Warm-up for singing: Physical and breathing exercises


A little over three years ago, I shared my vocal warm-up routine. Re-reading that article alerted me to the fact that I have branched out a bit and my warm-up routine is now more varied.

The function of a warm-up is still the same: warming up the muscles that play a role in my singing, “greasing” the coordination, “getting into the zone” and checking in with my voice and body. Two things have changed, or rather become more varied:

  1. I use a wider array of exercises as a starting point. Some days, it’s glissandi on “m”, “ng”, and “n”. Other days, I sing scale fragments in my comfortable middle range on different forms of “r” and with “horse lips”. Other days, I start with octave glissandi downwards, or I launch right into scale fragments, depending on how I feel.
  2. I often use five to ten minutes of physical activity and/or breath-focused work to mobilize my body and get into good tension.

Now, the latter is probably informed by the fact that I have, over the past two years, adopted a pretty regular exercise habit, mainly bodyweight exercise programs, but also some yoga.

Last summer, I got a few interesting pointers form a friend of mine who freedives. From the resources he shared with me, I was able to extract some exercises that helped breathing a lot – I can now sing through some phrases I struggled with six months ago! Also, my high notes seem to come more easily. Another source of my new pre-singing warmups popped up in the “related videos” section of my favorite Youtube yoga videos.

I’m going to share some of them here – with some precautions. The videos I’m going to share here are mostly geared towards able-bodied people who already have a fitness routine. It is commonly advised that you consult a physician before starting a new form of exercise, especially if you haven’t done anything in the way of exercise in a while. I personally would add that a) if you have no experience with working out whatsoever, it is safest to start with an experienced instructor, and b) never push past the point of pain or intense discomfort (dizziness, nausea etc.). When it hurts – stop.

Follow these tutorials at your own risk!

For the following breath-related videos, you will want to avoid doing them on a full stomach. I find that having at least one hour (better two hours) after a meal before I attempt them is necessary, otherwise I will get queasy.

Adam Stern – renowned Australian freediver – on increasing lung capacity:

Sara Campbell – Kundalini Yoga teacher and freediver – has a Kundalini Yoga sequence for freedivers:

(Campbell does each exercise for about 3 minutes, which – if you aren’t familiar with Kundalini Yoga – feels really long. I found it beneficial to go through the whole video one or two times until I had memorized the exercises sufficiently so I could do them without the video. Now I do each of them for 1-2 minutes before I sing.)

When it comes to warming up the body for singing, I think Sean Vigues workouts for singers are fun:


That’s it for now; I hope you will find it useful 🙂

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