Average Neck Size Male & Female

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: October 10, 2022

You might not realize it, but the size of your neck says a lot about your health and fitness. A small neck is sometimes seen as a sign of weakness. But an overly large neck could indicate disease or health problems.

So what is an average neck size for men and women? In this article, I share neck size measurements and statistics to help you find the ideal neck size to look healthy and fit.

Average Neck Size

Data Collection Methods

This article refers to the neck circumference measurements obtained from the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research. With my engineering and statistical analysis background, I have compiled the numbers into tables and charts that are easier to understand.

Furthermore, as a certified fitness coach, I explain how these measurements relate to your overall health and fitness.

Why Is Neck Size Important?

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

First, it’s good to know your neck size when buying collared shirts. The proper neck measurements ensure that your collar isn’t too tight or loose.

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 level of fasting glucose, triglycerides, and blood pressure by neck size. For these metrics, a larger neck size puts you at risk for cardiometabolic diseases2.

Average Neck Size Healthy

Average 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.

Average Neck Size Statistics

According to a 2020 study, the average neck size for men is 15.2 inches (38.7 cm). In comparison, the average neck size for women is 13.1 inches (33.3 cm).

However, 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 tables below show neck size by BMI and are 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 shows neck circumferences for men in both inches and centimeters, while table 2 shows neck circumferences for women.

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)

Table 2. Female Neck Circumference Percentiles by BMI

BMI 25th 50th 75th 90th
20.0 12 in (30.4 cm) 12.3 in (31.2 cm) 12.6 in (32 cm) 13 in (33 cm)
22.5 12.3 in (31.3 cm) 12.7 in (32.2 cm) 13.1 in (33.2 cm) 13.5 in (34.2 cm)
25.0 12.6 in (32.1 cm) 13.1 in (33.3 cm) 13.5 in (34.4 cm) 13.9 in (35.3 cm)
27.5 13 in (32.9 cm) 13.5 in (34.2 cm) 13.9 in (35.4 cm) 14.3 in (36.4 cm)
30.0 13.3 in (33.8 cm) 13.8 in (35.1 cm) 14.3 in (36.4 cm) 14.8 in (37.5 cm)
32.5 13.6 in (34.6 cm) 14.1 in (35.9 cm) 14.6 in (37.2 cm) 15.2 in (38.5 cm)
35.0 13.9 in (35.4 cm) 14.4 in (36.7 cm) 15 in (38 cm) 15.6 in (39.5 cm)
37.5 14.3 in (36.2 cm) 14.7 in (37.4 cm) 15.3 in (38.8 cm) 15.9 in (40.4 cm)
40.0 14.5 in (36.9 cm) 15 in (38.2 cm) 15.5 in (39.4 cm) 16.3 in (41.3 cm)

Average Neck Size Charts

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

In the charts 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 in between.

Now it’s much easier to see the difference in neck size between males and females of different BMIs. You can see that males generally have larger necks than females. And the higher your BMI, the bigger your neck tends to be.

Average Neck Size Men
Average Neck Size Women

Average Neck Size for Fit People

Most neck circumference data comes from people in the general population. And you must remember that many people are overweight or obese, which can skew the neck size numbers.

Therefore, it’s essential to include neck circumference data from a healthy population if your goal is to see what your ideal neck size should be. 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 and women.

