training again, consider the seasonal tactical fitness model.  I call it A WAY to train and obviously not the only way to train. But it offers the opportunity to never neglect your weaknesses, helps with flexibility and mobility, but will also put you at a level of physical abilities where you are happy with your overall ability to do just about anything. We have a system where the seasons dictate our training. When it is nicer outside, we tend to run and do more calisthenics. When it is colder and not so nice, we lift more, run less, and still maintain our outdoor activities with shorter runs and rucks. Check it out: Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.  

These Seasonal Tactical Fitness BLOCK Periodization programs will walk you through 4 x 4 weeks cycles with 16 weeks of each season in two programs. (32 total weeks) 

Increase Strength & Crush the PST / PAST
3 Weeks Strength - 1 Week PT / Cardio Focus 
(16 weeks)

These programs will walk you through 4 cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs. 

The Specific Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts 

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT
Navy SWCC Workout

Army / Air Force Advanced Fitness / Special Ops 

Army PFT Workout (Prep For Rucking, OPAT, ACFT)
Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout
Army Air Assault School Workout
Army Airborne Workout
Air Force Special Warfare IFT / OFT / Selection Prep


Advanced Running Program - Special Ops Supplement Plan
USMC OCS / TBS Workout


The Combat Conditioning Workout
Air Force PJ / CCT Workout  Battlefield Airman Prep Course
The UBRR Upper Body Round Robin Workout / Spec Ops version


The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer / Navy SAR Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Boot Camp Workout


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Workouts

The FBI Academy Workout  |   FBI Workout Vol 2  
The DEA Workout
The FLETC Workout - Ace the PEB
The PFT Bible: Pushups, Sit-ups, 1.5 Mile Run
The Fire Fighter Workout - Ace the CPAT


Online Coaching Options

Online PT CLUB - Weekly Workouts created personally for you.

New Member's Only Content / Services Program!

If you want access to years worth of workouts, many of the top eBOOKs, favorite workouts of the week, free fitness APP, closed Facebook Group, video / picture library of exercises, and more access to LIVE Q/A sessions check out the Stew Smith Fitness Members Section

The dashboard below has the links to all the information, archives, videos, and links to workouts, podcasts, live Q and A lessons. 

Consider this! - A Membership Program and Gain Access to Exclusive Content
(click for Fitness Club Dashboard - members only)

Best of all, if you have questions, email Stew Smith himself (  Join the tactical fitness group discussions, latest articles, videos, podcasts at the Stew Smith Tactical Fitness Training Closed Group on Facebook.


Questions?  Just email -

At - List of Products and Services

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  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
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