Sometimes doing a purely vocal warm-up before a show or presentation just isn’t enough. What If I told you that doing physical exercise while you warm up your voice will make your warm-ups faster and more effective? In this article, I’m going to tell you about the six best physical exercises for singers. You can do these exercise combinations to warm up your voice before a show or a big presentation.
Your voice is part of your body, too!
It’s well known that people who feel good physically are happier, more productive, and more effective in their daily routines. One of the biggest complaints I get from some of my vocal students is that when they’re singing they get physically tired, and this fatigue causes them to sing harder than they normally would. This is an aspect of vocal performance that’s very often overlooked by the typical vocal coach or music teacher. Thankfully there is a way to quickly warm up your voice and at the same time get your body ready for action.
One of the things I like to do before I go on stage is push-ups because they get my heart pumping a little faster and warm up my muscles. Back in the day, I used to do my vocal warm-up before I did my pushup round. However, I later discovered that doing my push-ups while warming up my voice is an even better, more efficient way to quickly get my voice ready for action. The key is to increase the heart rate and blood flow to all of the muscles in the body, which includes the muscles that control your voice. At the same time, you’re slowly conditioning your body for greater physical activity over time.
Keep in mind that „moving your body“ doesn’t necessarily mean doing cardio or strength-based exercises; it can also mean doing some light stretching. This can be especially important for your head-neck-shoulder region since it’s an area of your body that typically experiences the most tightness when you use your voice.
So here are 6 physical exercise/vocal warm-up combinations you can do right now to quickly prepare your voice for action.
Exercise #1: Head rolls + sirens
The first exercise is a combination of forward head rolls and sirens. Notice I said FORWARD head rolls. Remember how I talked about keeping your head as neutral as possible to avoid strain in the neck? This form of vocal strain is most likely to occur when you tilt your head back, so start with your head turned to one side, it doesn’t matter which one. Start singing or speaking a low note, and as you go higher with the tone, slowly roll your head down and toward the front, with your chin pointed toward your chest. your voice should be on a higher note by the time your forehead is pointed toward the ground. as you continue to move your head to the other shoulder, slide your voice back down. This should all be one fluid motion. The best thing is to do this exercise while humming.
Exercise #2: Freestyle stretching + yawning
All you have to do here is stretch a tight muscle region and do some yawning exercises at the same time. I usually like to do shoulder stretches, chest stretches, back stretches or tricep stretches. Upper body stretches generally make more sense to perform than lower body stretches because your upper body muscles are more directly linked to what’s going on with your voice than your legs.
Exercise #3: Planks + vowel singing
Planks are probably the best physical exercise you can do to activate your core muscles, which are the muscles used in breath support. You can do half planks, where your knees are on the ground, or full planks. Either way, planking while singing is a great way to warm up your voice and strengthen your midsection at the same time.
Exercise #4: Push-ups + sirens
What I love about this combo is the quick upper body pump that I get after doing just a few push-ups. It’s also fun to coordinate the movement of your voice with the movement of your arms and chest. Now you can either do push-ups on your knees or full push-ups. Start with a low note in the beginning push-up position, and go higher with your voice the closer your face gets to the ground. As you return to the starting position, lower your voice. Again, this should be done in one fluid motion.
Exercise #5: Jump rope hops + articulation exercises
Jump rope hops are great for getting your blood flowing to the entire body, kind of a mini cardio exercise. It makes sense when you consider that 10 minutes of skipping rope equals 30 minutes of jogging. For the vocal articulation exercises you can use simple, short phrases. The important thing is to make sure that you say the phrases while you’re in the air; don’t say the phrases as you hit the ground.
Exercise #6: Walk around while singing
The important thing here is to walk slowly and at an even pace. In this situation, I wouldn’t sing scales; try doing sirens, singing a song from your set, or practicing your speaking lines instead. Many of you probably do this anyway as a means to try to get rid of that nervousness, and that’s great. Just make sure that you pace yourself and try not to use so much air. Do not whisper your lines; sing or speak with a clear, confident voice.
It’s all about movement
I hope you now have a better understanding of what you can do to effectively warm up your voice. These tips are just a jump-off point; remember that it takes time to develop skill and achieve mastery, be in singing or in sports.
I’m all about helping people like you get stronger, healthier voices and bodies, so if you’re looking for a program that incorporates all of the vocal and fitness tips that I give you on this channel, please check out my VOXXBODY® workout.