band geeks

Band Geeks Need Strength Too!!

This past weekend I went to watch my brother, a tuba player in the Marching Virginians at Virginia Tech, play in the halftime show at football games (let's be honest, anyone who has met me quickly realizes that the band is the ONLY reason I go to football games. Blasphemous Hokie am I!) And if you're unfamiliar with the MVs and how AWESOME the tuba line is, here's a little sample:

(My brother is the one on the end closest to the camera.) Aren't they awesome? That's my bro-pod! Anyway, being the geek that I am (both a Band Geek and a Strength Geek...yup, I was in band all through high school and a bit in college!) as I watched the MVs perform I started thinking that they could really use some strength training. Not just the tuba's either! The WHOLE band would benefit from lifting heavy things that don't make music!

The MAIN point of this post (besides offering this piece of advice to my fellow band geeks: LIFT WEIGHTS!!) is that EVERYONE needs to be stronger no matter if you're an "athlete" or not. Read that again: EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE STRONGER!

Ahem, excuse me, I got a little carried away. Moving on, here are some exercises that I thought of while watching the MVs perform (and thinking back to my own marching days):

KB Swings:

Admit it, you knew I was going to say this. But seriously, this would be perfect for the tuba players doing the hokie pokie and sticking their heads in and out and shaking it all about. Check out the hip hinge (or rather, lack of) that tuba players need from the video above. Wouldn't a strong posterior chain make that easier? (especially on the 5th rendition of the Hokie Pokey)...

And then the swing:

Not only would this help make lugging the 25-45 pound tuba (technically sousaphone) up and down easier, it would prevent lower back injuries for over-enthusiastic hokie pokie-ing. Besides, swings improve cardiovascular fitness and who needs to be able to produce a lot of air without passing out more than a tuba player? (and the floutist. Fun fact: tuba players and flute players pass out more often from lack of air than any other instruments.) Every band member should swing; it'll improve their ability to make through the loooong Game Day of pre-game practice, marching and playing throughout the game. ANNND (one more thing) swings improve upper back strength and band members have to stand up straight throughout their performance, hence the need for a strong upper back.


Speaking of strong upper backs, let's take a look at what the drum line has sitting on their chests:

I used to play drums and I can tell you, those instruments are NOT light! Rows, chins and pullups would be ideal to strengthen those muscles. By doing so, it will take the strain off the lower back because the upper back will be able to support the weight much more easily. (Cymbal players, I'm looking at you too! Those suckers are heavy, row/chins will also improve bicep strength which is needed in holding/clashing cymbals repeatedly.) Which leads me to my next exercise...

Planks/Anti-rotation presses/Anterior Core:

In junction with a strong upper back, a strong anterior (front side) core is CRUCIAL to preventing lower back injuries or aches while standing for long periods of time. This post highlights some exercises. I really like the landmine as there's a lot of dancing around in the bandstand so being able to resist rotation of the spine during wild cheering would be awesome!

And more anti-rotation:

Having a strong core is very, very (VERY! I'm not kidding!) important to band members who want to have a pain-free marching season.

Farmer Carrys:

This one should be obvious. Practice walking around with heavy things. Here's a post I wrote a while back about. Band geeks, read it!

And last but not least:

KB or Band-Resisted Dorsiflexion:

My high school band director used to say (or rather, shout): "I want to see 'HI MOM' written on the bottom of your shoes!!' meaning we had to march with our toes straight up to the sky (it looks nice...). Therefore, band geeks need super strong tibialis anteriors!

There are many more exercises I could list off (Pretty much everything in here) but I'll cut it here as I know band practice takes ALL of one's free time. However, I would encourage band geeks to squeeze in at least 30 minutes to improve there strength levels. And if a band geek can fit in time to get strong, then anyone can!