Updated: November 30th, 2020
I know you must have noticed and wondered why most drummers are incredibly lean and physically fit. Well, this is because drumming is a good exercise and amazingly an excellent way to get in shape. Anyone who has been drumming for a long time will tell you that you can get a great workout by drumming a certain way.
But, in as much as drumming is a good exercise, drummers still need to exercise or undertake some workout routines to help build their muscles and get them ready. As a challenging activity, it requires not only physical stamina but also an excellent posture and muscular endurance. Any drumming workout should always target the muscles as well as the neck, shoulders, and lower back as they are the most vulnerable during a prolonged drumming session. In addition to that, it can help you strengthen your weakness and work on essential aspects of drumming, thereby increasing your chances of becoming a professional.
This article will explore some of the drumming workouts every drummer should know and the importance of including drumming as your workout routine if you are not a drummer.
Drum Warm-Up Exercises
No athlete on the field would want to start running a marathon without warming up first. In the same vein, no drummer would wish to begin hard-hitting a drumming session without warming up. As a drummer, it is vital to warm up both physically and mentally before you sit down at your drum set. In warming up your muscles, it increases your range of motion, as well as enhances blood flow. Hence, your body will move quickly, and as a result of that, you will be able to keep the rhythm.
There are a few reasons why drumming warm-up routines are essential, which we will discuss below.
- Warm-up routines help you avoid injuries. One of the reasons why a warm-up routine is essential is that it will help you avoid injuries. While drumming, there is every possibility that you might hurt yourself, so that is why it is always important to warm up. In addition to going slow in the beginning, you also give your wrists some time to get used to the actions they will soon be performing. Being considerate of your body and giving your muscles time to get warmer will prevent many injuries.
- A warm-up routine gives you time to practice the basics and other vital techniques. Warming up before starting your drumming workout gives you the time to practice the basics and vital techniques. Most times, we tend to forget the basics once we learn new techniques, and the moment they are ignored, we may get sloppy in our playing of drums. One way to combat this is through constant practice, even practice without drums. It helps to keep us in good shape, our minds focused, and our bodies adequately prepared. A drumming warm-up routine will always serve as an avenue to practice these basics.
- Warm-up routines give you time to get into the appropriate mindset. A drumming warm-up routine is vital as it gives you time to get into the proper mindset before playing. Most times, you sit down to play your drums after a hectic and troublesome day, you can get rid of the mental baggage you have, help you clear your head, get focused and align your thoughts so that you become one with your drums. Having a clear head before drumming should not be overlooked because, like any other creative and expressive act, preparation, or warm-up is vital.
Now that we have seen some of the benefits or importance of drumming warm-up routines, we will now go ahead and discuss the different types of warm-up exercises – both physical and mental activities.
The physical warm-up exercises include:
One of the physical warm-up exercises is hands stretching to make a fist. In doing this, you grip your fingers very tight and then open them. Allow them to go as far as they will go. You should do this several times for each of your hands as it will help strengthen your grip and your forearms as well.
Shoulder Blade Squeeze
The shoulder blade squeeze is another excellent warm-up physical exercise for drummers. You do this by sitting or standing up tall with your arms at your sides. This posture would help to strengthen your back and open your chest. You should also try not to shrug your shoulder but to keep them relaxed and down. Stay in that position for some seconds, maybe 6 to 10 seconds, and then relax. Repeat the exercise 8 to 10 times for a better result.
Shoulder stretching is also another type of physical warm-up activity. It is crucial because your shoulders need more flexibility to play the drums. How do you do this? You start by relaxing your shoulders, raise one of your arms to your shoulder height and reach it across your chest. Then, you pull the arm slightly toward you with your other arm. What this does is that it helps you get a gentle stretch. Stay in that position for about 6 seconds. When you are done, repeat the exercise 2 to 4 times.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Just as your shoulders, your hip, and legs need to be flexible too to play drums. This flexibility can be achieved through stretching the hip flexors. You do this by kneeling on your right knee. Put your left foot on the floor and your left knee at a 90-degree angle. Move your hip forward but still maintain a straight back. Lean your torso forward and stay in that position for about 25 – 30 seconds. When you are done, repeat the exercise 2 – 5 times with each leg and also try to increase your stretch each time.
