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How To Measure Neck Size: The Best Way To Do It

 Written by 

Mauro Castillo

 Last updated on 

Knowing your neck size is essential to help you understand your current overall health status. It’s crucial because a larger neck size has a positive correlation with:

  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Risk for heart disease
  • Breathing disorders (risk for sleep apnea)
  • Increased body fat

The best way to measure your neck size is using a measuring tape; although you could use a cord or any lace, an accurate measurement will require tape.

A man knowing how to measure neck size
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Here’s what I’ll cover in this article:

  • Average neck size (men/women)
  • Neck size charts
  • How to measure your neck 
  • Link between your neck size and health
  • Exercises to increase neck size 

Let’s dive in! 

Average Neck Size

Multiple variables must be considered when measuring your neck size, such as body mass index (BMI), sex, age, body size, muscle mass, etc. 

This is crucial since now we know there’s a positive correlation between neck size and health. Meaning you want to be as exact as possible.


The average neck size in men is approximately 15 inches or 38 centimeters.


The average neck size for women is 13.1 inches or 33.3 centimeters.

Neck Size: Measurement Chart and Information

Below are three charts stating neck sizes in inches and centimeters. 

P.S. Make sure you save them for the next time you buy new clothes! 

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How to Measure Neck Size

Measuring your neck is a straightforward task that takes no more than 20 seconds. I’ll show you two ways of doing it. 

Measure Tape 

  1. Stand in front of a mirror.
  2. Grab a measuring tape or a printable tape measure.
  3. Wrap it around your neck, starting on your “Adam’s apple.” Make sure the tape remains flat. 
  4. Avoid squeezing it too hard or moving your neck forward/back.

Cord / Laces

If you don’t have a measuring tape, grab a cord or a shoelace and do the same steps as you would with a measuring tape. 

Hold the length mark and place it next to a ruler or yardstick.

Link Between Neck Size and Your Health

A man with a big neck that might indicate health problems
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In fighting obesity and sedentarism, multiple anthropometric measures have been used to collect the most accurate data and help predict and diagnose these diseases. 

Recently there have been studies associating neck size with overall health. Neck circumference may be an essential marker of central adiposity and perhaps of visceral adiposity and an important risk indicator of metabolic conditions (1)

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. It usually affects overweight people, and they frequently have a higher incidence of arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease (2)

This study by Ahbab et al. demonstrated that severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) are correlated with a higher neck circumference (N.C.) compared to typical patients of OSAS. 

An NC higher than 17 inches (men) and higher than 16 inches (women) may indicate developing OSAS.

Metabolic Diseases 

Like sleep apnea, the size of the neck has been tied to metabolic diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, etc. 

One Brazilian study led by Cristina Baena, P.h.D sampled around 4,000 subjects and determined that the average neck size for men was 15 inches. For every 1″ increase in neck circumference, males were:

  • 50% more likely to have high triglycerides.
  • 32% more likely to have insulin resistance.
  • 24% more likely to have raised blood pressure.
  • 22% more likely to have low HDL, or good cholesterol (3)

Although this is not a rule of thumb, it’s becoming a popular and accurate predictive tool against metabolic diseases.

Exercises To Increase Neck Size

The neck is one of the most underrated and sub-trained body parts in fitness. It’s rare to see someone working the neck from different angles and exercises. 

However, a strong neck is a synonym for a better, more aesthetically pleasing posture. Here are a few exercises to increase your neck size and strength

Neck Flexion 

The neck flexion is very similar to the “ab crunches.” Laying down on your back, bring your chin to your sternum (vertical bone on your ribcage). This will activate the sternocleidomastoid, which is responsible for neck flexion.

Ideally, you want to keep the rep range low at the beginning until your neck is strong enough to withstand higher reps and with added weight. 

In the mid-time, start within the 8-12 rep range and 2-3 sets until you’re ready to progress. More advanced lifters may use a plate or a neck harness for convenience. 

Neck Extension

This is another easy movement you can do without added weight to increase neck muscle size and strength. To do this movement, lay down on a bench (facing down) with your neck coming off the edge of the bench. 

Lower your head as much as possible, then bring it up again until it reaches maximal extension. Beware of extending your back as a compensation mechanism. 

This movement pattern will work the neck extensors helping you look better from behind.

Neck Iso Holds

Neck iso holds are one easy and safe way to target your neck muscles. Without enduring long reps and sets, you can strengthen the musculature around it, and the benefits will come over time. 

You can try flexion iso holds, extension, or lateral iso holds. As your neck strengthens, you can increase the iso time or add extra weight. Usually, 20-30 seconds for 2-3 reps are enough for beginners and intermediates.

A man training his neck
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What Is A Normal Neck Size?

Normal neck size is around 14 – 19 inches or 35 – 48 centimeters for both men and women. Although this may vary depending on the weight, body mass index (BMI), age, and muscle mass.

What Is The Average Neck Size In Men?

The average neck size in men is approximately 15 inches or 38 centimeters.

Is A 16 Inch Neck Big?

In the case of men, 16-inch neck size is still within the limits of healthy and normal neck size. However, if you’re a woman, a 16-inch neck size could indicate health problems such as obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

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