Is Drumming a Good Workout?

Playing the drums requires the involvement of many muscles, making it a great cardio exercise. It increases your heart rate, engages your muscles, and makes you burn a lot of calories. Therefore, playing the drums can replace many types of workouts and help you lose weight and tone your muscles.

Many people prefer going to gyms or running, cycling, or doing different kinds of exercises for their workout routines. However, exercising as a byproduct of an activity you love makes everything so much easier as it gets you more motivated and makes you have fun while working out.

Depending on how long and how you play, drumming can be an amazing workout. As playing drums requires the involvement of four limbs at the same time, along with the engagement of core muscles, it can help you burn hundreds of calories in one sitting.

At a Glance

  • Drumming is considered a cardio exercise that can burn around 300-500 calories per hour, depending on the style of playing, of course.
  • For live performances, a drummer’s heart rate can get as high as 190 beats per minute which will burn around 400-600 (or more) calories per show.
  • The style of playing determines the calories burnt. If you’re a calmer drummer playing a casual style of music like swing or blues, your heart rate won’t go up that much as opposed to playing rock, metal, and other heavy genres.
  • Drumming is a great body workout. It helps strengthen your arms, shoulders, and core muscles. It’s also known to improve your immune system, mental health, cardiovascular system, and lower blood pressure.
  • You can use activity trackers like Fitbit or an Apple Watch to track your drumming sessions and see how many calories you burn or monitor your heart rate.

How Many Calories Are Burned While Playing Drums Burn?

Although the number of calories burned while playing drums depends on the individual’s metabolism and playing style, a typical drumming session for an hour burns 300 calories on average. As expected, playing faster and more intensively will burn more calories.

If you want to lose weight, burning calories is the most important way you can take. Running, exercising, and cycling are great ways to burn calories, just like playing the drums. On average, playing drums for an hour can burn as many calories as different exercises like jogging, pilates, and yoga.

However, the playing style determines the calories burned when playing drums. But we will get to that later on.

This research shows that rock drummers are considered top athletes. During a concert, the heart rate of drummers can go up to 190 beats per minute, which is impressively high. Rock drummers burn between 400 to 600 calories during live performances.

More research done by the Universities of Gloucestershire and Chichester shows that drumming is an equivalent workout to playing a football match in the Premier League.

How Does Playing Style Affect Calories Burn?

The playing style is the most important factor in how many calories are burned while playing drums. If you are a calm drummer, playing softly and gently without much motion will result in burning fewer calories compared to more aggressive, heavy-hitter drummers.

The technique is another important factor in calories burned while playing drums. If you have a really good technique, then you might be using less energy while playing as you can deploy different techniques, such as using the rebound of drumsticks or the Moeller technique.

If you are more active and your muscles are more engaged when you play more aggressively, the workout will be heavier, and the number of calories burned will significantly increase. Also, if you play tracks with a higher tempo, your muscles will be even more engaged, and the calories burned will increase.

This issue can be easily seen in different professional drummers. In the first video, Mike Portnoy is playing an aggressive drum solo with heavy hits and a high tempo. The physical burden of his playing style can be seen on his face, and he feels how much he gets tired after the solo. During the solo, it is evident that his heart rate is high, and he burns a large number of calories.

On the other hand, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts is known for his smooth playing style. He is gentle and soft with his drums, not using much motion. Playing like him will decrease the calories burned while playing but will save your power for longer playing periods.

The Physical Benefits Of Playing Drums

Burning calories is not the only benefit of playing the drums. It strengthens many different parts of your body, and improves your immune system and your mental health, contributing to your well-being significantly.

The first health benefit of playing the drums is that it strengthens many muscles in your body. As you mainly use your arms when playing, the arm muscles, along with the core muscles, get heavily trained.

The triceps, biceps, shoulder, and forearm muscles are the main arm muscles trained while playing drums. The hand and wrist muscles are trained, too. As it is a good cardio exercise, playing the drums boosts your immune system and helps you increase your basal metabolism speed. This way, you can prevent yourself from getting sick too often.

Playing drums also decreases stress, improves your mood, and can help your mental state to stay healthy. So, it is not just a physical but also a mental exercise that is very healthy.

Another important effect of playing drums is that it lowers your blood pressure. It helps the body’s cardiovascular system to work properly, preventing you from suffering from high blood pressure, a very common problem in many people.

Track your Drumming Workout

The best way to track your workout and see how many calories you burn or how your heart rate is doing is to use an activity tracker like Fitbit or an Apple Watch. This way, you can get a sense of how much energy you exude and how many calories are burnt. If you’re doing regular practice sessions, drumming is an excellent workout with many benefits like the ones mentioned above.


Playing the drums is a great upper body and cardio workout. Although the intensity of the workout depends on many factors, such as playing style, playing the drums requires the engagement of many muscles, making it a good workout in most cases.

Plus, playing the drums has many health benefits, from boosting your immune system to lowering blood pressure. Also, exercise becomes a byproduct of doing something you are passionate about, which is better as you can get more motivated and have fun while increasing your overall health and well-being.

Mike O'Connor
Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

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