How Big An 18 Inch Neck Really Is

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTUpdated: March 27, 2024

For men, a skinny neck is often seen as a sign of weakness, while a thick neck suggests strength. As a result, some guys aspire to have an 18-inch neck.

But at what point is a man’s neck considered big, and is bigger really better? In this article, I share neck size measurements and statistics to help you find the ideal neck size to look strong and confident.

18 Inch Neck

Why Is Neck Size Important?

Neck size generally refers to the thickness of your neck and is measured by the circumference (length around). Moreover, knowing your neck size can be beneficial for a couple of reasons.

First, knowing your neck size is helpful when buying collared shirts. The proper neck measurements ensure your collar isn’t too tight or loose, so your outfit looks sharp.

In addition, neck circumference is strongly correlated with body weight, BMI, waist size, and waist-to-hip ratio1. Therefore, it’s a good predictor of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and sleep apnea.

To illustrate, the chart below shows the relative fasting glucose, triglycerides, and blood pressure by neck size. For these metrics, a larger neck size puts you at risk for cardiometabolic diseases2.

18 Inch Neck Risks

Neck Size Factors

Generally, people with larger frames tend to have thicker necks. So it makes sense that men usually have bigger necks than women.

However, your body weight and composition also affect your neck size. Overweight and obese people tend to have larger necks than thin people due to an accumulation of body fat in the face and neck.

Finally, resistance training and other high-intensity activities build up the traps and neck muscles, giving you a thicker neck.

  • Body Size
  • Gender
  • Body Fat
  • Muscle Mass

How to Measure Neck Size

Usually, you should measure your neck’s circumference using a flexible tape or tailor’s tape. The tape should be perpendicular to the long axis of the neck or parallel to the floor. During the measurement, stand upright with your head straight and your shoulders and arms relaxed.

Wrap the flexible tape around your neck and pull it snugly but not so tight that it indents your skin. Then use a mirror or a friend to read the number where the end of the tape overlaps.

If you don’t have a flexible measuring tape, you can also use a piece of string. Then mark where the string overlaps with your finger and pull it straight so you can measure the length with a standard ruler or tape measure.

Finally, you can measure neck circumference in two locations; just below your Adam’s apple or at the base of your neck. The data in this article is from neck measurements taken below the Adam’s apple, as this prevents overestimating neck size and is more representative of your actual collar size.

Average Neck Size Circumference

In this example, the person’s neck is 40 cm (15.7 inches) in circumference.

How Big Is An 18 Inch Neck?

According to a 2020 study, the average neck size for men is 15.2 inches (38.7 cm). So an 18-inch neck is almost 3 inches (7.6 cm) larger than normal.

To put it another way, an 18-inch neck is about 18% larger in circumference than an average man’s neck. That might not sound like much, but it equates to a much larger neck in terms of thickness.

As an example, if you take a cross-section of your neck, you get a circle. And the image below illustrates that an 18-inch neck is actually 40% larger in area than a 15.2-inch neck.

18 Inch Neck Size

This simple graphic shows the relative size of an 18-inch neck.

Still, it is possible for men to have a neck that measures 18 inches around. And to understand how likely this measurement is, we need to look at average neck size statistics.

18 Inch Neck Statistics

It’s important to remember that neck circumference strongly correlates with body weight and BMI. So it’s a good idea to account for your BMI to see if your neck is average size.

BMI Calculator

The table below shows neck size by BMI and is subdivided into 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles. The 50th percentile is the average neck size at each BMI. While the 25th percentile is below average and the 75th and 90th are above average.

Table 1. Male Neck Circumference Percentiles by BMI
BMI 25th 50th 75th 90th
20.0 13.7 in (34.7 cm) 14.1 in (35.7 cm) 14.4 in (36.7 cm) 14.8 in (37.6 cm)
22.5 14.3 in (36.2 cm) 14.6 in (37.2 cm) 15.1 in (38.3 cm) 15.5 in (39.3 cm)
25.0 14.8 in (37.6 cm) 15.2 in (38.7 cm) 15.7 in (39.8 cm) 16.1 in (40.9 cm)
27.5 15.3 in (38.9 cm) 15.7 in (40 cm) 16.2 in (41.2 cm) 16.7 in (42.3 cm)
30.0 15.7 in (39.9 cm) 16.2 in (41.2 cm) 16.7 in (42.4 cm) 17.2 in (43.6 cm)
32.5 16 in (40.7 cm) 16.6 in (42.2 cm) 17.2 in (43.6 cm) 17.6 in (44.7 cm)
35.0 16.3 in (41.5 cm) 17 in (43.2 cm) 17.6 in (44.7 cm) 18 in (45.8 cm)
37.5 16.7 in (42.4 cm) 17.4 in (44.2 cm) 18.1 in (45.9 cm) 18.5 in (46.9 cm)
40.0 17.1 in (43.4 cm) 17.8 in (45.3 cm) 18.5 in (47.1 cm) 18.9 in (47.9 cm)

18 Inch Neck Chart

Sometimes tables make it hard to visualize the data because our brains can’t compare all those numbers at the same time. So I put the neck circumference data in a color-coded chart to help you see small, medium, and large neck sizes.

