Strength training and the building and maintenance of lean muscles in guitarists around and over 40 is important. In fact, it could be imperative. Playing guitar up on a stage under numerous lights and a lot of pressure from lots of people gives one good enough reason to need to be in shape. The muscles used the most when playing guitar are those in the arms and hands, obviously. The chest muscles don't really get any kind of workout when playing guitar, however they do contribute to supporting the weight of the guitar by the strap around the shoulders. In order not to slouch, which can be difficult with that weight around your neck, the shoulders should be in a pulled back position. This is difficult to maintain for an evening of playing and after a while they start to droop. When this happens the chest muscles also slouch and relax, when the shoulders are pulled back it puts certain pressure on the chest muscles. There is no particular training in the muscle sector for guitar players, just general rule exercise works.
If you don't favour visiting the gym, there are certain unexercises' you can do to strengthen the arms and hands, fingers especially. The hands and arms, especially fingers, must be in good shape to maintain a pleasant and comfortable feeling enabling you to play to your fullest ability throughout the evening. Doing finger exercises by practising chords and speedy movement up and down the fret and with the plucking of strings is imperative to keeping your fingers working strongly and without stress, such as cramps or pain. They say that exercising the fingers for instance typing using all fingers, and similarly playing guitar is good for arthritis, which inflicts many, especially those that use their hands a lot and it would definitely be tragic for a guitar player, or any musician, not to be able to play. Knowledge of such an instance for a piano player comes to mind. The chord and note exercises are essential for keeping your fingers strong and able; it also helps the forearm muscles. For these arm exercises, lifting hand held barbells is the perfect answer, something you can do whilst watching the hockey or ballgame!
A seasoned guitar player will ignore any pain or handicap and not notice it until after the gig is finished. Much of the pain could have been avoided had they kept in shape, a little at least. Most musicians welcome the idea of exercise, if their specific form of exercise is music related, when playing music is their ideal. However, diet is also really important if you are serious about maintaining a good physique.
Keeping in shape to be healthy is a benefit to everyone, and maintaining a good muscular system is important, because with weakened upper body muscles one couldn't lift a guitar let alone play one, and for those that aren't musicians it would be equivalent to lifting a few pounds. When you eliminate exercise completely, then you start to get weak at the knees and have to sit down to strum, with your guitar leaning on your knee, and the foot resting on a footstool. In addition, your music is less energetic than that of a rock star, calmer more peaceful renditions fill the air, the serenity surfacing with age. However, you still need that upper body strength no matter where your guitar is leaning.
Having pain is no fun, everyone knows that, but having pain and trying to have fun is impossible, unless you are a musician of course! Therefore, standing on the stage with a guitar strapped around your back for a couple of hours can get uncomfortable if you are in pain. So, instead of just standing there playing the guitar, babying the sore spot and getting stiff, roll your shoulders, move your upper body rhythmically keep it moving, standing stiffly in one position will not help but hinder, the ongoing movement will loosen the muscles, relieve the pain and remove the stiffness. Don't let your fingers get cold, harder to play and takes longer to warm up, a silly thought but significant one.
In addition, when in pain on stage, it shows on your face and the audience either think you are just plain miserable or don't want to be there, they don't imagine you are in pain. Either of these could be true but it is more than likely the pain you didn't take care of previously that is causing your dismal look. Exercises that could be done without going to the gym, of course if you enjoy that type of activity you will no doubt build a good strong upper body in half the time than using barbells in front of the TV, but that level of exercise must be maintained regularly, as all exercise should be no matter how limited.
The bottom line is, to be a great guitar player at 40 or older you just keep playing, and practicing and later in life exercising. The playing only gets better, but you still need to practice no matter how good you get, always new songs to learn and gigs to attend. Up there on the stage, everyone looking at you, how important is it that you are in good physical looking shape, when those fans are ogling you in awe.
About The Author:
Lou Lombardi is a guitarist and fitness enthusiast who has spent the last 15 years researching fitness training to optimize musical performance and creativity. He is the co-author of the fitness program Rockstar Bodies for Musicians over 40 with certified personal trainer B.C. Cliver. www.YourGuitarist.com.