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building endurance

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by BobBolt1, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. Hi,

    I'm looking for advice on how to build up endurance, specifically in my right plucking hand. I play electric bass. For most songs, endurance is not a problem. However, recently my band played a gig w/3 45 minute sets. In 2 particular songs, I play a lot of notes very quickly. The second of the 2 songs was in the third set, and I couldn't play the song as I'd practiced. After about a minute into the song, my right plucking hand got tired and no longer had the strength to play all the notes I'd practiced.

    So I'm looking for suggestions to help me deal with this problem so that the next time I can play every song with full strength in my right hand. :confused:
  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Just keep on doing it, endurance strength comes from endurance training. Play until your hands hurt every time, and every time it should get a little bit longer. Make sure you put an emphasis on technique.

    Honestly you need to be doing regular 3 hour sets to handle doing them once. I found that the endurance needed for 3 hr sets 3 times a week was the first thing to go when I took a practice "break".

    You could also try putting those songs earlier in the night.
  3. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Would have to see you play before I gave you advice. If your technique is good, then moar practice! But if your technique is bad, more practice could injure you.
  4. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    It depends on where you need endurance. If your hand tires and aches then it is part technique, for the reality is you should feel this in your forearm....not your hand. Yes your hand will tire, but not really hurt. The 'pain' in your forearm is more of a burning feeling rather than pain, and will go after a minute or twos pause. This is caused by the build up of lactic acid in the muscle and the reason we tire is to slow down the production of lactic acid and allow the muscle to clear it via the bloodstream.

    So for endurance what you need is 'food for the muscles' in the hands and arms. Since using the hands extensively does not raise the heart rate, so increase the blood flow to the muscles bringing them much needed energy then the energy to fuel the muscle must come from somewhere else. In other word you do not get out of breath using your hands so it is not an aerobic use, it is an anaerobic use.

    So lots of water, stay hydrated, not with energy drinks, energy drinks are an instant short lived boost what we need is good long term slow release foods. All that means is food that releases a steady stream of energy over time, not a big short term boost, that frankly when used will see us crave another one....eventually. They are good for a top up but not for the source of the energy.

    To function properly, in life as well as in playing,we all need energy. Our fuel comes from a combinations of the quality of our breathing and the food we eat, but not all foods are the energy rich sources we need. Remember in playing, there is a certain mental stress that happens, it may not be visible or we may not even be aware of it, but it is there. The body prepares for the coming task in many ways from anxiety, nervousness etc, to elation and joy. On stage we perspire more than normal, especially forces perspiration as under heavy lights. This drains our energy, it drains our body of much needed salts and minerals, so it is no wonder that sometimes we suffer fatigue.

    Fatigue, lethargy and depression can occur due to deficient energy in the body and low blood sugar levels. Excess energy intake, because we normally play at nights if way to much may induce restless or broken sleep, which again adds to the problems. So having a good balanced diet makes it easier, as does eating the correct foods in the correct amounts before playing. So rather than a burger and a few beers try and find better foods to help give a balanced source of energy.

    Vegetables –
    Green Vegetables contain vitamins and minerals including vitamin B, magnesium and iron. E.g. Sprouts, Broccoli, Asparagus, and Spinach. Other vegetables also give you an energy boost. Carrots, potatoes and other vegetables are full of vitamins and nutrients and they can raise your blood sugar because they are digested and quickly absorbed in the bloodstream. These energy-giving foods are good for you and contain such vitamins as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folic acid and potassium. Green Parsley leaves have lots of vitamin C and boosts cell regeneration helping the body get more energy, chewing on them will help reduce breath orders as it has great neutralising chemicals in it.....it will help with things like 'garlic breath, smokers or beer breath'.
    Eggs –
    Eggs are a great source of energy, and supply a high amount of protein. Protein is vital in almost every bodily function, and most people experience better energy levels when consuming a good source of protein at every meal. Eggs are considered a complete protein.
    Cereals –
    Cereals such as Shredded Wheat, Corn Flakes or oatmeal are great foods that can give you a lift. These cereals tend to be digested slowly so they give an extended release, and help to keep your blood sugar level stable. Adding fresh fruit to the mix will also provide a steady release of glucose, keeping your body fueled and your brain alert throughout the day. Oats are the best head start you can give your body every day! Oats are low on the glycemic index as they contain a lot of fiber, which means that your body gets a steady stream of energy. They also contain energizing and stress-reducing B vitamins that help to break down carbohydrates into usable energy.
    Fruits –
    Fruits are a food group that guarantees an energy intake due to the fructose level and the vitamins they all carry, particularly Vitamin C. The most energizing fruit are grapes, peaches and citrus fruit due to their high fructose content, as well as bananas, watermelon, oranges, mangoes, dates, pineapple, cranberries and papaya.
    Seeds –
    Most of the seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin are very rich in proteins and minerals and their presence in a person’s nutrition is an important source of energy. They are also a source of magnesium and iron. The polyunsaturated fats they contain are benefit for the cardiovascular system and help the blood flow to the heart and brain.
    Nuts –
    All nuts from peanuts to pistachio are an excellent source of minerals with a high nutrition factor. They contain vitamins A, B and E, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. They fight against anemia and bring the body durable energy.
    Fruit smoothies and shakes –
    The smart combination of fruit juice and milk is always a source of energy. The combination of vitamins and calcium increases the body’s energetic potential and it is also a very refreshing helping hand when you get extra tired while working.
    Green tea –
    Green Tea is a source of antioxidants and an important resource of energy for the entire body.
    Honey –
    a fantastic source of energy
    Beans and lentils-
    These are a great source of potassium and carbohydrates. Lentils are a great source of both carbohydrate and protein. They are also high in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium and copper. Lentils are also low in fat and calories.

