How Not To Strengthen Your “Chin” For Combat Sports

Further updateThis 2014 study is instructive on this topic finding that “For every one pound increase in neck strength, odds of concussion decreased by 5 %


Update May 11, 2016  – while discussing this article on Twitter Dr. Margaret Goodman, former ringside physician, neurologist and head of VADA pointed out a previous article of her’s with the following sensible advice.  If you don’t want to listen to a lawyer, take it from this very qualified doctor!

STRONG NECK MUSCLES. If I were a boxer, this would be one of the areas I would concentrate on most. This is one thing you can have control over. If you watch “Classic KOs” on ESPN, you can’t help but notice that what separates out the guy still standing from the guy on the ground is strong neck musculature. You don’t have to have a neck like a linebacker, but alternatively develop selective muscles alongside the neck will prevent your head from moving after getting hit. Bottom line, if you head doesn’t move with a punch, you can’t get KO’d. Look at Gatti, look at Foreman. I remember seeing Forman training by pulling a tractor behind him!


This is a little off the beaten path for this site as I am neither a combat sports trainer or a doctor.  However, in my years as a personal injury litigator prosecuting traumatic brain injury cases I’ve had the privilege of consulting with countless specialists including neurosurgeons, neurologists, physiatrists, psychiatrists, physicists and biomechanical engineers who have enlightened me about the forces at play when traumatic brain injuries occur.

There is no such thing as a magic ‘button’ that causes knockouts.  Nor is there such a thing as a strong ‘chin’.  In short, a fighter who has a strong chin probably has a strong neck.

In the most basic terms a knockout occurs when a brain is exposed to a sudden acceleration (think about a head whipping around after being hit) or sudden deceleration (think about crashing into a wall and coming to an abrupt stop) and rotation/torsion of the brain stem.  When a fighter has a strong neck they have the ability to better anchor their brain thereby exposing it to less acceleration / rotation when being struck.

In other words, if you want a better chin strengthen your neck.

Oh yeah, and don’t train like this –

Not only does this do nothing to help people develop a stronger ‘chin’ this nonsense can only weaken a persons response to future brain trauma.

A ‘little dose’ of brain trauma is not a vaccine! Brain trauma is cumulative.  There is only so much ‘mileage’ an athlete can be exposed to before reaching a point of no return.  There is a reason why older fighters get ‘chinny’.  Its not because their chin becomes weak, its because their brains have simply absorbed too much damage over the years.



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