Bruce Spingsteen, Pink, Madonna, Dave Grohl, Lady Gaga, Kid Rock…. even Ozzy!
They’re all Rock Stars. FIT Rock Stars.
The Rock Stars of today have one major difference from the stars of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Today, they all work out. You simply can’t do what the Boss does at 60 without some prep. And you can’t perform a full show that includes acrobatics and dance, like Pink, without first training your body. Even someone like Ozzy Osbourne who was the ULTIMATE bad boy back in the 1970’s with Black Sabbath prepares for the rigours of the road with a personal trainer and a workout routine before embarking on a world tour in 2013.
How exactly does a Rock Star train and prepare for endless months of nightly performances? Is it anything different from what an “average” person would do?
The answers is yes… and no.
While there are some special considerations taken into account to get Dave Grohl ready to attack his guitars and drums every night, while looking great for the photo shoots and interviews during the day… in the end Rock Stars are just human beings. What works for Madonna on stage, will also work for Madge in accounting!
A training program for a professional, performing Rock Star includes 3 main elements.
Just like athletes and their sports, musicians and singers have physical demands specific to what they do. Playing guitar (or drums or keyboards) night after night is hard! Players have to build up the muscles of the back, the shoulders, the arms and the core to be able to move to meet the demands of playing.
Other aspects of training for “performance” include building muscular and aerobic endurance and increasing flexibilty and dexterity. A proper workout regimen to prepare someone to perform at the top level should include a “progressive” schedule that changes it’s focus leading up to important events, like leaving for a World Tour. As the date gets nearer, the training should more closely mimic the activity that you are preparing for. In other words, you would first “set the table” by building lean muscle and working to increase conditioning levels before working on more specific performance related demands.
Many young players spend countless hours playing with no thought to proper body alignment or posture. This invariably results in overuse (or repetitive) strain injuries. Carpal tunnel syndrome, head forward syndrome, sciatica etc…
A Rocker’s training program should emphasize great posture and proper alignment. Eric Clapton is an example of a guitarist that displays perfect posture and real ease of playing.
If you sit at a desk all day long, it’s like being bent over a piano… so this also applies to you in everyday life!
A great technique is to use the “warm up” or “cool down” part of each training session to perform core or posture related exercises using stability balls, resistance bands or medicine balls. This part should become like brushing teeth to a musician. It should happen every day and it becomes part of their “postural hygiene”.
A Rock Star HAS to look good. It’s part of the job. Especially in today’s world. Image is important and people expect their rockers to look amazing.
Looking amazing for performing artists means two things. Lean muscle and low bodyfat.
During the build up to the “performance” training, a Rock Star’s program should have them focused on building muscle and learning how to eat to enhance metabolism. This means heavy, basic bodybuilding moves and frequent meals that are high in lean protein with complex carbohydrates (primarily vegetables along with some whole grains, potatoes or other slow release starches).
As the performance or event gets closer, the training program should shift to higher intensity activities that emphasize full body “functional” movements to develop endurance and burn fat. Manipulating carbohydrates, by minimizing starchy carb intake, will also help an artist burn body fat at an increased rate.
The progression from heavy muscle building to high intensity “burn” training along with carb manipulation is similar to what a body builder would go through to prepare for a show.
Here is a sample of a Rock Star Training program in the “build up” or muscle building phase. Follow up each lifting session with 20 minutes of cardio training that includes 3- 5 high speed “bursts” of 20 – 30 seconds.
Perform this routine 3 times per week with one extra day of “cardio only” up to 45 minutes, steady with no bursts. …after 4 weeks, shift focus to “endurance” training, featuring higher reps and a larger variety of exercises.
Medicine Ball Chopping Movements 3 x 10- 20 of each with a 10lb medicine ball.
Bench Press 3 x 6- 10 repetitions (superset with “air” squats x 20)
Barbell Squats 3 x 6- 10 reps (superset with Exercise Band Rows x 20)
Lat Pulldowns 3 x 6- 10 reps (superset with Exercise Band Rotations x 20 per side)
Overhead Barbell Presses 3 x 6- 10 reps
Barbell Curls 3 x 6- 10 reps
Triceps Pressdowns 3 x 6- 10 reps
Straight Leg Deadlifts 3 x 10- 15 reps