5 Keys To Fitness For Musicians
By : Johnny Ryan
Every musician knows that practicing your instrument is a crucial part of any professional career. But most musicians have no clue about what it takes to prepare their bodies for a tour or a performance on stage.
You can have all the ability in the world with your instrument but if you’ve got no stamina physically to perform each and every night, no one will ever know how talented you are.
It takes a great deal of energy and strength to perform on stage night in and night out. You’ve got to prepare your body just as much as you prepare your instrument. Consider it an essential piece of equipment that if neglected, will render your performances worthless if not taken care of.
Here are the 5 Keys to a successful fitness regiment for any performing musician. Each key can be dealt with in great length but here are a few major points on each.
Key #1: Nutrition – How you “fuel and re-fuel” your body, before and after a performance, will determine how successful you will be at achieving your ultimate on stage performance fitness goals. In addition, the types of foods you eat and the balance of those foods will determine how successful you will be when it comes to reaching for your fitness goals.
One very successful method used by many prominent, successful professional musicians is a Zone-like diet plan. Each meal and snack must be properly balanced in the same ratio of:
40% low-glycemic index carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains
30% lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, fish, soy, low-fat dairy products and lean beef
30% healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, flax, fish oils, nuts and seeds.
Eating in this ratio helps to control insulin levels – the hormone that causes weight gain and increased hunger. Mick Jagger, Sting and Jessica Simpson are just 3 stars that utilize this nutritional regiment.
When it’s all said and done, 50 – 80% of your results will come from how you decide to implement your nutritional key.
Key #2: Hydration – I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Water is the essence of life.” It’s true! Hydration is a key element in enabling the body to perform at its highest physical and mental level in any situation. Performing on stage can be very physically and mentally demanding. A professional musician must take advantage of every element available to him to ensure he or she is at their best. Water helps the body recover from the nights’ physical activity. Drinking water throughout your day leading up to a performance, can greatly improve your success that night as well. Members of the Foo Fighters consume at least 12 ounces of electrolyte infused water right before they go on stage to ensure they are properly hydrated for a show. Once on stage, they take three to four sips of a beverage every 10 minutes if possible, or five to six swallows every 15 minutes to make sure that there is good stomach-intestinal flow. I know…sounds gross but its effective.
Key #3: Rest – The body on average, needs at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Without it, it will begin to revolt against you. The body will begin to disappoint and not perform up to its ultimate potential if you sacrifice your rest. The brain will begin to misfire and deceive you into false reality if sleep is not an important spoke in your wheel of overall physical fitness. One very popular practice with 100′s of rock stars is self-healing meditation. From Madonna to Sting, self-healing meditation is an integral part of many professional musicians daily routine to stay rested, prepared and fit.
Key #4: Weight/Resistance Training – Performing a weight training/resistance program, even just 2 days a week can exponentially help the body become more resilient and efficient at taking the punishment it experiences on a nightly basis on tour and stage. This can be done in a number of ways; for example, a circuit training program, a functional training program or a pyramid based weight training program, are just a few types to choose from. Josh Todd of the rock group “Buckcherry” performs a weight training routine every day with just his own body weight doing push ups, sit ups, pull ups and shadow boxing. It’s what helps him get through the incredibly physically demanding shows that he brings to the stage night-in and night-out.
Key #5: Cardiovascular Training – Enhancing the efficiency of the bodies’ heart and lungs is another crucial piece of the fitness puzzle. And it can be improved by simply implementing 2-3 days of a minimum of 20 minutes of cardiovascular training. Just like Weight training, there are several types of cardiovascular programs to choose from and varying these different programs is highly recommended to see timely results. This fact became very evident to the band members of Counting Crows when they hired a personal trainer to work with them during one of their extensive tours. David Immergluck, who plays guitar for “Counting Crows” was wondering why even though he rode the stationary bike for half an hour every day, his body was not changing. He couldn’t get why he was doing the same things over and over the same way, but not seeing change. When the trainer asked him, “Do you play a song the exact same way, day after day, over and over again?” He said “of course not” because that would not challenge him as an artist, help him grow or evolve and would lead to stagnation-then it hit him. Just like with music, if you want to make change, evolve, grow, get better, however you prefer phrasing it-you can’t expect a new result if you are always doing the same steps.
Of course there is far more information on each key than is possible to discuss in an article. We’ve just scratched the surface.
To get more in-depth information on fitness for professional musicians, go to www.johnnyryanmusic.com and download free workout videos, eBooks and other great resources.
Johnny Ryan is a professional singer, songwriter, recording artist and session musician from Denver, CO. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science and is nationally certified with a Personal Fitness Training certification from The American Council on Exercise.
I recommend: Body for Life; by Bill Phillips
My favorite piece of gear: The TRX Suspension Trainer;
One thing on the road I can’t live without: My Mac Book Pro