Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
October 22, 2018
From time to time, we have to lighten things up and explore the other parts of life that are often times ridiculous to ponder. I have done this before, pontificating on what you would need to do to become a real life Mega Man (i.e. lost of curls and leg work) or how much you would have to eat just to become a top 10 Strongman (10,000 calories a day is a good start). We often see things in our everyday life and pass them off because we don’t really understand the intricacy of the movements. I absolutely hated the “boy bands” of the early 00’s and when you have two little sisters, you are gonna see and hear all of that noise. But I give N’Sync the edge because they could sing live AND complete physically demanding dance steps. To be able to jump around on a stage and not lose any capability within your voice is pretty impressive, regardless if your music causes the average person’s ears to bleed. So all I can really say to that is never judge someone for what they can do because you sure as hell might not have the same capability (though I can make a better burrito at Chipotle than the people at a particular location I don’t go to anymore). So what is this rambling all about you say? Well, I was inspired due to a cool concert I went to on Saturday night called Deafheaven.
Now we have been talking about various injuries and what not over the last few weeks, and they all seem to stem from the problem of usage. When you do too much of something, you either become really good at it or your create a problem. If you are really good at making apps for a cell phone, them you keep making more apps. However, if you are constantly entering data and using your computer, you will eventually come up with a problem with your hands. You get the idea. Anyway, I have a lot of respect for heavy metal music and all of the various genres and sub-genres that make up the metal family tree (hmm, sounds like a good name for band). What people interpret as loud noise is some of the most complex and difficult music you can ever really listen to, and the physicality of the music is no exception. While having to play the music and create a complex rhythm is hard enough, you have to be able to play this stuff for hours on end, and as you will see below, it ain’t easy.
Let’s start with the drumming. Being a drummer in itself can be a physical endurance test, which is why a lot of drummers tend to be the healthiest and longest living members of their bands (like Ringo Starr of the Beatles, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd and Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones to name a few). However, these three were just standard drummers from a jazz background. Heavy metal drumming is a completely different monster and starts with a ton of energy expenditure due to the speed you have to play. Many metal bands plow through drummers due to this. Some drummers have indicated playing drums for a metal band is like running a marathon every show. Hyperbole you might think? Well, a lot of bands utilize double pedals for the base drum, and that results in a ton of work on the legs. So not only do your legs have to be in top shape, you have to have the cardio to do that in edition to working your arms. A lot of drummers in these bands usually get shoulder and back problems, and need constant attention on their bodies. Deafheaven drummer Daniel Tracy in an interview described it as a huge mental push, blasting the drums for a couple hours every night. “Your shoulders are killing you and your legs are tired and you just want this thing to be over.” Now this is where the personal becomes problematic with the so called reality. There has actually been studies that have touched on this subject!
https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2648&context=thesesOf course, it was a very small sample size and the bands they used might not have adhered to the actual style the researchers described. The caloric burn of drumming is far and wide, for some estimates say you can burn 250 calories an hour or some as high 600. Just depends on the style I guess. Now we will stay away from the argument of whether metal drumming is better than other techniques, but one thing that can be agreed upon is metal drummers have to be the fittest. So keep that in mind. And of course, drumming even has a goofy fitness program https://www.drum.fit/.
Okay, so you don’t have the stamina and the coordination to be a drummer. That’s okay, you can play guitar! Wrong!! Okay, so you think picking up a guitar is easy and blasting the one chord you know will constitute you as a punk rocker. While your brand of music will be picked apart in Reddit and Facebook forums, the true difficulty of playing a guitar is not learning how to hit your frets properly, is lugging the piece of equipment around. Some guitars can weigh a little as five pounds and as much as 12, and while that doesn’t sound like much think of a guitar like beer. That 5% alcohol sure sounds weak until you blasted a six pack of them and start talking politics. You have to constantly wear your guitar, so it will obviously put stress on the lower back and your legs. This means you would have to have a rather tough core and that means squats and crunches baby! Women especially have it tough since they are typically smaller in weight and thus hauling around an eight pound piece of equipment can get taxing. Musician Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent) designed her own guitar that was especially crafted for women and shorter, lean men. She did this to help with her back issues after claiming she would take a chiropractor with her on tour. So yeah, you need to make sure you do plenty of back exercises, leg work and also stretch a ton. And this isn’t even touching on the subject of tendinitis in your hands and wrists from the actual playing. I can imagine the guys from Dragonforce probably drown a bottle of ibuprofen every day. https://youtu.be/0jgrCKhxE1sAnd by the way, Dragonforce is not aging well. Can’t believe I thought they were cool for a while. But what about the keyboard players?! Well, they get a lot of the same usage injuries in their hands but unless they are ironically using a keytar, they will not go through the same injuries.
Okay, okay…let’s say you make your voice your instrument. Now being a good singer is rather subjective, and this is not about pop music so we are not even gonna go there. Breathing and being about to project from your vocal chords has a lot to do with your fitness. If you don’t stay in shape, the power is not gonna be there. Its the same reason why so many of the old acts don’t perform very often anymore because vocals will always be a challenge. Getting in shape for singing is actually rather difficult. But let’s say you are someone like Deafheaven’s George Clarke. https://youtu.be/sC3V6DU-o9kBefore you wonder what the heck he is saying, that is basically “black metal” in a nutshell. Half the bands you have to look up the lyrics. Now doing the guttural growl he does takes a ton of work, most notably the lungs. To make those noises consistently you have to have strong cardiovascular ability. The amount of air needed could possibly make someone faint. Here is a little how to guide to do the aforementioned “Death growl.” https://www.wikihow.com/GrowlNow one thing you have to be careful of in this sort of singing is not damaging your vocal chords. Breathing and a large lung capacity are crucial, so that means a lot of cardio or possibly High Intensity Interval Training. There is no article that indicates what Clark does to keep his cardio up, but judging by his lean physique, he probably cycles and runs. There is a risk of usage injuries to your voice of course, but there is actually quite a bit of science that backs up this process and how to protect your voice. http://www.metalsucks.net/2017/05/24/science-explains-how-metal-singers-are-able-to-scream-without-damaging-their-vocal-cords/. It mostly comes from training yourself to finish what ever you are singing rather than cutting off the air flow abruptly. Doing the first method will apparently save you a lot of sore throat agony down the line.
So this sums it up folks. There are dangers of being a legitimate metal band and it is not all fun and games. Not to mention you will run into issues with sleep and general body comfort when on the road. So when you see a band, buy their march and enjoy the show.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. The author of this blog is an independent writer and is not an associate of Parsons Training, LLC. Any information or images displayed are done so solely at the authors discretion. Any dietary or fitness commentary is exclusively that of the author and in no way dictated by the company.