I have an innate respect for people who look like they take good care of their bodies. Life is such a gift and it seems to me that taking the opportunity to maintain good health and fitness is one major way to express your lust for life.
At the Austin City Limits Music Festival, we witness unbelievable musical talent from all around the globe. Talk about humbling! These musicians blow my mind. But as a fitness professional, there are times when I wonder how well they are taking care of themselves. The rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle does not necessarily lend itself to the healthiest of habits, after all. But as our rock stars age, we are seeing many of them do a complete 180 with regard to their diet and exercise choices.
With ACL fest taking place, I was inspired to write about something that bubbles up every time I see an amazing artistic talent who is not showcasing his healthiest physique, or whose pallor represents less than robust health. And so, I present boot camp for musicians! In this particular training session, we’ll work on some of the basics that will keep musicians healthier longer, so they can keep making that sweet music for years to come.
First, the basics we should all live by: get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet featuring fresh foods and commit to a fluid intake that predominately includes water, green teas or nutritious, fresh-squeezed juices and that saves alcohol for more occasional use.
Other rules of musicians’ boot camp follow. Firstly, it does not start at the crack of dawn. Considering most musicians hit the stage so late in the evening, I imagine a professional performing musician is not getting to bed before about 2 a.m. So maybe musicians’ boot camp needs to start at noon. Very well, at noon, my musician friends would show up ready to rock! We’d start with jump ropes because jumping rope is amusing and a good way to get your heart rate up. Then, we’d do some instrument-specific stretching. It seems like most instrument playing involves moving forward and down a bit, so we would do some standing baby backbends and some assisted chest stretches. Then on to another round of jump rope and some medicine ball core work. Following this, perhaps we’d include a few multi-joint exercises that work the entire muscular system such as body-weight squats, walking lunges or twisting medicine ball v-sits.
Now for the exciting part: strength exercises that help musicians look good on stage. I am not talking Anthony Kiedis here, just some exercises that highlight basic muscle tone. Toned lats can look sexy on stage, particularly since they provide that nice v-taper to the body. So, we’d throw in some pull-ups supersets with some light-weight reverse flies that focus on form, and do three sets of each.
Next, it’s on to triceps. I’d have my musician friends perform some dips, then rope press-downs, then over- head rope presses followed by close-grip bench presses. Then we’d tackle the whole thing again. After two rounds, we’d add in some kickbacks with light weights, high reps and a focus on form and the burn. Then we’d move on to biceps, those chunky muscles that often bulge mightily during guitar solos. We’d start with a superset of hammer curls and do eight to 10 reps with a heavier weight, then drop the weight and raise the reps to 12 to 15. For the last set, we’d increase the reps to 15 to 20.
Since many musicians tend to showcase their arms while performing, focusing on arms in your workouts gives you the most bang for the buck, aesthetically speaking. But of course, in my ideal musicians’ boot-camp world, working out would be about more than just the aesthetic, so we would progress from here to some more advanced full-body core and leg work. We’d finish out with some basic core exercises like planks, lower back extensions, bicycles and leg lowers because having a strong core gives everyone so much more stamina in the long run.
Thanks for humoring my musicians’ boot-camp dream scenario. And when you’re taking in all that the ACL Music Festival has to offer, remember that by making just a few fundamental changes, even those immersed in the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle can be as fit as a fiddle.
Stay healthy, take good care of yourself and rock on, Austin!