If you’ve ever been conflicted on whether to hit the gym or pick up your guitar for a jam session, you may be in luck. While it may not seem like direct exercise, playing your guitar does add up to a certain level of physical movement. But can it burn calories and build muscle like regular exercise can?
If you are playing guitar while standing for an extended period, you can expect to burn a significant number of calories while building muscle in your hands, arms, and fingers in the process.
You’re probably still wondering how playing your guitar is influencing your physical health. Keep reading to find out why your guitar may help provide you with all the exercise you may need.
Does Playing Guitar Burn Calories?
Quick side note before we start, I’ve had some readers ask about the easiest way to learn guitar. I’ve shared that here for those that are interested.
Ok, back to the article.
If you’re a guitar player, you’ll be relieved to know that your hobby could help you burn calories.
Exactly how many calories you actually end up burning will be determined by the position you play in. Here is a breakdown of how many calories you can burn based on whether you are playing guitar while sitting, standing, or performing live:
Playing Guitar While Sitting
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to piece together that you will lose fewer calories when sitting. An average male weighing 175lbs can expect to burn just 80 calories per hour when playing their guitar while sitting.
While 80 calories are not much, even this small amount of calorie burning can be significant if balanced with a relatively healthy diet.
If you consider that many guitar players are practicing for hours on end, this can be all the physical movement needed in your day to stay in decent shape—especially for doing something you enjoy without even getting off the couch.
Playing Guitar While Standing
If you want to make more out of calorie-burning when playing your guitar, try standing up instead of sitting.
The number of calories you can burn when playing guitar while standing is almost double the amount you lose when jamming in your chair. You can expect to burn 159 calories per hour when playing in a standing position.
If you are keen on losing weight, playing guitar while standing for an hour can burn almost as many calories as an entire hour of walking a distance of 3 miles. So, if you feel too lazy to hit the gym or go for a run, a couple of hours of jamming while standing up can be a justifiable alternative.
Playing Guitar Live
If you look at a guitarist playing at a live show, they are rarely sitting and are likely moving or even jumping around.
That energetic dance and movement that playing your guitar brings out of you on stage can help you lose as much as 239 calories per hour.
The general goal of most gym-goers is to burn about 400-500 calories in a workout; this means that a two-hour set of playing your guitar on stage will help you lose as many calories as a thorough session at the gym.
So, if you want to maximize that calorie-burning process while playing, get on your feet and let the music do the rest—regardless of whether you are performing at a live show or simply practicing at home.
Does Playing Guitar Build Muscle?
If you are considering becoming a bodybuilder by playing your guitar, you will find that endeavor to be extremely challenging and likely impossible. Considering the movements you generally make when playing the guitar, you are not exactly bench pressing or doing squats.
When you play your guitar, the actions you make are in your arms, hands, and fingers, which is precisely where you can expect to see the most results in muscle built from playing.
Building Arm Muscles
While guitarists are not known for being muscular, all that strumming does add up and will amount to building muscle in your arms. Much like burning calories, the amount of time you spend playing each day will determine how much strength you can expect to build.
The main arm muscles that will get a boost from your guitar playing are your biceps, triceps, and forearms. Even if you are a guitar player who is inclined to fingerpick rather than strum chords, you can expect to see results in your arm muscles all the same; this is due to your fingers relying on your arms to get in motion.
This is excellent news for those that want to tone up their arms for beach season without lifting dumbbells at the gym!
Building Hand And Finger Muscles
It is easy to overlook the muscles you build in your hands and fingers when playing the guitar. The constant and often intricate movements you make when playing allow you to develop complex muscles in your hands and fingers required for every skilled guitarist.
If you remember when you first started playing guitar, you will probably recall having sore hands and fingers that were likely not capable of the dexterity they have after years of practice.
Here are some playing techniques that have helped shape the muscle you have built in your hands and fingers:
- Power Chords: Those power chords you love playing are credited to the hand muscles you have defined while practicing them over time, which is why they tend to sound all the better, the more you practice them.
- Finger Picking: All that fingerpicking you do has not only helped build muscle in your arms but has also done so for your fingers and wrists.
- Chord Changes: Regardless of what genre you are playing, you can expect your hands and fingers to move with the music. Those constant chord changes will help you build muscle in your hands and your fingers.
Building the necessary muscles you need to be a great guitarist will come over time through practice. If you are ambitious about developing these muscles even when your guitar is out of reach, you can implement these hand exercises to condition yourself or simply limber up before starting your jam session.
Guitar Type Vs. Calorie Burn And Muscle Build
The type of guitar and style of music you play will play a significant role in the movements you make while playing. Guitars also vary in weight, which will influence the number of calories you burn and the muscle you build.
Let’s dive into the logistics of how guitar types physically benefit you:
The music often played on a classical guitar requires technical and sporadic hand and finger movement. All this movement will define the muscles you build at the end of the day.
However, you can expect to burn slightly fewer calories when playing a classical guitar; they generally weigh as little as three pounds and are often played while sitting (even for live performances).
While music genres associated with an electric guitar can vary, the standard is generally rock music, which can often focus on strumming chords and have less hand and finger movement.
The weight of an average electric guitar is about eight pounds. This extra weight results in more calories being burned – especially when performing on stage.
Does Playing Guitar Burn Calories And Build Muscle? In Conclusion
If you are curious about whether your guitar playing is helping you burn calories and build muscle, the short answer is yes!
Playing your guitar can burn calories; how much you burn will be influenced by the type of guitar you play and whether you are playing while sitting, standing, or playing live on a stage. However, while guitar playing will amount to building muscle in your arms, hands, and fingers, it is probably not an excellent alternative to going to the gym if you want to build muscle elsewhere.
Side note, do you want to learn to play guitar songs the easy way? Learn how here – results are guaranteed!
Last Updated on March 10, 2021.