Of late I've had this sudden urge to start doing push ups which I used to do a lot. I jog, cycle and do sit ups a lot, however, when it comes to doing something heavy with my hands, especially the fretting hand (left hand), I feel uncomfortable, "mentally". That's because I am, for some reason, paranoid whenever I hit my left hand by accident, click a finger etc. thinking "Oh my god I just ruined my fingers and I can't play guitar like I used to".

Now, as I live in Finland, we must go to the army, in others words do service for 0,5-1 years. That's pretty much why I thought of starting doing push ups. I'm pretty afraid of going to army because to me it seems I'm going to literally fk up my fingers and hands for good and pretty much lose my ability to play, in other words, lose my coordination skill, speed etc. It's extremely annoying that I'm so paranoid about my left hand.

This is pretty much keeping me away from push ups because to me it seems that by doing push ups I will "ruin" my fingers and thus hinder my ability to play the guitar.

Is this true that doing push ups has a negative impact on playing? Do you have any experience? Are there any famous guitarist of whom it is known that they go to the gym or something related to it?

I don't know why I'm so paranoid about this. I play a lot so it might be that due to playing the guitar being important to me, I become extra cautious in terms of "finger welfare" or something, I don't know.
You're overthinking it. Look at John Petrucci and tell me he avoids push ups.
There are countless ways of exercising, particularly upper body, that won't put that sort of stress on your wrists (and/or fingers).

Many musicians, including myself (despite the stereotype), are quite active. I'm 50-years old and still play ice hockey and baseball, to name a few (real baseball, that is, as opposed to beer ball) and that can occasionally smash up the ol' digits. My most common set-back is fingernails. I'm a finger-picker, not a strummer; between sports and my job, I mess up a nail or two far more often that I'd like. But you have to pick and choose what is right for you. There is nothing wrong with doing push-ups, of course. But if you start to feel strain, similar to carpal-tunnel for example, simply stop and consider alternatives.

Take a look at a guy like Springsteen. For a 66-year old, he's ripped. And from what I've read, he mostly does lifting and treadmill.

Pretty simple barometer; if it starts to have an adverse effect, stop doing it. And you never know, that military service just may well improve your hand/eye coordination. (Hey, I'm trying to be optimistic here).

The one thing that I absolutely can't stand and won't do, and it has precious little to do with anything athletic, is washing dishes. Few other mundane things mess up your fret hand as easily. Thank heavens I have a wife and a dishwasher for that.

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I'm also from Finland and have served for a full year. I didn't experience anything that could fuck up my fingers. You aren't required to do push ups or anything like that except for testing your muscles. I had to do like 20 push ups in my whole serve time. As for training I feel that my guitar playing has improved since I started to lift weights. Helps with stamina etc.

Don't overthink it. Doing sports is never bad. If you think that you can't do this or that just because you think you can hurt yourself, you are seriously restricting yourself.
it would be good to figure out how to do pushups with proper form and avoid hand injury on your own, before you're thrown into the army and have to do a hundred pushups with some cranky bastard yelling at you

i would advise you to do pushups on closed fists so your wrists aren't bent, but i don't think that'll fly unless the Finnish army provides a soft surface to put your hands on...
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You're overthinking it. Look at John Petrucci and tell me he avoids push ups.

He certainly does not avoid hitting the gym with a bunch of different exercises for his whole body. Some would argue that he played better during his skinny days but hey, he can still play all those songs from back in the good ol' Metropolis days, I am sure. It's not the skill that he has lost, could be more the memory. Heard him say things like that in an interview. Who anyways could remember the whole DT catalog note by note...

I've been going to the gym seriously for about 2 years now and if anything my playing has improved, I have more stamina and I enjoy playing guitar more after gym. Just do what you enjoy. If you don't enjoy it, don't do it.
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Last edited by Sakke at Jun 21, 2016,
Well, Jimi Hendrix trained as a paratrooper (discharged for breaking his ankle). Elvis served overseas. The band America were army buddies. I'd imagine a huge number of musicians from the classic rock era served in the army, and many in far more dangerous roles than any Finn is likely to see in the near future.

For what it's worth, my job for half of last year was making trails and building retaining walls with rocks found on the mountainside. Managed not injure my fingers, despite using chisels, hammers, and hands for rough work every day.
Pushups will help you play better. Although it's generally incidental to pushups they do increase your hand strength somewhat. That can only help on fretting, I would think.
Last edited by TobusRex at Jun 22, 2016,
I wouldn't worry about push-ups. Now, I have been through serious injury from training ... but that's because I was doing a lot of heavy weights, and not stretching properly. The end result being nerve damage when my ulnar nerve came lose. I eventually had an operation, and after that was back to virtuouso-level playing when I needed it (which wasn't often ... much more interested in being musical without relying in speed).
Far more likely to damage yourself overplaying at speed without sufficient breaks (RSI) than to damage yourself from strength-related exercise. Just make sure you warm up and warm down, and stretch.
There are indeed some things that you can avoid to not injure your fingers, and push-ups can be one of those, but that is more down to technique than anything else. So good technique can help you avoid injuries if you do intend on doing more risky or stressful movements.

The benefits from sports and working out are in that they relieve not just your mind of stress, but your body also benefits from varying types of movement. If you only use your hands and fingers while avoiding larger movements it's more of a risk to get RSI and such, your body needs that variety, so give it that.

The flipside of this, is that there are certain movements that use the same muscles or tendons you employ when playing guitar which will put even more stress on them, added to the hours you spend playing. One in particular that I've experienced is a small 'band' that more or less wraps around your wrist just before the joints connecting to the hands. It goes around several tendons controlling your fingers, and just like you can overstretch that particular one by doing too large stretches with your fingers, it can also get irritated if you do your push-ups wrong. Changing technique helped, as well as simply finding my limits. If you find that your arms are not tired, but other parts of your body hurt (particularly tendons, the bloodflow there is bad so injuries take longer to heal), then consider that your limit, not the fact that you can do another 20 and injure yourself in the process.

So if you do intend on working out, which I wholly recommend, make sure you do it in a healthy and responsible way. If you are not sure, consult a physician to see what you can do better to help or better yet, avoid physical injury.
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Last edited by FretboardToAsh at Jun 23, 2016,
Your worrying yourself too much, don't stress yourself out man, you will be fine.
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First, be aware that "pushups" are not a magical exercise or an exercise system. So many people have this idea... Pushups only work a few muscles, and only the muscles that move your arms in that particular direction. What about the 646 OTHER muscles in your body, and what about the muscles that move your arms the OTHER way?
I've been involved in all manner of physical activity all my life (I'm almost 70) Weights, sports, the army, martial arts, police work, various kinds of aerobic training...Fencing...Etc, etc.
In all that time, I only injured my hand badly enough I couldnt' use it once, and that was prior to my starting to play guitar.

Very few standard exercises incur any risk to the hands. Avoid hitting things. Or, if you like martial arts/ sports...Wear gloves. Wearing protective gloves is a good idea for any activity that incurs risk to the hands. I'm a cyclist as well, and I always wear padded bike gloves while riding.