Ironmind Headstrap Fit for Hercules Neck Harness Review

September 27, 2012 — 6 Comments
Neck Harness by:
Ironmind
Price:
$84.95

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On September 27, 2012
Last modified:March 22, 2015

Summary:

Train your neck. It’s the manly thing to do. Big muscles with a scrawny neck looks weird. Almost as weird as someone with huge arms and tiny legs. And what better way to train your neck then with the light weight yet durable Ironmind Headstrap Fit for Hercules neck harness!

A thick, strong, muscular neck is like a mane made of muscle.

A big neck looks intimidating, at least to me.  If I see someone with a thick neck, automatically I think they’re involved in some sort of hard training…and that they’re probably strong.

Often the only muscle group that are visible when wearing everyday clothing is the neck. So why is it that most people seemed to be more concerned with their six pack abs, which are covered up by clothing (in public) most of the time, than their neck muscles which are usually visible?

These days, I don’t train for aesthetic reasons (that is, I don’t train for looks) with the exception of one body part: the neck.

Big muscles with a pencil neck just looks plain weird. Almost as weird as someone with a huge upper body and tiny legs. In my opinion, a pencil neck is just as bad as chicken legs.

Take a look at former NFL football player and former professional wrestler Bill Goldberg. On the left is how he normally looks. On the right, with the help of my horrendous photo editing skills, is how he would look if his neck were a little thinner:

goldbergbefore02goldbergafter03

Here's another example:

Which one looks more alpha to you?

This big-muscles-small-neck looks like a skinny person wearing a muscle suit.

andylau

George-Michael-Muscle-Suit-760

From a functional standpoint, a strong neck has many benefits especially if you’re into martial arts such as boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, wrestling, MMA, or contact sports like football or rugby. I used to do a bit of Muay Thai training, and regular neck training really helped when it came to clinching.

I haven’t experienced this myself, but apparently a strong neck will prevent injuries or concussions from blows to the head.

Unfortunately, the neck is a neglected body part by most people. Even for those who exercise for aesthetic reasons (bodybuilders), it’s not uncommon to see those who have huge, bulging muscles and a pencil neck, despite performing indirect neck work such as shrugs, rows and deadlifts.

So what’s the solution?

Direct neck training with a neck harness.

I’ve searched the internet for the best neck harness on the market. I wanted something durable so that it would last me many years. I also wanted something that was lightweight. I was living in Bangkok, Thailand at the time, walked to my gym in 35+ degree weather and did not want to be weighed down by heavy chains and leather.

I eventually came across a neck harness that was fit for demigods and created by the people who make equipment for the world’s strongest men:

The Ironmind Headstrap Fit for Hercules neck harness!

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Description

The Headstrap Fit For Hercules neck harness is light weight, and made by Ironmind, who makes lifting accessories and equipment for the folks at the World’s Strongest Man events.

Unlike most neck harnesses which are constructed of leather, this one is made from some sort of super strong proprietary materials. I emailed them to ask what the headstrap was made of, but they wouldn’t tell me! But apparently this material is able to hold 1 ton (that’s 2000lbs, or 907.185kg). I’m assuming it’s similar to their lifting straps which are made of nylon.

Here’s a close up look at the strap:

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It also does not have a chain attached to the harness.

These lightweight, but super strong materials made it easy for me to carry around in my bag.

According to Ironmind’s website, this harness should fit heads with a 20-26” circumference. My head circumference is about 24” and it fits me just fine.

The headstrap is adjustable through the use of an adjustable buckle. It is secured by double passing the strap through this buckle.

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The top portion of the harness (the section that goes over your head) is very comfortable. It has some thin, blue padding along the inside of the headstrap, as shown below:

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The ends of the straps are cut at an angle. There’s also a plastic coating that lines the edge of the strap, making it easy to weave the strap through the buckle. I’m also assuming it’s there to prevent any sort of fraying of the strap over time.

IMG_9024

I don’t know much about stitching or threads, but the stitching on this harness looks very strong.

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A unique feature on the Headstrap for Hercules neck harness that I haven't seen on other neck harnesses is the blue aluminum plate.

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According to the manual:

Simply thread the red webbing through the round hole on the right side of the frame, stand up and lever your head toward the left shoulder (working the muscles on the leftside of your neck). To work the muscles on the right side of your neck, thread the red webbing through the round hole on the left side of the frame and lever your head toward your right shoulder.

I’ve found leaving the red strap in the center slot and rotating the headstrap so that the adjustable opening is facing the side works fine. This allows me to train the sides of my neck without having to adjust the red webbing every time.