Table 3. Neck Circumference Percentiles for Fit Men & Women

Percentile Men Women
1st 13.3 in (33.7 cm) 11.2 in (28.4 cm)
2nd 13.5 in (34.2 cm) 11.3 in (28.7 cm)
3rd 13.6 in (34.5 cm) 11.4 in (28.9 cm)
5th 13.7 in (34.9 cm) 11.5 in (29.2 cm)
10th 14 in (35.5 cm) 11.7 in (29.7 cm)
15th 14.2 in (36 cm) 11.8 in (30 cm)
20th 14.3 in (36.3 cm) 11.9 in (30.3 cm)
25th 14.4 in (36.6 cm) 12 in (30.5 cm)
30th 14.5 in (36.9 cm) 12.1 in (30.7 cm)
35th 14.6 in (37.1 cm) 12.2 in (30.9 cm)
40th 14.7 in (37.4 cm) 12.2 in (31.1 cm)
45th 14.8 in (37.6 cm) 12.3 in (31.3 cm)
50th 14.9 in (37.9 cm) 12.4 in (31.5 cm)
55th 15 in (38.1 cm) 12.5 in (31.7 cm)
60th 15.1 in (38.4 cm) 12.6 in (31.9 cm)
65th 15.2 in (38.6 cm) 12.6 in (32.1 cm)
70th 15.3 in (38.9 cm) 12.7 in (32.3 cm)
75th 15.4 in (39.2 cm) 12.8 in (32.5 cm)
80th 15.6 in (39.6 cm) 12.9 in (32.8 cm)
85th 15.8 in (40 cm) 13.1 in (33.2 cm)
90th 16 in (40.5 cm) 13.2 in (33.6 cm)
95th 16.3 in (41.3 cm) 13.5 in (34.3 cm)
97th 16.5 in (41.9 cm) 13.7 in (34.7 cm)
98th 16.6 in (42.3 cm) 13.8 in (35 cm)
99th 16.9 in (42.9 cm) 14 in (35.6 cm)

As you can see, the neck sizes of fit individuals 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 women and men. The higher the graph, the more people have neck circumferences in that size range.

Average Neck Size Chart

Still, you might wonder what neck sizes correspond to the various percentiles. So I put together a simpler table to show neck size circumference ranges.

Table 4. Neck Size Ranges for Men

Neck Size Circumference Percentile
Very Small <14″ 10th
Small 14″ to 14-¾” 25th
Medium 14-¾” to 15-¼” 50th
Large 15-¼” to 16″ 75th
Very Large >16″ 90th

Table 5. Neck Size Ranges for Women

Neck Size Circumference Percentile
Very Small <11-¾” 10th
Small 11-¾” to 12-¼” 25th
Medium 12-¼” to 12-½” 50th
Large 12-½” to 13-¼” 75th
Very Large >13-¼” 90th

Average Neck Size FAQ

Now you know the average neck size for men and women. But you might still want more information regarding your neck. So here are some quick answers to the most frequently asked questions.

What is the ideal neck size?

Most people don’t want a skinny neck. And if your neck has too much fat, you could be at risk for health issues and sleep apnea. So the ideal neck size is somewhere in between skinny and fat.

For men, the ideal neck size is generally 14″ to 16″ in circumference. And women should be in the 11-¾” to 13-¼” range for a healthy neck circumference.

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

Is a 12-inch neck small?

For men, a 12-inch neck is smaller than 99% of other males, even among healthy and fit individuals. So it would be considered extremely small unless you are an adolescent or teenager.

By comparison, 25% of healthy females have a neck 12 inches or smaller in circumference. Therefore, a 12-inch neck is also on the small side for women, although reasonably common if your BMI is normal.

Is 16 inches a big neck?

For men, a 16-inch neck is common if your BMI is over 27.5, which is considered overweight. However, a 16-inch neck would be considered very large among males with a healthy BMI and requires a great deal of muscular development.

Among women, a 16-inch neck is extremely unlikely unless you have a BMI over 40, which is considered the upper end of obesity.

Neck Size and Body Type

A large neck could signify that you have an endomorph body type. This body type is associated with a slower metabolism and a heavier, softer frame.

As an endomorph, it’s generally more challenging for you to lose weight even when you eat less and move more. But you can burn fat and get healthier with specific endomorph diet and workout strategies.

Next Step: Take My Free Body Type Quiz

Neck Size Body Type

Average Waist Size

Now that you know how your neck size compares to the average person, you might be interested to learn more about other body measurements.

Like your neck, your waist size is directly correlated with your health and fitness. Click here to see the average waist size for men and women.

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.

EER Calculator

EER (estimated energy requirement) is the number of calories needed to repay the energy you expend through activity. Knowing your EER prevents fat gain and muscle loss.

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By |October 10, 2022|Bodybuilding|0 Comments
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