Exercise for drummers is not a popular topic but it’s an important one. As I get older, it is clearer to me just how important my fitness positively and negatively affects my drumming.

I was reading about drummer Phil Collins the other day. He had some major back issues that have severely restricted his ability to play drums. I believe his issues are related to years of poor drumming posture.

If you suffer from low back pain, you might also like my blog post about the best drum throne cushion. This one cushion has changed my drumming life.

Exercise for drummers is essential

Let’s face the music. Drums are a physically demanding instrument. I think the most demanding. Not to mention the drum schlepp we have to do just to get to and from the gig.

From a young age, I adopted a regular routine for exercise that includes cardio, strength training and Yoga stretching. I will be honest though, I can’t seem to follow it consistently. Having a family, certainly makes time even more of a premium than it already is.

Walking is great exercise! Of course I listen to tunes!

Recently, I started up my routine again and wanted to share some of the things I do to help me stay strong and fit for playing drums. I am in my late 40’s so this is not a lose weight and look sexy Millennial program!

My exercise routine for drummers is about keeping what I’ve got!

Sure, when I was young, I stayed fit because

  1. I had tons of time and
  2. I wanted to look good for chicks.

Fast forward 20 something years and it’s only about keeping my muscles strong and my blood flowing! If I don’t exercise for even a few days, I feel more tired when I start my exercise routine. After I’m done though, I usually get a super charge of energy.

“After 40, no false moves!”

Saxophonist tim tsukiyama

I was in the Honolulu Jazz Quartet for almost 14 years with my good friend and great saxophonist Tim Tsukiyama. When I turned 40 he said, “After 40, no false moves!” When he said that, I chuckled but I soon came to realize what he meant.

There’s some kind of physical change that happens at 40. I started getting aches and pains, I never had before. I’d pull my muscles easily. I stopped being able to run. My spine started having issues, etc.. I sound like an old man saying all of this but it was true.

Carrying and sitting playing drums for long periods of time started to be a chore. I slowly but surely began to know what it felt like to get older. I’ll tell you one thing. I don’t like it.

Young drummers pay attention

If you’re a young drummer reading this blog post, you probably don’t think too much of it or about exercise for drummers. Maybe all of this ‘aging’ stuff seems so far away. I will tell you from experience that as you get older, life goes faster and the aches and pains will come.

Speaking of pain, check out my other blog post about the Moeller Technique. Learning Moeller took my drumming pain to 0! Click the link below.

My after 40 exercise for drummers routine

If you’re my age or older, then you already know. This post is probably written for you. I have developed an exercise routine for drummers that I feel keeps me fit and strong. It also doesn’t pull muscles and isn’t at all about speed or endurance. I also tend to do my routine in the morning every other day. That seems to work best for my schedule.

I’m not recommending any specific kind of exercise routine for you. I just want to share mine to maybe inspire you to get in better shape with me and create your own routine. Find some exercises that keep you strong for playing drums in the years to come.

A Shinto Shrine in my neighborhood.

I start with morning Yoga stretches and a walk

Since I was 22, I have used the same stretching routine at night before I sleep and in the morning before I exercise. All of the stretches are from BKS Iyengar’s book The Illustrated Light On Yoga. I like Iyengar Yoga because it’s all about gradually increasing my flexibility and maintaining what I’ve got.

I am fortunate to live in a very hilly area. Getting a good warm-up walk and cardio is easy. By the time I return home 45 minutes later, I am all warmed up from head-to-toe and ready for the other parts of my routine.

The walk is critical for me not to strain muscles in my other exercises. When I was young, warming up was an afterthought. It’s now always present at the beginning of each workout.

Stairs are great but I don’t overdo it. My knees are as young as they used to be!

Part of my walk involves walking up and down stairs. For me it’s not about speed. It’s about cardio and maintaining mobility. I take my time. I also bring water with me especially in the hot months. Summers here in Japan are no joke! They call them “mushi atsui” or hot and humid.

At home the workout continues

When I get home from my walk, I get straight into the rest of my routine. The next thing I do is work on the big muscles first (learned that in high-school weight training class). I usually do sets of pushups alternating with crunches.

Pushups are so great for strengthening my upper body. Quality over quantity works well for me.

My pushups have been on my knees for a while due to a shoulder injury I sustained (not from drumming). I do them very slowly. If I go too quickly, I will certainly strain my shoulder or another muscle. Probably a muscle I didn’t even know I have!

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For my drummer fitness routine, I am very careful not to injure myself or my drumming muscles!

Crunches don’t strain my back like full sit ups do.

After I’m done with those, I jump rope for a few sets.

In Japan we don’t wear shoes in the house. I’m skipping rope in my socks!

The finish line

Then I’m “pau” (Hawaiian for ‘done’) with my drummer fitness routine. It feels great and I don’t have any pain (unless that after 40 mystery pain comes around ;). Some folks do a cool down but as of yet, I don’t find it necessary. I do walk around the house to let my heart rate decrease gradually. Then I hit the shower!

I hope you found something useful here today. Everybody and every body is different so listen to yours. “No pain, no gain” is for 20 somethings. After 40-somethings don’t need the pain. There is no gain, just more pain!

I wish you well in your health always and please continue to be safe out there. KEEP ON DRUMMIN’!

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