How I Use The Ironmind Neck Harness

I’m going to explain to you how I use the Ironmind neck harness. There are 2 ways that I’ve used this neck harness:

  1. Attaching Olympic plates, and
  2. Connecting the harness to some cable machine.

Before getting into this, I’d like to touch on the manual that comes with the neck harness.

In the instructions, it says:

For maximum comfort when training the front or back of your neck, we recommend that the label on the headstrap be on the same side as the muscles you are training (i.e., keep the label side of the headstrap on the back of your head when you are training the back of your neck, and reverse it for the front of your neck), but some people don’t notice any difference. Another way to view this recommendation is to position the adjustable opening on your headstrap on the same side of your head as the weights.

Personally I found it more comfortable and effective doing the opposite: that is to position the adjustable opening of the headstrap on the same side as the muscles I’m training (rather than the label side).

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Wearing A Beanie Cap

I prefer to wear a beanie cap (or toque) when using a neck harness. It’s a little bit more comfortable than using the neck harness by itself. Also, the sweat from my head will be absorbed by the hat, and not the harness, meaning the harness will remain cleaner and odor free a lot longer, and I don’t have to wash the harness as often (actually, I don’t recall ever washing this harness Sick smile)

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You can get cheap beanie caps at the dollar store around the fall and winter time. I’ve found that the tighter the hat, the better it is to use with the neck harness because it moves around a lot less compared to a loose cap.

Exercise While Standing

I also want to point out that I do all my neck exercises standing.

You’re using more muscles standing compared to sitting, and it’s more functional that way (at least in terms of clinching in martial arts).

Also, I’ve seen pictures and videos of people sitting and doing neck extensions, and it looks funny to me. It’s like they’re performing self fellatio or something.

Anyways, that being said, here’s how I use the Headstrap Fit For Hercules with plates, and cable machines!

Plates

Normally, you would undo the buckle of the red strap, weave the strap through the holes of the Olympic plate(s), and re-buckle the strap to secure the weight.

I have found this time consuming, having to undo, weave, and redo the buckle every time I changed the load. Another problem with doing this over and over again is that the plastic edge at the end of the red webbing will start to wear out:

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The first thing I tried to make loading and unloading weights easier was looping the red strap into the holes of the Olympic plates (without unbuckling the buckle), and attaching 2 carabiners at the end of the red strap to prevent the plates from falling off.

It looks like this:

The problem with this is that the carabiner will wear out from rubbing against the metal plates.

The best solution I’ve figured out is to add a chain and carabiner.

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Using a chain along with a carabiner makes adding and removing plates faster and easier. The length of the chain I am using is 30”, or 76.2cm. This allows me to weave the chain through multiple Olympic plates.

If you decide to go with chain and carabiner route, make sure you go with the ones that are designed for mountain climbers and able to hold thousands of pounds of force (it should have a kN rating), rather than a flimsy one with no specifications that you might get for free with a water bottle.

Now I can simply weave the chain in the holes of the Olympic plates, and secure it to the strap with a super strong carabiner. It’s quick and easy.

Some notes on using plates with the Ironmind neck harness:

Neck Extension

For this variation, I make sure the length of the red webbing along with the chains is long enough so that the Olympic plate does not ram up into my testicles while performing standing neck extensions with this harness.

Neck Flexion

I lay the plates on a bench first, sit down on the plates, place the headstrap over my head and then stand up.

Performing standing neck flexion with the Ironmind neck harness will make the black straps on either side rub against your shirt. Baby powder could be applied to make it glide easier, but I have not tried this myself. Because of the rubbing of the strap, it’s a good idea not to wear your favorite shirt with some design on the back, because it may rub off.

Neck Lateral Flexion

While doing this, the blue aluminum plate will glide up and down the side of your shoulder. I’ve found that I need to wear a t-shirt while doing this exercise. The aluminum plate tends to “stick” to sweaty skin, so I do not do any neck training topless or with a tank top.

I’ve also experienced with heavier weights during neck lateral flexion, is that it turns into an isometric exercise for my neck, and most of the flexion is coming at the waist. It’s almost like a side crunch.

Cables

I used to do neck training on one of these Freemotion functional cable machines:

freemotion-cable-machine

They were great because I could adjust the height of the pulley (I set it low for neck extensions, and at around chin level for both neck flexion and lateral flexion), and the weight stack made it quick and easy to change the weight.

