Weight Lifting vs. Martial Arts for Cellists
WEIGHT LIFTING FOR STRENGTH?
Below is the attached file Steve mentions in his message to me.
"I lift weights about 5 times a week and can honestly say it does not help
my playing. Sometimes after a heavy workout, bench pressing in the 300
pound range, I do have to make extra effort to relax my muscles. Don't get
me wrong. I do believe that playing the cello requires quite a bit of
strength. It just requires different muscles. But they do have to be
strong. I got alot out of that article about stretching and so forth. The
other day at my last lesson I was playing a Duport etude in g minor. You
might know it better as #159 in the Schroeder book. After playing it my
teacher said " how's the arm?" I felt like I had just bench pressed 400
pounds!!! There is a ton of extended first postition in it. You know, like
a g minor chord in first position with 4th finger on g and 1st finger on b
Lifting heavy weights is not recommended for musicians, though some recommend
lifting small weights to maintain muscle tone. Another recommended activity
is swimming, which builds up your overall body conditioning and endurance.
Tennis is considered a "no-no" too, much to my dismay.
Strength should not be a focus in playing the cello. As Paul Katz,
Cleveland Quartet cellist, says in Victor Sazer's book, 'New Directions in
"It is far better for cellists to learn from the martial arts of the Far
East, which focus on balancing the body, loosening joints, relaxing
muscles, using body weight rather than flexed muscles for strength, and
breathing in ways to promote balance and ease." Somewhat paradoxically,
strength can be achieved with a degree of looseness, balance, and ease of
Since you are experiencing pain, I would say you REALLY need to buy this
book. You don't want to cause yourself permanent injury. This book has a
number of great tips on how to play more healthily.
Interestingly, you freely admit that you start playing before warming up.
Naughty, naughty :) For some good warm techniques, see the last Tutti
Celli, where our own Linda Hickey has an article called, "Stretching is the
Key to a Long Life of Playing."