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Weight lifting for pianists #1731051
08/11/11 12:58 PM
08/11/11 12:58 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
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CleverName Offline OP
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Hey guys,

I've recently decided I want to get in better shape, for a variety of reasons. Cardio is great, and I'm running or swimming daily. However, I'm aware that cardio alone is not really a full workout-you have to do *some* strength training, too.

Thing is, as a professional pianist, I'm worried about damaging the small muscles in my hands from gripping heavy dumbbells or free weights on a regular basis. Is this a valid concern, or is it not really something that could happen? If it is a valid concern, what do you guys suggest someone like me do for strength training?

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Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731052
08/11/11 01:01 PM
08/11/11 01:01 PM
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New York
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Originally Posted by CleverName
....I'm worried about damaging the small muscles in my hands from gripping heavy dumbbells or free weights on a regular basis. Is this a valid concern....

I sure think so. For me it would be. Even just batting in baseball is a possible issue for that.

Quote
.....If it is a valid concern, what do you guys suggest someone like me do for strength training?

Anything where you could go gentler on the hands, if there be any such. smile
I'm not sure there is, other than the swimming which you're already doing.

If there isn't, then you do what you feel you need to do, but realize you might be sacrificing some piano stuff.

BTW, sounds like you're doing great with the conditioning, at least by any usual standards....

Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731054
08/11/11 01:05 PM
08/11/11 01:05 PM
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Steve712 Offline
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I used to work out, lifting weights, running and the like. One of my school's phys. ed. teachers happens to be a personal trainer for Olympian athletes, and she suggests only doing four full work-outs maximum per week (though cardio can be daily), alternating days so you only do strength training every second day to allow your muscles to regenerate properly. If you do that, you shouldn't have a problem unless you go playing a Prokofiev concerto after working out.

Last edited by Steve712; 08/11/11 01:06 PM.
Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731070
08/11/11 01:30 PM
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I don't work out but I try to stay in shape by running, hiking, swimming, skiing, etc... It provides a nice balance with playing piano and schoolwork.

Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731090
08/11/11 01:53 PM
08/11/11 01:53 PM
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I have lifted weights ever since a teenager... so over 30 years? I do cardio as well. So, no problem if you want to do some weight training. Just make sure your grip is correct, not too tight, and always protective gloves especially the one with wrist wrap as it helps to protect your wrists. (Btw, how heavy are you thinking??) Lastly, always lift with a clear mind and with caution. Have fun!


JN
Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731097
08/11/11 02:04 PM
08/11/11 02:04 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
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Iowa City, IA
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I haven't had any trouble with light strength training. Just make sure your form is solid. Just like piano practice, any fitness regimen is made more effective by good form and can be rendered harmful by bad form.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731104
08/11/11 02:14 PM
08/11/11 02:14 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
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What about resistance bands or just working light weights isometrically (tightening the muscle you want to workout as much as you can through the whole rep). You'll get a great workout but not risk damage from heavy weights. Be sure to focus just on the muscle you're trying to work out so you're not accidentally overdoing your grip.


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Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731116
08/11/11 02:27 PM
08/11/11 02:27 PM
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Chapel Hill, NC
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I weight train regularly. Never had a problem. Although I like freeweights better because they engage smaller muscle groups for control and balance, machines are probably safer. I am certain that being physically fit can have many benefits to the pianist from better posture, muscle tone, reflexes, stress reduction, even better sleep that will help with a clear mind.


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Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731128
08/11/11 02:42 PM
08/11/11 02:42 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,670
Victoria, BC
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I have used both cardiovascular and weight training for decades, now and I concur with some of the previous comments :
- it is not necessary to lift heavy weights to get a good workout; training with lighter weights can be just as effective as with heavy weights - unless you are in bodybuilding competitions - by doing reps very, very slowly so that the resistance to the weights lasts longer
- good form is essential to avoiding injury
- weight-lifting gloves with wristbands are helpful - but not idiot-proof - in avoiding possible wrist injuries
- weight training machines can provide less risk from injury than free weights, although I like and use both
- avoid high-impact activities

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731129
08/11/11 02:42 PM
08/11/11 02:42 PM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 122
USA
Musicfan1979 Offline
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I agree with Kreisler's earlier post.
Be careful about form and also weights that may be too heavy. I was afraid I was developing a slight hunch on my back and found a trainer that incorporated Feldenkrais method, stretching, and Yoga. I found stretching exercises and Yoga to be very beneficial and gained quite a bit of muscle tone and strength. Good luck.

Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731156
08/11/11 03:20 PM
08/11/11 03:20 PM
Joined: May 2001
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New York City
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I don't have to do any weight training. All I do is open and close the lid on my Mason BB once a day and have developed 18" biceps.
Adding them together

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/11/11 03:21 PM.
Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: Musicfan1979] #1731194
08/11/11 04:18 PM
08/11/11 04:18 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 214
England
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thalbergmad Offline
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I have read much on this in other forums and the general consensus seems to be to keep things light, although I remember some chap argued very well to avoid weights completely.

Now that my knackered body will no longer take the punishment it used to in the gym and I want to maximise my piano potential, I have developed a few personal rules:

1. No powerlifting
2. No sets under 8 reps.
3. No super sets.
4. No pinch gripping.
5. No reverse bicep curls.
6. No getting involved in stupid armwrestling challenges.

Thal


I'm inclined to agree with Thal
Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731195
08/11/11 04:21 PM
08/11/11 04:21 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,389
Vught, The Netherlands
Dave Horne Offline
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I went to college with Leon Bates, a concert pianist, who is a body builder. It didn't seem to hurt him at all.

I think common sense should prevail.


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Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731201
08/11/11 04:27 PM
08/11/11 04:27 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 6,452
Land of the never-ending music
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I like to go for a walk in nature. Otherwise - no sports at all.



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Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731212
08/11/11 04:41 PM
08/11/11 04:41 PM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,286
chicago, il
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just back from a trip to france where i cycled up (and down) the famous alpe d'huez & mont ventoux (among other cols). personally, rigorous exercise compliments the study of music perfectly, and it doesn't matter what form of exercise it is, so long as you approach it consciously.

Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731259
08/11/11 06:05 PM
08/11/11 06:05 PM
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Posts: 368
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used to weight lift and run every day until i turned 28. Now stress coffee and lack of sleep keeps me slim. I have been healthier. I eat well , don't really drink but I feel just slimy. I went 3 days without showering the other day. 19 hours of composition, about 7 coffees. I do moisturize my face and body and drink lots of water and eat lots of fruits.

When i was orchestrating, I was on adderral up for 3 days barely meeting the deadline. Now that was just disgusting. Felt like a zombie.

Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: BadOrange] #1731285
08/11/11 06:51 PM
08/11/11 06:51 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,670
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted by BadOrange
[...]I went 3 days without showering the other day. [...]


Now there's a real time-bending trick if you can do it!

Cheers!


BruceD
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Estonia 190
Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: BruceD] #1731332
08/11/11 08:05 PM
08/11/11 08:05 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 6,814
Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by BadOrange
[...]I went 3 days without showering the other day. [...]


Now there's a real time-bending trick if you can do it!

Cheers!


You are too good, Bruce! smile

Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731360
08/11/11 08:30 PM
08/11/11 08:30 PM
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Skorpius Offline
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My teacher has told me that weight training is excellent for developing good posture and giving more back mass for more round, heavy sounds


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Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: BruceD] #1731375
08/11/11 09:09 PM
08/11/11 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by BadOrange
[...]I went 3 days without showering the other day. [...]


Now there's a real time-bending trick if you can do it!

Cheers!


Maybe he meant on Jupiter (where one day is 9.84 Earth hours), so actually almost three days. wink



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Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731377
08/11/11 09:10 PM
08/11/11 09:10 PM
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Toronto, Ontario
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I started bodybuilding as a teenager and used to be in the gym at least 5 days a week.
I now only go about 3 times a week but still lift weights while I am there.
I've never encountered any problem whatsoever with it affecting my hands when it comes to piano and in fact think the increased forearm and finger strength could be nothing but a benefit.


Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731384
08/11/11 09:27 PM
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I love lifting weights! I haven't weight lifted recently, but I think I'll start back when school starts. I have never noticed any problems with piano playing because of weight lifting.

Re: Weight lifting for pianists [Re: CleverName] #1731523
08/12/11 04:47 AM
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I've been lifting heavy weights for some 15 years (not to improve my piano playing, but to increase my strength in order to carry heavy backpacks up mountains). To gain strength, you have to lift heavy weights with few reps, which is what I do (I'm interested in building strength, not 'toning up'). I'm always careful, and have never had any injury from it - in fact I've noticed that my ability to maintain a good posture during long practice sessions has improved as I developed strong core muscles.

If you just want to tone up, you do lots of reps with light weights - you won't develop strong muscles this way, but frankly, you don't need bulging muscles for playing piano. Saying that however, the most powerful pianists in history have looked like Russian bears (Lazar Berman, Grigory Sokolov, Andrei Gavrilov....) grin.


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