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Physical exercises to build stamina
#2916797 11/26/19 08:24 PM
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Hi all,

Am just wondering (I might sound stupid but here goes) (after a conversation with a friend who's been extolling the benefits of weight lifting), are there any targeted physical exercises designed to improve one's stamina when playing the piano?

Yes we should practice more, but besides that, and perhaps besides long-distance running, does say weight lifting help...? I'm guessing it'll help only to a minor extent (I'm sure the best pianists don't weight lift) (I might be wrong) but am just throwing the question out there. I used to play basketball when I was young and was told that it is bad for people who play the piano because of how we have to lock our wrists and palms at times when dribbling (not sure how true that is), so I kinda stopped playing the piano for more than a decade before picking it up again as an adult. So yes that leads me to my next question: are there physical exercises we should avoid?

Well my brother with decent biceps plays his chords with much more gusto haha. And his playing looks almost effortless. I on the other hand find myself struggling to sustain the intensity of each note when playing long stretches of broken octaves and arpeggios (I know I know, practice!!). And just two days ago I tried to play through the entire pathetique sonata for the first time (I've been working on bits and pieces of it), but before I could bring myself to start I found myself exhausted, both physically and emotionally.

His secret formula might be his workouts and protein shakes but I'm not about to invest in dumbbells and kettlebells if I'm not sure I'll use them.

Also I work full time, up to 55h a week sometimes, so any practical advice that doesn't involve me quitting my job and that'll help in stamina building will be much appreciated! Thank you.

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Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Athdara #2916806 11/26/19 08:44 PM
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Training at playing the piano is no different to training for an endurance or power sport. smirk

Targeted at efficient movements, avoidance of unnecessary tension, and don't overtrain. You don't want injuries. And you want to make sure your technique is sound.

And no need for protein shakes (if you want protein, eat eggs and fish - they're far cheaper and better for you, according to my nutritionist, i.e. myself cool).

How does a slim woman with no Popeye biceps like Hélène Grimaud manage to play Brahms 2? Simple - lots of efficient practice over years. Her stamina wasn't built in a day (and her power wasn't built on protein shakes). She keeps wolves, but she doesn't wrestle with them to build muscle...... wink

Instead, she hones her technical skills so that her movements are as efficient as possible:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6_lbrlehsg


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Athdara #2916808 11/26/19 09:02 PM
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I have heard that some pianists use these to build finger strength and dexterity, but haven’t used them myself and don’t know if they work.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baoding_balls


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Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Athdara #2916812 11/26/19 09:21 PM
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I use my arms when I play. I'm an arm player. So for me upper body strength is a nice thing to have and I train 5 days a week to maintain muscle tone up there.

But is strength necessary? No not really, it helps me feel better but the piano doesn't care. Pianos respond to acceleration and agility not strength. Arm weight is a specific technique for timing & touch. If you can lift your arm, you're strong enough.

Endurance comes from one thing only: practicing for more hours per day and being relaxed while you do it. Nothing will sap your power like tension does. Tension is the piano killer. So while you want to feel the burn at the gym don't ever feel burning or soreness when practicing. That road is a dead end.


Just do it. -- Nike
Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Athdara #2916815 11/26/19 09:30 PM
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Everything is better with a little physical fitness.

I also spend way more time than is optimal at work and I feel way better when I can carve out a little time for exercise.


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Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
malkin #2916827 11/26/19 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
Everything is better with a little physical fitness.

I also spend way more time than is optimal at work and I feel way better when I can carve out a little time for exercise.


+1

AND … if you do nothing else ….. go for long walks. If you do that 3 or more times each week, you probably will notice your stamina improving.


Don

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Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Athdara #2916867 11/27/19 04:28 AM
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avoid long distance cycling in the heat, it makes you so.....so .......sleepy, and not in the mood to practice


Following Trying to follow the Ling Ling 40 hour method

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Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
earlofmar #2916895 11/27/19 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by earlofmar
avoid long distance cycling in the heat, it makes you so.....so .......sleepy, and not in the mood to practice

Poor you all in Australia! Here in Sweden we have a lovely damp and extremely dark November. Only 28 hours of sun so far this month.