In the chart below, you can see different shades of green, yellow, and red. Green numbers are the smallest, red numbers are the largest, and yellow numbers are somewhere between.

As you can see, an 18-inch neck is in the dark orange to red areas and generally only occurs in BMIs over 35, which are generally overweight or obese.

18 Inch Neck Chart

18 Inch Neck for Fit Guys

Most neck circumference data comes from people in the general population. And unfortunately, most people are not in very good shape.

Therefore, it’s essential to include neck circumference data from a healthy population if your goal is to see your ideal neck size. And in general, people in the military tend to have lower BMIs and be in better overall shape.

I’ve compiled neck circumference measurements from the 1988 Anthropometric Survey of US Army Personnel in the table below. So you can see neck sizes for fit men.

Table 2. Neck Circumference Percentiles for Fit Men
Percentile Neck Size
1st 13.3 in (33.7 cm)
2nd 13.5 in (34.2 cm)
3rd 13.6 in (34.5 cm)
5th 13.7 in (34.9 cm)
10th 14 in (35.5 cm)
15th 14.2 in (36 cm)
20th 14.3 in (36.3 cm)
25th 14.4 in (36.6 cm)
30th 14.5 in (36.9 cm)
35th 14.6 in (37.1 cm)
40th 14.7 in (37.4 cm)
45th 14.8 in (37.6 cm)
50th 14.9 in (37.9 cm)
55th 15 in (38.1 cm)
60th 15.1 in (38.4 cm)
65th 15.2 in (38.6 cm)
70th 15.3 in (38.9 cm)
75th 15.4 in (39.2 cm)
80th 15.6 in (39.6 cm)
85th 15.8 in (40 cm)
90th 16 in (40.5 cm)
95th 16.3 in (41.3 cm)
97th 16.5 in (41.9 cm)
98th 16.6 in (42.3 cm)
99th 16.9 in (42.9 cm)

As you can see, the neck sizes of fit men are typically smaller than the general population. Again, this is due to less adipose tissue stored in the necks of active people.

Below is a chart showing the normal distribution of neck sizes for males. The higher the graph, the more men have neck circumferences in that size range.

18 Inch Neck Percentile Chart

From this sample of nearly 1,800 military men, only 4 of them had a neck measuring more than 18 inches. And the largest neck measurement was 18.5 inches. So an 18-inch neck is very rare among men who are not overweight or obese.

On the other hand, it’s unlikely these men were weightlifting to the extent that civilian males can. This means an 18-inch neck could be more common among advanced bodybuilders.

18 Inch Neck Size FAQ

Now you know what the likelihood of having an 18-inch neck is. But you might still have some other specific questions about neck size. So here are some quick answers to other common queries.

What is considered a large neck?

Based on average male neck size statistics, a large neck would generally be considered anything over 16 inches in circumference. Perhaps not coincidentally, this neck size also corresponds to a size Large in dress shirts with neck measurements.

What size is an 18 inch neck?

At the same time, an 18″ neck is generally an XXL dress shirt size. And the other corresponding measurements are a 36.5″ sleeve, a 47-49″ chest, and a 41-43″ inch waist.

So typically, an 18-inch neck belongs to very large men.

Table 3. Dress Shirt Neck Size Chart for Men
Shirt Size Neck Size
XS 13-13.5 in (33.0-34.3 cm)
S 14-14.5 in (35.6-36.8 cm)
M 15-15.5 in (38.1-39.4 cm)
L 16-16.5 in (40.6-41.9 cm)
XL 17-17.5 in (43.2-44.5 cm)
XXL 18-18.5 in (45.7-47.0 cm

Is an 18-inch neck too big?

Generally, an 18-inch neck is unlikely unless you’re overweight or obese. And if your neck has too much fat, you could be at risk for health issues and sleep apnea.

So a neck measurement of 18 inches is probably too big for most men unless you have a massive frame and muscular build.

What is the ideal neck size?

For men, the ideal neck size for looking fit and strong is generally 15 to 17 inches.

Of course, the best neck size for you also depends on your ideal weight and BMI. So use this range as a general guideline only and not a hard and fast rule.

More Body Measurements

Now that you know everything there is to know about an 18 inch neck. And you should have a good idea of your ideal neck size based on your BMI and fitness goals.

But whether you’re searching for clothes that fit or trying to get fit, there are so many other body measurements to consider. So here are some additional articles you will find helpful:

Average Male Chest Size by Height & Percentiles

How Big Is a 34 Inch Waist & Ideal Waist Size

Relative Size of 20 Inch Thighs on Men & Women

Average Calf Size for Males & Females

How Big Are 16-Inch Arms?

If you liked this article, check out some of my other awesome content below. You’ll find helpful tips on nutrition, supplements, and workouts to reach your fitness goals faster.

Share with your community and get the conversation started!

Go to Top