Disclaimer:  I am no doctor.  The following are things that worked for me!  The following is not intended as medical advice. 

Five years ago I got really involved with lifting weights.  My Dad has neck issues and I always had minor neck issues.  Every so often my neck would hurt after working out so I decided to see a trainer to give me advice on how to work out without hurting my neck.  He said a little bit of neck pain after is natural and he gave me a routine.  I got pretty big pretty fast. 

I followed the routine and everything was fine until about a month later when all of a sudden my neck started to hurt a lot.  I stopped lifting weights for about a week and when I tried to touch even the lightest weights after that my neck would kill again for a week.  The pain was so bad it was like I was physically ill. 

A few years past and I went back to being the scrawny slightly pudgy individual that I started as.  I decided about a year ago I would give getting in shape another go and I’ve developed a few strategies to prevent neck pain or neck injury with people that are injury prone. 

First the absolute top thing that I find that has helped me more than anything is doing a long warm up.  The trainer told me to do a five minute warm up and I find that it’s really not enough.  If I go cold into even a light workout now my neck will hurt a lot for the next few days.  The absolute most important thing for preventing neck pain for me is doing a 20 to 30 minute workout before you start. 

The next thing that I found that helped me avoid neck pain is focusing on exercises where my neck is supported, typically against a bench.  Standing rows, standing curls, all those things really increased the likelihood of me hurting my neck.  I’m sure if I had perfect form this wouldn’t be a problem but the truth is I don’t have perfect form. 

I focus on the following exercises. 

Bench press, inclined bench press, flies, inclined curls, and other seated exercises.  Explore the different websites and find out the exercises that work for you. 

Finally the last thing that I found helped me was putting a cold icepack on my neck after working out.  This along with a vibrating massage machine.  You have to keep this machine hidden because it looks a little bit like a vibrator, but I found it helps me with my neck pain.