by Cari Cole
Yes and no. It depends on your before and after regimen, plus a little bit of maintenance and you’re good to go.
Weight lifting is good for your body. It makes you stronger and makes you look more fit (no argument with that!). But does a stronger body make a stronger voice? Basically, yes.
However, weight lifting without following my prescription below, could cause some harm to your singing or speaking voice.
Weight lifting contracts muscles making them shorter and tighter. That might look good, but the problem for singers is that tighter muscles in the neck, shoulders, pecs and abdomen can cause vocal problems.
Tight neck muscles put pressure on the laryngeal muscles making it harder for them to function freely. The added pressure causes strain at the vocal muscles. Tight shoulders and pecs pull the shoulders forward compromising the extra support that proper alignment gives. The result is a weak, unsupported or raspy voice or a voice that wears out pretty fast.
The muscles to target during your workout that help the voice sound better are:
1. Strong Pectorals Muscles
Strong pectorals help support your voice by helping to anchor the larynx. The pectorals are the first muscles the larynx anchors to against the upward motion of air pressure while you sing. A supported larynx cracks and breaks easier and it’s harder to stay in chest register without strong pectorals. But remember you want strong, but long pectorals. Start with 10 pushups on the floor and then 10 pushups into the corner of a room (a couple of feet away from the corner, do a pushup into the corner). You’ll notice you are lengthening the pectorals past where you can with floor pushups. These wall pushups are one of the first exercises we use in vocal rehabilitation to build a stronger voice.
2. Strong Abdominals
You’ll need to have a strong abdomen to have a strong voice. Abdominals are engaged when you sing correctly (but most people don’t use them right. That’s a whole ‘nother blog.) But just like your pectorals and neck muscles not being too contracted, strong and long abdominals is what you need for your singing voice. You want to strengthen your abs, but not with typical crunches which can cause vocal problems. You want to strengthen AND lengthen them at the same time and pilates roll ups do exactly that. 10-15 rollups per day!
Follow this quick prescription for How to Lift Weights Without Hurting Your Voice.
In this article I’ll focus on what to do before and after you lift, which is critical to keep your muscles long and conditioned with weight training.
1. The night before you lift: Take a bath with epsom salts (or dead sea salts.) Sink your neck down into the hot water. Go to bed directly after. You will wake up with more relaxed muscles.
2. Right before your weight lifting session do 5-10 minutes of stretching (down dog, forward bend) and use Styrofoam rollers on your legs and back to loosen up your ligaments and muscles before you work out.
3. Post workout: Stretch the muscles you used in your work out for 5-10 minutes. This releases the tension you just acquired and helps keeps your muscles from being so sore too.
4. The night following your workout: Take another hot bath. Repeat above bath instructions (#1).
5. Get a professional massage once a month (minimum) and have the therapist focus on your neck muscles. This way you are not accumulating tension from your workouts.
6. Do Yoga and Pilates to balance out your weight lifting. Yoga and Pilates also exercises that you can do right in your hotel room during a tour to help keep your voice in killer shape. Keep in mind that longer (and stronger) muscles keep your body freer of tension and help you avoid injury. Downdog anyone?
Share your feedback in the comments below!