Hand Strengthening Exercises

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Gia, Mar 24, 2002.

  1. Gia


    Feb 28, 2001
    Are there any exercises or "routines" I could do to make my hands more flexible and stronger? I have quite small hands and my bass guitar's neck is relativly small so I can manage it, but the DB I'm borrowing from school is full size and i really have to stretch to reach notes. And after orchestra or after practising my hands get strained and i get cramps.
    Thankyou :)
  2. let's see if i can explain this so it is understandable. hold out your left hand ,palm up.take your right hand and cover all the fingers and thumb except for the pinky...while holding the other fingers in place bring the pinky down to the palm of your hand then back up .. do this a few times and move on, covering the pinky,middle ,indexand thumb, leaving the ring finger out... just continue repeating until there are no fingers left. you should feel the pull in the palm and down through your wrist . i do this before and after playing and it has really helped me . hope it works out for you....
  3. While playing the Bass certainly involves muscles you don't ordinarily use, learn to keep your left hand relaxed and to stop the notes not by squeezing them against the fingerboard with your hand but from your shoulder.
  4. have always found that my hand strength improves by weight training with free weights. Hand strength, and grip is a lot to do with muscles on your forearm. I have found that certain exercises can target that area. Wrist curls with light weights, barbell wrist curls - also I 've seen people winding in a dumbell/weight, eg handle about 1 ft long with 5 ft of chord attached to it, weight is at the other end. Winding the weight up and down is good for your grip.

    I've also seen those gripmaster things - which I'm not sure about, although I guess that you can alwasy exercise each individual finger much as squeegeebrown mentioned.

    I always found squeezing a squash ball worked quite well (and was cheaper than a gripmaster). Also you can wrap an elastice band around your fingers and stretch your hand out, works your muscles in a different way to squeezing the squash ball!

    You know, I'm actually surprised that this thread has stayed clean so far!!!:D
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's because it is on the "Double Bass" side of the forum! ;)
  6. Darn it Bruce - I think you're right!!!! I must've taken a wrong turn back there at Off Topic!!!!;)
  7. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    for some reason pushups seem to really help my left hand - I do some other weight exercises too. When cups start feeling smaller in your hand, you know its working...I guess the explanation would be that its not so much in your hand, as others have said, it should flow from your shoulder/forearm. My hand does sometimes seize up a bit when trying new difficult/fast lines, but the answer there is practice.
  8. If it flows form your forearm - then it's those muscles that deal with your grip and grip strength!!
  9. Gia


    Feb 28, 2001
    Thanks guys !
    I'll try them out and let you know how it goes.
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    For what it's worth, I don't think you need to make your hands stronger...DB is simply a different animal from BG. If you try to squeeze your DB strings down the same way you do on your BG, you'll wreck your forearm no matter how large or small you are (I'm 6'2" and 190 lbs, and I completely ****ed my left arm up doing this when I first started). Like David K said, it's all about using your larger muscle groups (like biceps, shoulders, and back) to control what your hands do on the DB. And the best way to learn about these things is from a DB teacher. If you can't find or afford a teacher, be very careful that you don't hurt yourself with bad technique.

    Good luck.

  11. Gia


    Feb 28, 2001
    I do have a teacher........I just wondered if anyone here had any different things that they find helps them, that I could try.
  12. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    It's all really a matter of conditioning. I met this female double bassist from Chile, she teaches double bass at the University of Chile. She was a small woman, about a size 6 and had no problem making the bass sing. Her technique was awesome and her playing was effortless. The more you play, with the proper technique, the less cumbersome it will become.

    Having said that, I have to go practice now...oh how combersome. :D
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I understand. My point was simply that your teacher is in a better position to know what will help you with your conditioning than a bunch of strangers who don't play the same instrument as the one you're talking about, if you get my meaning... I've been working out regularly with free weights for about 10 years now, and while it's great for overall physical well being, it hasn't done jack for my bassplaying. In fact, when I was playing the piano professionally, I had to STOP doing almost exactly the same forearm exercise that was listed earlier in this thread because it was making my musical technique WORSE.

    You don't need bigger/stronger muscles, you just need to learn to use the ones you have.
  14. Shattered Seraph
    You've named two goals, strength and flexibility, and the means to attain each are different. The only way to get bass-specific strength is to play the bass. Nothing else will do the job. Flexibility is something else. The muscles that move your fingers are in your forearm. If your hands are cramping, do gentle stretching. Open your hands into a fan. You can knead/massage your forearms yourself. If it's really bad, apply ice - 15 minutes on, 20 minutes off. Liniments are a waste.
  15. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I don't think anyone here was suggesting that Broken Angel "get buff" and automatically become better at bass. However, Chris, yer talking from experience, so am I. I have *experienced* better endurance and control of the bass from doing pushups and shoulder strengthening weights. I actually don't exercise for this reason, its a side benefit of staying in shape though.

    Am I suggesting that this in any way substitutes for practice and technique? Of course not! But that wasn't really the question posed. I think pushups in particular (the "Herschel Walker" exercise routine, heh) strenthen the whole arm/shoulder as well as the hands, while not overbulking your arms or making you clumsy. I don't do any forearm exercises (other than play the bass), and I totally agree with Chris that it could very easily lead to strain and possibly injury when combined with professional bass noodlin.

    However, Chris and Don have noth been playing "real bass" a lot longer than me, so give their opinions more credence.
  16. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    Do warm up streching before you play, I think it helps.