Your Body is Your Instrument.
Keeping in great physical shape is not a vanity activity for the singer. It is a professional necessity. But where are you going to find the time and energy? After going crazy at your day job then gobbling a fast bite on the way to a night rehearsal, you’re squeezed at both ends. But you’ve got to carve time out somewhere! Sacrifice 30 minutes of rehearsal for a few laps around the park to make the rest of the rehearsal a killer. Let the musicians tighten up their parts with a run-through before you show up. In my experience, the singer has to do too much work at a rehearsal, singing over and over again just for the instrumentalist to get it right, while you wear out your voice.
Exercise improves singing by increasing your cardiovascular strength and breath stamina. A good sweat stimulates your endorphins and strengthens overall muscle tone. Sports can help you sing higher, clearer, with less strain, and more energy and emotion. If you chose the right kind of exercise at the right time of day, you will feel relaxed, clearheaded, invigorated, and more capable of facing the pressures of your overloaded schedule. Plus I guarantee you will definitely sing better.
Protect your throat in extreme weather.
When exercising outdoors, avoid working out in very cold climates on the same day as a performance because the chilly air will dry out your lungs and throat. In desert climates, winter or summer, drink an extra 2 glasses of water a day, to total 80 oz. per day. In most climates, drink 64 oz. to keep your voice fit. In any climate avoid heavy activity outdoors when it is hot. It will dehydrate your voice. Running on roadways with steady traffic is a bad idea for your voice. If running on urban streets, wait until the pollution is at it’s lowest: in the misty morning or in the cool sundown.
Exercise vigorously for 30 minutes on the days that you sing.
Choose an activity you enjoy that gets you breathing hard and starts your heart pumping. Whether you exercise in a health club or at home to a favorite DVD, out on a hiking trail or bike ride, its all good!
Keep it simple! Stick to your routine, choose activities that suit your lifestyle, climate and geography.
- Keep it affordable! Mix it up with Power Walks. Don’t skip a workout if your gym is closed.
- Keep it interesting! Rotate different activities throughout the week
- Keep it mobile! Create a routine that you can stick to when traveling.
- Keep it forever! Create a routine which you can enjoy anywhere, anytime at any age.
Recommended Sports for Singers
The best exercise for singers is endurance swimming. Whether in a pool, lake or ocean, swimming conditions your heart and lungs, tightens your stomach, expands your back, strengthens your tiny rib muscles, increases you breath capacity, and stretches your throat. Before performing, a vigorous 30-minute swim will settle your nerves, pump up your lungs, and kick your endorphins into gear. Follow with a 30-minute vocal warm-up.
Swimming Precautions: Protect your ears, nose, and throat from infections. Wear water-resistant earplugs and use after-swim ear drops available over the counter. Avoid cold ocean water because you can develop bone growths know as surfer’s ear.
Martial Arts and Yoga
Martial arts or Yoga will tune your focus and help tremendously with stage anxiety. Posture, alignment, breath control, power confidence and energy will also improve. Yoga develops strength, balance, breath coordination, mental clarity, concentration and relaxation. Tai Chi, a fluid Chinese martial art, teaches you to “center” your energy while building a sense of connection to the breath. Karate, Tai Kwon Do, and Aikido are also good but do get permission from the instructor to skip the screams!
Team and Solo Sports
Try Bicycling, running, hiking, brisk walks, skating, basketball or aerobic machines like the elliptical cross trainer. Note: Don’t hunch your shoulders on the Stair Master!
Sports ” Red Flags” for Singers
Weight Training and Power Lifting
Excessive weight training is a drawback for male singers because it develops the posture incorrectly. Male weight lifters develop rounded backs, necks that slope forward, tense shoulders, inflexible abs and rigid ribs. The result is limited range, decreased lung capacity and decreased resonance. Men should keep their weight training to a balanced workout that creates muscle tone, not mass in the neck and shoulders. However for female singers, moderate weight training is a good idea, because female singers tend to have looser abs from all the breathing expansion. A little tightening up will help.
Cheerleaders gain confidence for performing in crowds but often damage their voices unless they lipsync the cheers.Forcing the cheer voice at the volumes required also causes a poor singing tone, and may shorten your career – if you attain one at all.
Training in dance has a mixed bag of benefits and drawbacks. The biggest problems come for decreased body weight, smoking, short breaths and contracted ribs.
High Impact Aerobics Instructor
I have been vocal coach to many professional trainers and class instructors : all of them had decreased resonance and range due to yelling over the music.
Avoid training the core muscles into a rock hard body if you want a fluid range and melodic voice.
Competitive Marathon Running
Marathons are a dangerous sport for singers due to dehydration, hoarseness, decreased muscle tissue and low body weight.
One or two races in a lifetime might be a fun challenge, but not as a lifelong pursuit.