Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Should singers lift weights?

Lifting weights can be helpful or hurtful to the voice; it all depends on how and when you do it.

How weight lifting can help? If done right:
  • Physical stamina-- just like any other physical workout, it builds strength and endurance, increases blood flow and in general is good for physical health - always good for your voice!
  • Mental and emotional well-being-- it releases endorphin and lifts the spirits- makes you feel good, clears the head and increases positive attitude.
  • Breath capacity-- it causes deeper breathing, increasing lung capacity and releasing toxins with the exhale. It also increased abdominal muscle tone, which is necessary for breath support.
  • Physical appearance-- it increases muscle tone and definition, which can make you feel good and also add a little more viability for a commercial music career.
How can weight lifting hurt? If done incorrectly:
  • It can over-strengthen small muscles in the vocal apparatus, causing a lack of flexibility in the larynx... NOT GOOD for singing!
  • It can cause fatigue, compromising breath support and control.
  • It can tighten the throat, neck and shoulders-- all of which must be free and flexible for singing and speaking.
  • Tightening the glottis while holding the breath can actually damage the vocal aparatus!
I train with weights myself... both machine and free weights from 5 to 12 pounds, depending on the exercise and how fit I am at the time.
Here are some guidelines I find useful to protect the voice when lifting weights:
  • Limit the amount of weight you lift! If you push yourself to the limit, you can't help but strain your voice
  • DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH!!... Holding your breath is what tightens the glottis and can lead to damage. Instead, exhale as you lift.
  • Move your head a bit side-to-side while lifting so as to limit "freezing" the muscles of neck and shoulders.
  • Stretch out your muscles before and especially after you lift
  • Don't lift weights right before singing... give your throat, neck and shoulders time to relax. The site I mention below suggests you wait at least 12 hours after lifting before you sing.
  • Find a personal trainer who trains SINGERS and knows how to protect them.
Final word... do be careful. If you strain any of the muscles in the throat, neck and/or shoulders, it WILL hurt your voice, I promise you. But I wouldn't worry about a little weight training, correctly applied. I have personally benefited from it, and I have had many vocal students who are athletes that regularly lift weights. When they heed my advice not to use their upper body strength against their voices, they experience no adverse affects on their voices from wise weight training.
I invite your comments!



  • At May 6, 2009 at 7:16 PM , Anonymous Jess said...

    i was, however, overtraining myself by going to the gym every day. Wasn’t letting my muscles fully heal. The guys at live forever at http://letslivelonger.blogspot.com/2009/04/lift-weights-to-lose-weight.html told me to cut back to 3 days a week. Much better. I am wasting less of my time and gaining more muscle from the times I do a work out. Good to have some days just for cardio too. Thanks guys!

  • At May 23, 2016 at 7:57 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    Hello Ms Judy, forgive me for asking this because it might sound kind of silly and off, im only 15 haha. But im curious if whether weightlifting would take a take a toll on my voice by deepening it somehow? Ive been weightlifting for nearly two years, been from obese to skinny and this concerned me because i have quite a light tenor voice which i appreciate and i never noticed or questioned myself whether the testosterone from all the exercise would have been enough to affect my voice in any way. thank you so much if you read and i hope for you all the best in life!

  • At May 23, 2016 at 10:30 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Hi Michael... actually, I don't know how testosterone from exercise would affect your voice, though I know hormones can indeed affect it. Your voice may still be growing into its adult stage, as well. You shouldn't lose your high notes, if you use good technique, but you would indeed add resonance and lower range as your voice grows into its full expression. Do heed the cautions with weights which I outline in this article. I wish you the very best, too!


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