    So in short help your body and give your muscles a chance to work at full potential. One of the reasons for pain, cramp, tiredness, is your bodies way of reducing the stress it is coming under through lack of energy. So to prevent damage and injury, it will slow down the use to ease the person away from that level of use, or introduce pain to stop the use immediately if it feels damage will occur. So in short you body will protect itself from you, what you have to do is listen to it and learn to maximise those shut down levels.
    Warm ups and stretches before and after use will always help, and over three sets you have breaks, use then to re- hydrate and replace lost energy, minerals and salts. For some basic info on the difference between building endurance and speed follow the link.
    Any questions this post has raised, please post here and I will try and answer them if I can.

    Fergie Fulton
  5. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA

    It also pays to be able to play at least some of the music using different fingering for either hand. For example, switch your right hand from index/Middle to Thumb Up/Down or Thumb/Index or a pick, to give your fingers a short break. Perhaps the music changes with interludes, breaks, bridges, that make playing a little differently sound natural?
  6. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Fergie Fulton

    In the link is an out take from a series of videos i was involved in about four years ago, unfortunatly the company shooting them went bust and this is all i have of the series that i was involved in.

    I plan to re-shot the topics again myself when i get a bit more time to not only deal with the many common issues that crop up here on TB, but with playing in gereral.
    In this clip it exposes the myth about the fingers being different lengths, and deals with the wrist and the Carpal Tunnel, the forearm to wrist lines, and what joints are prefered when plucking. As you see it is all linked and each part of the info supports another part, so you can build in the elements rather than just have a complete change. Each element will cause another one to conform in some way or another.
  7. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    On top of the good advice already given, I'd like to add that one of the best ways to tire yourself out too quickly is plucking with too much force. I like to dig in sometimes, but playing with a lighter touch is the easiest way to increase your speed and endurance. Past a certain point any increase in force exerted on the strings is just wasted energy. Turn your amp up a bit and lighten up with the right hand.
  8. Thanks for the good advice so far -- how about exercises to strengthen my right hand, to be done daily and/or shortly before the gig?
  9. bearhart74

    bearhart74 Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2009
    play Billie Jean by MJ at fast tempo 10 times every day. Increase the tempo when you get comfortable
  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Exercises should be done daily, it is better to do any as short routines every day rather than one long one say once a week. It is the regularity of playing that will develop playing. Exercises before playing should be short and considered a warm up. Do not over do or exert the hands before playing, just warm them up so the are ready to play.

    Remember exercises take two forms, one for stamina and one for dexterity, so be carefully not to change the function of a dexterity exercise to a stamina one and vice versa.
  11. staindbass


    Jun 9, 2008
    this will sound funny, but practice 'dizzy miss lizzy' by the beatles. long ago i played in a 50-60's cover band and i scoffed at playing the song. i tried to play it and near the end of the song my right hand was gonna fall off and started to freeze up. after weeks of practice i could play it twice in a row no sweat. its a silly bass line but your fingers have to keep switching strings and its a good workout.
  12. G3Mitch


    Feb 8, 2011
    New Zealand
    great thread. subscribed.

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