Is weightlifting bad for singing? Only if you're not doing these things....

vocal health tips Jul 30, 2018

Is weightlifting bad for singing?  Depends how you're doing it.  In the video above, I share some tips that you can implement so that your weightlifting doesn't negatively affect your singing voice.

The common belief is that weightlifting will stiffen you up and create tensions in your body that will negatively affect your singing.  Can this really happen?  Yes.  But there is also a way of lifting weights where you can avoid this problem.

There is a lot of dogma and "black and white thinking" in the singing community.  Statements like "weightlifting is bad for your voice!" or "milk is bad for your voice!" etc. are way too simplistic to be truthful.  We have to go deeper.

Yes weightlifting CAN have a negative affect on your singing.  If you are not careful of HOW you lift weights, you can develop tension patterns particularly in the jaw and throat which can encourage you to that same kind of constriction when you go to sing.  If you get jaw and throat constriction while singing then you're gonna find your voice doesn't work as freely as usual (trouble with high notes, a squeezed/pinched tone and less vocal stamina).

But weightlifting CAN have a POSITIVE affect on your singing.  The benefits of weightlifting is that it can teach you good body connection - the feeling that you're grounded and singing with your body rather than from your throat.  This can help you get a handle on support ("singing from the diaphgram" or "open throat technique") which can help you sing with more freedom in the throat.  Singing with more freedom means better tone, easier high notes, more vocal stamina and better consistency. 

The other positive is that it can help get your voice warmed up quicker especially if you have to sing in the morning, because it STIMULATES your nervous system.  The chest voice needs that kind of stimulation in order to make it connect easier.  If you feel like your voice is lazy and unresponsize this can be a game changer!!

Here are some of the things you should look out for when doing weightlifting or physical exercise:

  • Don't "brace" from the throat or create large amounts of pressure in the throat (locking the throat).  Try doing a pushup and see if you can speak without your voice changing/getting locked up as you do pushups.  This may not apply to all exercises - but try your best.
  • Don't clench at the jaw, teeth or throat to brace for a lift.  Keep the teeth separated and jaw loose.  Use the TONGUE to brace.  Experiment with the tongue on the roof of the mouth and let the force that would have gone through your jaw go through your tongue into the roof of the mouth.  You can experiment with the tongue down too, but keep the jaw loose and teeth apart.  See what feels best for you.
  • Keep your face relaxed and show no sign of strain on the face.  Only work at the pace of your breath.  If your breathing gets out of control and out of breath then you've gone too far.  Get good at pacing everything to your breath.  This also helps to avoid overtraining and overbreathing.
  • Make your breathing silent and invisible.  Try not to gasp in air.  Also try experimenting with reversing the breath.  Try doing pushups where you exhale on the way up, and then try doing pushups where you INHALE on the way up.  Get used to both ways - This may not apply to EVERY exercise, but I have successfully tried this on "the big 3" (deadlifts, squats, benchpress)

Hope you find all of this helpful.  I'm still experimenting with all of these things but for now I'm finding weightlifting has no negative affects on my singing and only positives.

Let me know what you'd like to see next and I'll make a post about it.

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