The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Real Danger of Fitness and Singing

There is so much hype and scare tactics to rationalize being a lazy opera singer that allows for YOLO dieting. However, there are real concerns with fitness and singing. Things that can literally jeopardize your career. But fret not! I will show you how you can still workout like a beast and avoid these career ending traps.

1.) Injury

With lifting heavy weights comes the greater chance of injury. Hell, even lifting lighter weights can cause some of these issues. Double hell, you can get similar injuries sliding on a patch of ice on the way to your car. Injury is a risk of living.

Now, lets get this straight. You're not going to sustain any injuries from the majority of workouts you guys do. You're not gonna pull a hammy while doing the elliptical, you're not gonna tear a bicep doing 3 sets of Lat pull downs, and you're not going to break a leg doing straight leg deadlifts. A freak accident would have to occur for these things to happen, and none of it would be directly related to that movement.

What I'm talking about is lifting heavy weights. Lifting weights that are at least equal to your body weight above your face, head, chest, back and legs. It is possible to injure yourself in a way to affect the way you sing, or at least the way you look on stage.

I'm currently dealing with this right now. I pushed myself hard during a squat workout, and now I have a pulled back muscle that is making it hard to breathe in deeply and get my back support for the big singing I like to do. Could I perform a show in my current condition? Hell yeah, but it might affect the quality of my performance. I'm not sure, I have yet to practice this in the real world. But if I snapped my back in half, tore an ACL or ripped a bicep, I'd be at least missing a rehearsal or two.

Can you die from lifting weights? Yes, duh. Having 400lbs on your back and descending into a squat position is dangerous. It can literally crush your spine and kill you, or leave you paralyzed. However, that's why we have safety bars, that's why we wear belts, knee wraps and all of that equipment. To gain the most from our workouts without always having to cheat death.

How to avoid injury:

Lift smart. Do warm up sets, mobility training and practice exquisite form. Don't let your ego dictate your workout. Let your form be your guide, it's the only thing looking out for your progress and your life outside of the gym. Use every safety precaution you have available. Squat within a squat rack. Use a spotter.

Bro, can I get a spot?!

Don't just say, "well, I'll just avoid lifting weights altogether and then I won't have any risk of injury." You FOOL, you think that will save you? Poor Joyce DiDonato broke her leg whilst performing Rosin in il Barbiere di Siviglia, and she performed the rest of the run while in a wheel chair.

Happens to the best of us, y'all. Might as well look good and get the immense health benefits that come with lifting heavy weights.

2.) Incorrect Breathing whilst lifting


Breathing is important for singing and lifting, but more importantly, it's important for living. There are many people who do so much to their bodies with their fitness to obtain their physical goals, that they literally will sacrifice the way they inhale their very life force. All you have to do is listen to a big meat head talk for an extended period of time. He's immensely out of breath.

Also, if you're holding in too much breath while you are lifting, you can place a great deal of strain on your vocal cords. Depending on the strength and size of your vocal folds, this can create a great deal of strain. If Denyce Graves can hemorrhage a vocal cord with one good sneeze, then its possible to do so deadlifting a car, especially if the cords are already fatigued.



As a singer, you should already be trained how to breathe well. How to take "Deep and low" breaths that fill your gut, back and lungs. Many of the same principles that we practice regularly in singing, we utilize in lifting. If you don't, you're going to suck at both, and you can and will injure yourself breathing incorrectly during these demanding activities. Increase your cardio. Your body, heart and lungs will thank you for the extra endurance during shows and it will make your performing that much better.

I have met a few people, genetic outliers, that despite actively practicing good breathing techniques while lifting, they still find the quality of their vocal sound to be diminished, or they feel vocally fatigued much easier. For these people I would suggest to keep developing your breathing techniques, but until you can lift and sing with equal veracity, it's best to time out your workouts so that you're not doing your big lifts on days or weeks when you're required to sing demanding music.

3.) Diet

As I have mentioned before, Ol' Yeargain is definitely guilty of this. In order to get a certain physique, I will go hard on my diet, cutting my carbs to almost nothing to get the results I want quickly. The result is always more difficult singing. Less energy, less spirit and vibrancy in my work all for a few less pounds and a couple of more veins in my arms. Is it worth it? Not always, but sometimes.



Don't do this. It's really that simple. You have to be smarter about things if you want to look a certain way on stage. I could have lost the same amount of weight I did for street scene if I had started a month earlier than I did, and I would have not suffered as much, I would have had more energy during the run, and I would not have gotten sick after the show like I did. It all boils down to planning things out intelligently and not jumping on the misery bus to get the quick hard results. Although I'm a frequent passenger of the misery bus because of my immense impatience, I do not recommend it to anyone.

4.) Balance

It is possible to get so focused on your fitness that you allow yourself to slip with your technique, your musical preparation and your ability to focus while working. I struggle with this big time, especially if I'm having to miss a workout or call one early to make it to a rehearsal, I'll be thinking about it all day. Right now my passions are constantly fighting each other. I will more than likely write an extensive post about how to achieve balance in your life in the future, but right now I'm trying to figure it out myself. It's something I'm going to be struggling with for a while, but I will always keep you guys informed of when I come up with solutions, or at least theories.

I hope I have broken down some of the hype for you guys and let you feel a little bit more empowered about singing and lifting like the gods you are. Don't be afraid to lift, and don't let people who don't even go into the gym try to tell you that you're going to lose your voice because you want to be healthy.

Happy lifting, y'all.

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