Monday, February 14, 2011

Fitness and the Working Drummer

Another question via Facebook...a topic close to my Specifically, as it pertains to the working professional drummer.

"So, may i ask you something? You lift you feel that benefits drumming at all? I lift weights and sometimes feel I could be hurting myself with my drumming, asking your advice from a professional point of view. thanx damon..."

What's up Damon...

I do lift well as a oodles of stage time and a degree in music, I'm also a certified personal trainer…so I guess I'm allowed to have an official "opinion" on the subject, lol!

I can see what you're saying...weight lifting hurting your playing. When I was lifting heavy weights, trying to "bulk up", I found it interfered with my playing. I felt to large and clumsy...part of that, however, had to do with me becoming comfortable with a bit bigger body. It just took some time to adjust. It also took some time for me to find my body's optimal weight…and no, contrary to popular belief touted by the U.S. Health Guidelines, there is NOT a perfect weight for you height…everyone varies. They're good to use as a guideline to a healthy lifestyle, but not as the golden rule. If I went by current standards, I would be considered overweight, borderline obese! (I'm 6'1", 211 lbs)…but I lift weights 4-5 times a week, and they don't take muscle mass into account.

Overall I feel lifting weights, if done correctly, only helps your drumming. A good regimen of core strengthening, cardiovascular training, and high rep/high intensity resistance training is beneficial on so many levels. The core training keeps the back strong for the long hours you sit at the kit. It also keeps the incidence of injury due to twisting at the waist to reach cymbals and drums to a minimum. If you want to…think of your abdominals (upper, mid, lower, and obliques) as well as your low back muscles like a bandage that wraps around all of your insides. The tighter and stronger that bandage, the more support your body is given. A lot of a persons strength and stability come directly from the core.

Cardiovascular training is also an important aspect of your playing...a typical rock drummer burns 600 calories an hour! That's alot of cardiovascular strain on your system...especially if the group you're playing with is high energy or you're on tour performing night after night. Conditioning your body to prepare it for those cardiovascular drum sessions is a must. There are 3500 calories in a pound…so if you break it down, you're burning almost a sixth of a pound every hour you play at an intense performance level. Talk about weight loss! Keeping a consistent weekly regimen of 30-45 minutes of moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise, 3-4 times a week, will improve your performance and stamina drastically. Not to mention the added benefit of having more energy due to the endorphins that are released within the body during intense physical exertion.

On to the weight training. When I was pushing heavy weight, I found it hard to sustain certain movements...prolonged periods on the ride cymbal would make my shoulders burn like the dickens! That being said, since I've changed my training to a much higher repetition program that focuses on functional training and practical exercises, that's been remedied. I think that a program of moderate weight lifting 3-4 times weekly, keeping high reps while at the same time keeping them at a challenging level (1-2 reps from muscle failure, and ocasionlly pushing yourself to complete muscle failure) is VERY beneficial to a drummers health and their prolonged career. It's like a car...if you never give it an oil change, it's going to breakdown on you. We'd expect nothing less. Exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep are like small oil changes for the body.

I'll also add a small bit about stretching…mainly, you should do it! Keeping the body limber is a must. Consistent, daily stretching improves mobility of the joints and muscles, wards away unwanted muscle strains and pulls, and gives you at least a few minutes in your day where you can be still and center your thoughts…all are so very beneficial to a healthy and balanced music career.

To sum it all up…weight training (and any other physical exercise), done correctly, will only improve you as a player.

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you…I was out doing some shows with my band…also, sorry I got long winded, lol...I'm sure that was WAY more info than you were looking for!

With Respect…

Stephen T.


lucas said...

Yeah! Stretching is the key! My drumteacher told me this when I started playing! If you're not warmed up and stretched out- your body will pay you back for that!
Just keep everything loose and you will survive.

Dave (povonodo) said...

Thanks for this post, Stephen. Too bad you don't live near me--I could really use a trainer.

Stephen said...

@Lucas...You're so right. Stretching is such an important thing that gets lost in the shuffle far to often.

@Dave...No worries...we need more healthy drummers, lol! And if I lived near you, I'd be more than happy to bust your chops in a training session ;^)

Trent K said...

@Stephen: I'm currently doing the P90X workout.. any thoughts on yoga and how it is beneficial to us drummers?

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