Healing Hands Therapy

Strength Training for Musicians: Good or Bad?

Strength Training for Musicians: Good or Bad?

Musicians should be thinking of themselves as athletes, but you and I both know that’s not always true (wink wink!). Many musicians don’t exercise enough, or they don’t work out at all even though what they do can put their bodies under extreme stress due to long practice hours in incredibly contorted positions. Therefore, they must take care of a few things and include them in their routine; such as properly warming up and stretching before they begin practicing and getting relevant training to build up their body strength.

It’s important to practice the right way, so you need to know what the best exercises are for your body type. If you’re just getting started with strength training for musicians and want some guidance on how to start, read on!

Strength Training for Musicians

Music may be quite a rewarding career, but it takes a toll on your physical health if you’re not careful enough. That is why musicians need to be strong to avoid musician injury, but that does not mean they need to be bulky. Strength training is, therefore, just the thing for you because it can help prevent injury, improve performance and recovery from injury, and improve posture.  Not to mention all the other health benefits exercising provides 🙂

Some of the important tips to consider before embarking on a strengthening program:

  • See a professional for at least 1-2 visits/sessions so that they can go over your body type. This is PRICELESS and will help you avoid injury from working out
  • Ideally, that person will assess where you have muscle imbalances and provide you with areas that need more stretching/lengthening of the tissues first and then provide you with targeted exercises to strengthen the muscles that need it specific to you.
  • For whoever you might work with it is crucial for them to look at what instrument you play because the requirements of every instrument are different and the contortionist movements required for the instrument give HUGE clues as to what is going to need focus.
  • It’s about balancing your muscles and helping out the poor muscles that get overworked playing and facilitating the ones that get underworked.
  • Focusing on postural muscles is KEY!

What Is The Purpose Of Strength Training For Musicians?

Musicians have unique needs. They are at risk for injury and need to be strong and flexible, which means they need strength training. Strength training along with special therapy for musicians helps improve performance, posture, balance, and more.

How To Begin A Program Of Strength Training For Musicians

Start with a simple program. There are many different approaches to strength training, and it’s important to choose the one that works best for you. Some people like the more traditional approach of using weights or machines; others prefer more bodyweight exercises, like push-ups and pull-ups.

Progress slowly at first: As you progress through your program, increase the amount of weight used by 5% every two weeks until you reach your goal weight or target level of fitness (depending on which system you’re using). It can take years before most people feel comfortable working out vigorously enough to be able to increase their weights without injury risk, but it’s okay if that doesn’t happen right away! Just keep doing what feels good and safe during this period of adjustment time.”

When Should You Include Resistance Training In Your Gym Routine?

Warm up before a workout. This helps to increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, which will give you more energy than if you just hopped on a machine and started lifting weights. It also helps prevent injury by increasing flexibility, range of motion, and strength through warm-up exercises like squats or lunges. A good rule of thumb is to spend at least five minutes doing some kind of dynamic stretching before starting any sort of strength training session (grabbing a yoga tape if this isn’t already part of your normal routine).

Cool down after heavy workouts with stretches and lighter weights or just movements that use your body weight. You can even add in some light cardio such as jogging or cycling for an extra boost or even include hand therapy for musicians to get some more help.

What types of resistance exercise should you do?

Resistance training is the best way to build muscle, increase strength and bone density, and improve balance and coordination.

The best exercises for resistance training are those that work for all major muscle groups at once or in isolation (e.g., squats).

How Often Should You Get Out For A Workout?

Strength training should be done 2-3 times a week, for 15-30 minutes at a time. Do not overdo it! You can do this by setting aside 30 minutes on the weekend or whenever you have free time, or even just once or twice during the week if that works better for you.

For strength training exercises, there are LOTS of different theories out there for reps and sets, increasing and decreasing weight even during the sets.  But initially, 3 sets of 10 repetitions are recommended.

The benefits of strength training are numerous, but it is important not to overdo it.

Musicians are at risk of overtraining, which can result in injuries and other health problems. It’s important to be careful not to strain your tendons or muscles by doing too much strength training.

There are several different types of exercises that musicians can do:

  • focus on exercises that improve your posture. You spend far too much time contorted around your instrument which is hard to be in a good posture (there are ways to fit your body to your instrument to facilitate a better posture (THIS is KEY and when my clients do this it sets them up for HUGE success AND helps release tension while playing).
  • I typically avoid a lot of pec strengthening as most musicians are in a forward posture and my experience these muscles are already super tight and need to be opened up and stretched first, then light strengthening is ok.
  • Hand/forearm and wrist strengthening in musicians: this is a topic all on its own…but in general….I do NOT recommend doing weights for wrist and forearm strengthening or squeezing exercises for grip strength for musicians. All of these muscles are OVERWORKED with musicians and need opening up.  If you have had a specific injury then these might be beneficial under the care of a qualified therapist.  Repetitively squeezing spring-loaded grippers or something of the like has led to too many musicians coming to see me because of overdoing it and they then have an injury.


If you’re a musician who is just starting in the field, then strength training can be a great way to improve your performance and prevent injuries. However, if you have been playing for decades and are already at risk of injury due to age or overuse, then it might be time for other forms of exercise like yoga or Pilates classes. Opting for physical therapy for musicians also helps a great deal with the musician-specific as well as with normal types of injuries.

How to decide though? Contact a professional like Heather at Healing Hands Therapy Center and get it all sorted out. They offer private coaching services that are designed just for you according to the needs of your body. They also have different wellness programs and courses that will help you discover your own body and its needs and teach you to take care of it properly.

So, what are you waiting for? Book your session now!


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