But back on topic. Any endurance training is good for stamina, but yes, take care of your hands and wrists. Running and bicycling. Power training gives you a bit more muscles but doesn't do much for stamina.
Maybe you can bicycle to work? Or buy a crosstrainer? With a crosstrainer, you can workout and watch TV at the same time...


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Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Athdara #2916941 11/27/19 09:46 AM
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Training of intrinsic hand muscles is good for a pianist, but I know no one who trained them with resistence exercises, although devices for such training do exist.

https://t-b.ru.com/catalog/product/570320812409/#.Xd6Ju-gzY2w

Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Athdara #2916943 11/27/19 09:52 AM
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The only thing strength and weight training did for me was make it easier to open the piano lid with one hand 😁. But I do exercise every day so I don’t have a heart attack or stroke at the keyboard. You’re gonna hate this but I practice scales and chord cadences to build finger strength and speed.


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Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Athdara #2917023 11/27/19 01:21 PM
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I think that general, overall, moderate, regular exercise is all that is needed to keep one in shape to play the piano.

Regards,


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Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Fidel #2917029 11/27/19 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Fidel
Tension is the piano killer.


+1

In the last couple of months I've worked on 2 pieces where my teacher noted that I was running out of steam on the last page. I am fairly fit - in both cases tension was to blame. For one piece I just wasn't using the right technique in the LH...holding it like a claw trying to reach notes in a repeated pattern when I should have been using wrist circles. For the other, it was just a bit out of reach for my current skill level, at least at the tempo I was attempting. I was tensing up at many trouble spots and for large chords.


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Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Athdara #2917040 11/27/19 01:52 PM
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For me, I like Pilates for a strong core that helps with my posture when sitting for hours at a time.

For a strong heart, I have a high intensity routine, i.e. 2 minutes recovery doing (combo of core, push-ups & stretches) after a burst of 20 seconds of calisthenics. With a warm-up, this activity takes less than 20 minutes.

This works out great especially when travelling. With a pair of comfortable athletic shoes & apparel, I'm huffing & puffin by the end of the session.

Good luck!


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Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Athdara #2917044 11/27/19 02:00 PM
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Running makes my body work better. My resting heart rate is 48. I mostly run easy but I run almost every day. I also do indoor rowing, which is a non impact sport, and one that hits 85% of one’s muscles.

Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
BruceD #2917112 11/27/19 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
I think that general, overall, moderate, regular exercise is all that is needed to keep one in shape to play the piano.

Regards,


I think that is true., Even technically demanding music doesn’t require the exclusively brute force ability of athletics. However, it is far more draining on nervous and mental energy, so food and rest are just as important.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
bennevis #2917181 11/27/19 09:38 PM
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Thank you for the advice and link, and yes I'm not that keen on protein shakes!

Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
WeakLeftHand #2917182 11/27/19 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I have heard that some pianists use these to build finger strength and dexterity, but haven’t used them myself and don’t know if they work.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baoding_balls


Oh that is interesting. I think I've one lying around somewhere... but I suppose one wouldn't do the trick. Thanks!

Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
LadyAcadia #2917183 11/27/19 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by j&j
The only thing strength and weight training did for me was make it easier to open the piano lid with one hand 😁. But I do exercise every day so I don’t have a heart attack or stroke at the keyboard. You’re gonna hate this but I practice scales and chord cadences to build finger strength and speed.

Originally Posted by LadyAcadia
For me, I like Pilates for a strong core that helps with my posture when sitting for hours at a time.

For a strong heart, I have a high intensity routine, i.e. 2 minutes recovery doing (combo of core, push-ups & stretches) after a burst of 20 seconds of calisthenics. With a warm-up, this activity takes less than 20 minutes.

This works out great especially when travelling. With a pair of comfortable athletic shoes & apparel, I'm huffing & puffin by the end of the session.

Good luck!


Pilates for posture! Yes that's something I should try. Thank you.

Re: Physical exercises to build stamina
Athdara #2917688 11/29/19 11:46 AM
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Plain old walking 5 miles per day helps me.



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