The other option is to use a low pulley.

neck-harness-low-pulley

I purchased the lat pull down attachment for my Amstaff power rack specifically for neck training.

It’s plate loaded, and a whole lot easier than attaching plates to the harness directly. However it’s not as convenient as a cable machine with a weight stack and pin-selectorized weights.

Compared to plates, I find that the tension on my neck using cables is continuous, and it felt harder to do at the same weight (at least on the pulley attached to my rack) compared to hanging plates off the harness alone.

Here’s a video of me demonstrating how I use the neck harness along with the low pulley:

Again, I find that at heavier weights, lateral neck flexion becomes more of an isometric exercise for the sides of my neck, and the movement is more of a side crunch with cables.

Summary

Pro’s

  • Comfortable
  • Light weight
  • No chains (unless you attach your own)
  • Super durable
  • Cures pencil necks

Con’s

  • The adjustable buckle will gradually become loose, so you’ll need to re-tighten the neck harness from time to time.
  • Most expensive neck harness on the market. But you get what you pay for.
  • You may find that the top button on collared shirts will be difficult, if not impossible to button up.

In closing, whether you’re a martial artist, football player, training for strength or looks, you should be exercising your neck.

Don’t take my word for it; check out what other people have to say about the Ironmind Headstrap Fit For Hercules neck harness.

If you have any questions about the Ironmind “Headstrap Fit For Hercules” neck harness or neck training, just enter it in the comment box below.

Train your neck. It’s the manly thing to do. Big muscles with a scrawny neck looks weird. Almost as weird as someone with huge arms and tiny legs. And what better way to train your neck then with the light weight yet durable Ironmind Headstrap Fit for Hercules neck harness!

John Phung

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Ever since I started taking strength training seriously, I was bitten by the Iron Bug. Then it burrowed under my skin and laid eggs in my heart. Now those eggs are hatching and I... the feeling is indescribable.




Quick Stats
Height: 5'4" on non-squat days
Weight: 200 lb 210 lb ~220 lb (FOREVER BULK BRAH)

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  • Texas Method: March 4, 2011 - April 28, 2013
  • Smolov Jr for Bench Press: June 4 - 22, 2012
  • Starting Strength: Nov 29, 2010 - March 4, 2011
  • Maxamillion Mansionhouse III

    Great article.
    I have this harness and it is something else with the quality you get for the added expense. Well worth it for a comfortable device especially when you look at how uncomfortable the other ones are well known to be.

    Want to see a person who is huge with a pencil neck? Marc Lobliner – owner of Tiger Fitness has the skinniest neck I’ve ever seen on a well muscled bodybuilder. He’s so muscular but with such a skinny neck it looks photoshopped in pictures. In certain poses looking up at him you cannot even see his neck at all!

    I really like the idea of the carabiner. Seems like it would actually come like that when you think about it. I really don’t change my weight on this too often but still seems like a logical thing to do.

    Something else I found funny was your stats were pretty much dead on with mine give/take a few pounds for each lift ha. I’m 6’2 though but weight 220. Interesting.

  • Hung

    Hi John, I’m deciding between th Hercules and Neck Flex with cables. The neck flex with cables looks more convenient to use at home without buying additional equipment but Hercules seems better to carry around and use at the gym. What do you think is the better choice?

    • Ironmind Headstrap Fit for Hercules. Pretty sure the person promoting neck flex did not build their neck with cables. I’m not a fan of using bands for resistance, because you don’t know what the load is.

      • Hung

        Thanks John! I’m going to get the Ironmind Headstrap. It’s much more versatile and easier to use and gauge progress at any gym.

  • Stephan R

    Thank you so much for bringing my attention to the importance of training the neck. I have been increasingly training my upper traps with the intention of progressing toward Jason Ferrugia’s “Power Look”. I never quite realised that it’s equally a good idea to train the neck directly.

    I have been doing some occassional neck extensions on a MedX 4-Way machine without necessarily doing it consistently to see visible effects.

    Will get Iron Mind headstrap – it looks indestructible.

    After watching your videos, why not slow down a bit on your rep cadence? It all seems slightly too rushed. That’s just my opinion.

    Cheers

    • My neck is 19+ inches around when pumped, about 18.5″ when cold, and have slowly getting stronger over time due to how I’ve been training my neck (as seen in my videos).

      I like to think that whatever it is I’m doing is working. There’s no need to slow down if something has been working for me.

      Unless of course, slower, non-“rushed” reps has been working for you and resulted in a neck larger and stronger than mine. If that’s the case, I might consider it. Maybe 😉