Because the drummer needs his or her bodies to be upright and engaged while playing, it becomes necessary to work on the core. For crunching, you start by lying down on your back, with your feet on the floor and hip apart. You then bend your knees and place your arms across your chest. While doing this, contract your abs and inhale. Next, exhale and lift your upper body, keeping your head and neck relaxed. When you are done, inhale again and return to the starting position.
Physical warm-up exercises are not just enough, as the following mental warm-up exercises would be beneficial to drummers.
Drummers need to focus and have a clear mind before performing. Yoga and meditation can help them achieve this. In warming up and preparing your mind for a performance, you need to leave other parts of your lives to the side. Before you start, get a yoga mat. Sit on it with your bare foot and make sure that you are putting on a comfortable outfit, one that will allow you to stretch and move around comfortably.
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Practicing your beat
As a drummer, before you start any performance, the first thing you do is to practice your beats and rhythms. Start slowly with a particular pattern and try to keep your body loose. Gradually speed up the pattern until you feel the tension and then back it down again.
Let us now explore the different types of drumming workouts.
a. Good posture workout
Drummers must have a good posture, which is why they need to engage in posture exercises or drills. This kind of workout helps to prevent postural strains in drummers’ experience while playing drums. When drummers play their instruments, the need to always position their arms and hands in front of their body will cause them to develop backache. Not only that, but the ligaments of their spine would be affected too.
While performing posture workouts, drummers soon develop strength, flexibility, and balance in their bodies, as the stress on their muscles and ligaments reduces. With a good routine, you will have less muscle pain and more energy to play throughout the day, while the risk of sustaining an injury becomes minimal.
I know the next question on your mind is, how do I perform a good posture workout? You can do this by sitting on the edge of your chair, place your feet at about a shoulder-width apart and then roll forward until you have a visible curve in your lumbar spine. The next step is to drop your arms to your sides and then turn your palms over. At this point, you should feel a light stretch in your forearm flexor muscles. Go ahead and lower your shoulders down and back; push out your chest, and pull your collar bones back.
Push your chin to your throat, and then move your head toward the back. When your ears are in a vertical position with your shoulders, stay in that position for at least 30 seconds. While stretching, make sure you are breathing deeply through your nose.
ii. Low back stabilization workout
The low back stabilization workout is essential and should be done daily to protect your back from injury and also to improve your posture while drumming. Remember that as a drummer, you are always in a seated or slouchy position, which can affect your posture and inflict back pain if care is not taken.
The best way to perform this workout is to start an all fours, that is to say, stretch out your right arm and left leg at the same time. Keep your thigh and knees in a vertical position while your hips, elbows, and hands are in line with your shoulder. Your knee must stay about hip-width apart. Moving on from that, you should keep your hips stable and your torso parallel to the floor. Go ahead and lift your right leg and left arm slowly and simultaneously until they are all in line with your torso and parallel to the floor. Maintain the position for 15 to 25 seconds before lowering, and starting from the top again, with opposite limbs.
iii. Neck active range of motion workout
This routine is another form of drumming workout. Its importance lies in the fact that from the arrangement of a conventional drum set and the physical requirement of drumming, it is ordinary for drummers to crane their neck. One of the effects of the neck active range of motion workout is that it helps to stretch the tight neck muscles of a drummer and mobilize his or her spinal joints in multiple directions.
The workout can be done by first slowly flexing your neck forward, then pull it back until you reach your end range motion. You can go ahead to use your fingertips to add some light pressure at your end ranges of motion, which will improve the stretch. After this, you return your head to a neutral and upright position. You then bend your left ear toward your left shoulder and your right ear to your right shoulder.
You round by rotating your head to the extreme left, and then right, depending on your range of motion. It is important to note that, in doing this, all movements should be slow and careful. There is also a possibility that you will feel a gentle stretch in your neck muscles at your end range of motion.
It is already a fact that drumming is a physical activity that requires consistent practice to make those that engage in it, great drummers. But with this constant practice, comes pain in some area of your body. The exercises drummers should partake in, as well as their benefits, cannot be overemphasized. Hence, newbies and advanced drummers should know these routines to help them stay fit while producing powerful sounds.