Physical Conditioning and Maintenance For The Performing Drummer Part 2: The Gig

In part 1 we talked about background, cited a few examples of other activities, and the why. Now we are going to discuss “how.”

We all know when our drumming “hits.” The longer practice sessions, studying with as many as we can, always pushing ourselves. Being young that energy is abundant, and with consistency, it can be kept. Here are some ways to keep everything going smooth when it’s gig time.

1) Cardio. During a live hard rock performance, a drummer’s heart rate can be anywhere from 130 – 190 bpm. A 2 hour rehearsal, practice session, recording, etc can get close, but doesn’t quite have the adrenaline factor. Of course playing itself can be beneficial, but basic pre-event/gig warmups would be ideal. Jumping jacks – 30 seconds, mountain climbers – 30 seconds, running in place – 60 seconds. These will also help with agility, as will –

2) Stretching. Our drumsets are individual, set to how we move, and of course the visual “wow that looks awesome” appeal. However, when performing, our motions tend to be a little more enhanced. To avoid injury, and to be done shortly after the cardio – arm circles – 30 seconds each direction, huggers – 10 times each, toe – hip touches – 25 reps, Shoulder stretch – 30 seconds, torso twists, 15 each direction, hip rock reach (one hand reaches overhead and lean to that side, the other down the leg) – 30 seconds each. (I will post pictures of wrist stretches soon). Runners stretch – 30 seconds each.

3) Strength. Ok, ok, ok, sometimes the shirt needs to come off. Just one thing; we know one of the biggest lies a drummer can hear is “I’ll help you with your stuff.” Rarely, if ever happens, so you may want to rethink that rack system. Here are some you can do just with bodyweight – pushups to submax (you have a gig to play, so no point going to failure), pullups if a stable bar is available, squats – 2 x 10-15, calf raises 2 x 10-15 (superset these; set of squats right into set of calf raises), crunches, v-ups, prison pushups, your choice, and reverse crunch to stabilize your low back. *Speaking of low back, make sure your seat is tight! I had back issues from a seat that went loose and would rock side to side. Got a new seat, back got better. This is one piece of gear you should never pinch pennies on.

4) Diet and hydration. Sucking down a greasy burger or 3 slices of pizza may not be the best idea. Alcohol and energy drinks can actually dehydrate you. Best bet, carb heavy breakfast/lunch, some fruits and nuts in between, and protein (grilled chicken is served just about everywhere). Also, water, and lots of it! Having a low sugar recovery drink with electrolytes is also handy to have on stage. A banana or even low-salt potato chips afterwards will help replace the salts and potassium that you lose in sweat.

5) Cool down. Gig is done, gear is packed, you’re done, right? WRONG! Your blood is still pumping, the adrenaline is wearing off, still sweating. Gotta bring yourself back down. Some lose huggers while walking back and forth to gradually bring your heart rate down will help you sustain not only the rest of the night to hang, but the gig or session you might have the next day. Don’t forget a change of clothes and deodorant….

In part 3, we’ll talk about a workout program that can be done in home or on the road with just your bodyweight, and one of those bands you can get for $10.



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