3 Easy Strategies for Gigging Musicians to Building Functional Fitness

Let’s face it, an often forgotten element of musicianship is the physical act of performing…


Don’t let health issues get in the way of your musical career or ruin your ability to perform. Below are specific strategies gigging musicians can use to make their lives much easier, and healthier, in the long run.


Types of Training


All performers should be engaging in the following types of exercise: aerobic, anaerobic and functional fitness. If not, they are leaving themselves and their career at serious risk…


1) Aerobic exercises strengthen the lungs, heart and improve the body’s utilization of oxygen. This training keeps performers from getting winded and lowers blood pressure and the overall heart rate. Don’t worry, you don’t have to train to run a marathon to get the benefits of aerobic training. The brief workout listed below will set you up for success in this area.


2) Anaerobic exercises promote strength and power during physical activities. By strength and power I don’t mean freakish biceps and massive thighs – unless that’s what you’re into… I simply mean being able to carry heavy equipment without injury, jump off drum risers and land without pulling a hammy, protect yourself from overzealous audience members, etc…. Again, this doesn’t require an Olympic training regimen. Just a few basic exercises will enable you to build a solid foundation.


3) Last, but not least, functional fitness involves training your muscles to work together while performing common movements you might do in real life (that means while gigging for us musicians). These exercise sessions usually involve the movement of the entire body with an emphasis on the core muscles of the midsection.


Designing a Workout


Keep a few things in mind when designing your aerobic, anaerobic and functional fitness workout.

  • Space constraints: since you may not always be able to use a gym or may need to workout in the close confines of a bus, design your workout accordingly.
  • Time requirements: depending on your specific schedule you may or may not be able to dedicate a large amount of time to work out. That’s OK. A time-efficient, effective work is listed below.
  • Keep the endgame in mind: If you’re a high-energy performer who does a lot of physically demanding moves on stage, be sure to simulate those moves in your workout. It might be jumping of things, pulling yourself up onto the stage or developing grip strength to swing from the lighting rig… I’ve seen stranger things:-)
  • Work out with your instrument if possible: sounds crazy, right? functional fitness is about simulating actual situations. Whether that’s a guitar, mic stand, cowbell, etc. spend some time moving around with your instrument like you would on stage. Think shadow boxing for musicians…


Example Workout

(Quick disclaimer… This article is for informational purposes only. Consult a physician before performing this or any exercise program)


This workout is designed to hit all the areas discussed in this article. Modify as needed to match your fitness level and functional needs… Also, if you’re not sure what an exercise is or how to perform it a quick internet search should help you find details.


  • Burpees – 20 reps
  • Pushups – 10 reps
  • Bodyweight squats – 10 reps
  • Repeat cycle 3 times with no rest between exercises or cycles


As you can see this is a fairly straight forward regimen. However, by the time you’ve entered into the 2nd and 3rd cycles (with little or no rest as instructed) your heart rate will be up, you’ll be sweating and your muscles will be crying for mercy! This workout performed 3 – 5 times per week will solidify your longevity as a healthy musician. If you already workout try adding this regimen at the end of your training sessions as a finisher. It’s BRUTAL… in a good way!!


Take away


Use common sense when designing your workouts and always find ways to give yourself the edge. Staying fit and healthy helps you add value to any musical situation and solidifies your professional demeanor.


Until next time stay focused, stay consistent, and expect the best from yourself.  🙂


About the author: Ty Morgan is a professional guitarist in the Phoenix, Arizona area. If you are looking for rock/blues guitar lessons in Mesa, AZ be sure to contact Ty!