Paradiddle, paradiddle, paradiddle-diddle. Drumming has its own language, vibe and reality, especially when it comes to the physical toll a drumming session can take on the arms, wrists, hands and ankles. Whether you are a full-body metal drummer like Igor Cavalera, a jazz-funk-rock-funk-jazz expert like Cindy Blackman, or just play a lot of solo garage gigs, warming up your drumming muscles can improve technique, stamina and chops.
The muscles and joints that let you transform a triplet into a jaw-dropping solo need to be primed, much like a runner, wrestler or champion hot dog eater. Warm-up exercises help to loosen up the body and mind, smoothing out the ride, so to speak, when tapping away on a Sabian Cymbal or keeping the bass drum thumping.
As with any workout, start with neck rolls. These rotations show you are ready for business and your head is in the game, plus with any potential head banging or jazz grooving, you want to make sure your neck can take the pressure of a heavy drumming attitude. Shoulder rolls can help if you have a particularly large drum kit or have to reach to hit your crash with full power.
Rotating the wrists increases flexibility and endurance. Use your hands, walls or the back of your bass player to bend the wrists up and down for resistance to help build wrist strength. For the fingers, dexterity is improved through the showy twirling of the drumstick while strength and flexibility are increased by stretching, flexing and rotating the fingers together and separately.
For feet and ankles expected to pound the bass drum pedal, bending and flexing against a wall or other solid object will stretch the muscles and loosen the joints. Rotating the ankles can also increase flexibility.
After stretching, flexing and contorting your appendages into drumming shape, its time to drill out some actual drumming exercises. These can be as simple as four-beat hits across the drum set to more complex rhythms or an improvised solo. Whatever the preference, start slowly and build up the rhythm as your body gets ready for stage, studio or sidewalk, then bust out the fills and beats threatening to burst from your soul.
As with any form of exercise, the body needs time to adjust and prepare for its mission. Drumming, with its physically-demanding skill and dexterity, is no exception. Warm up your body, your mind and pound out those licks before rising into drumming supremacy.