This is best exercise I have found to increase the strength and endurance of your hands and fingers.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by duo8675309, Sep 16, 2016.

  1. duo8675309


    Jun 5, 2005
    EDIT: To clarify, I am not saying that one should increase their hand strength so they can play harder. To everyone saying that it is better to relax your hand and use a lighter touch, not only am I in complete agreement with you, but the advice I'm suggesting is supposed to help you have a lighter touch.

    If you are trying to improve the efficiency and economy of motion in your technique, there are two areas to improve upon:
    1) Psychological/Nervous System - Relaxing your mind increasing your motor control and finger independence
    2) Physiological - Correcting your posture and increasing the strength and size of your forearms/hands, back, core, etc so that it takes less energy to perform the motions associated with playing your instrument.

    Not everyone needs to strengthen their hands. You don't *need* strong hands to play bass. All I meant to imply in my original post is that if for whatever reason you would like to make your hands stronger, the best way I have found to do this is by performing a proper deadlift as demonstrated here:



    Deadlifts. Plain and simple. I've tried stretches, fingering exercises, those gripper things, stress balls, you name it. Nothing has made my hands (aka FOREARMS) stronger than putting weight on a bar and picking it up off the ground.

    I decided to start lifting weights for completely unrelated reasons, but I was shocked to find out how light the strings and neck of my bass felt the day after doing deadlifts. Not to mention the benefits a proper deadlift gives to your back and posture, which directly translate into your playing.

    Just to be clear, as a musician you should always stretch your hands before and after you play, and running through various scales, finger exercises, and even guitarist grippers are a great way to strengthen your nervous system and improve finger independence, flexibility, etc.

    But if your goal is to make your hands / grip physically stronger, I highly recommend throwing that stress ball away, getting a gym membership and lifting some weight.

    Couple of edits:

    1) Deadlifting and weight training can be dangerous when performed without proper technique, but when performed correctly weight-training is perfectly safe and accessible to all ages and body-types.

    2) I am not implying that one should increase their hand strength so that they can play harder. Rather I would say that one of the main reasons people play so hard is because their hands are weak and they are over compensating. It is much easier to play with a lighter touch when your hands and forearms are strong.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
  2. dtripoli


    Aug 15, 2010
    I'm in agreement but wouldn't it be cheaper and more convenient to just buy some weights?
    Seems I'd be more likely to pick ups weights, dumb bells or kettle ball at home than jump in my car, drive to a gym and pay a monthly fee.
  3. Jloch86


    Aug 1, 2016
    Deadlifts are not for everyone. They're a difficult exercise to execute properly and some people just don't have the mechanics to perform them. It's not like a dumbbell curl where you merely bend your arm. Your feet need to be in the correct position, your head needs to be up, your shoulders need to be back, the bar needs to slightly graze your shins on the way up, your back needs to be perfectly straight and stable, and you need to breathe properly.

    Deadlifts are an exercise that takes practice to do correctly. One wrong move and you'll never walk again.

    Not trying to discourage anyone from doing them, but the benefit to danger ratio of deadlifts is extremely lopsided in favor of danger.

    I feel hand all the hand strength you'll ever need to play bass comes from just playing day in and day out.
    AndyPanda and gebass6 like this.
  4. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    No need to have strong forarms to play bass nor to have enough stamina or whatever. Your fingers are already strong enough to do the job, what you need is dexterity and have a strong ear.

    If it is finger independace you have to practice that.

  5. duo8675309


    Jun 5, 2005
    Absolutely! I live in an apartment and I don't exactly have the space for a bench or power-rack. It's definitely a goal of mine to create a little home gym in the next place I live though. I would love to have a yard so I could get a tractor tire and some sandbags of varying weights and work on some functional strength traning.
  6. duo8675309


    Jun 5, 2005
    So I absolutely agree that proper form is the most important thing in weight training, however I have to disagree with the notions that deadlifting and weight training are inherently dangerous and that not being able to perform a correct deadlift is a good reason to avoid the exercise. I would argue the person who can't deadlift correctly is the person that needs to the most. In fact, corrective deadlifting (i.e. low weight with a strict emphasis on form) is one of the best ways to help lower back problems and correct posture. You're right, though. If you have never lifted weights before, or if it has been years, you can injure yourself by lifting too much weight or lifting incorrectly. I don't like framing that in a way that would discourage people from exercising, though. Unless you have an injury or disability, deadlifting and weight training are perfectly safe exercises when performed properly and have tremendous health benefits. You do not have to use a full-size bar and weight plates to perform the basic exercise. You can start out with simple dumbbells or even just your own body weight.
    dbbltime likes this.
  7. hondo4life


    Feb 29, 2016
    Climbing cell towers works wonders for hand strength, and there is very little risk of back injury. However, I will agree wtih @Clef_de_fa that increasing hand strength should not be a priority.
  8. duo8675309


    Jun 5, 2005
    That second video is seriously amazing. Who is this guy? What is the context?
    ilansgroove likes this.
  9. duo8675309


    Jun 5, 2005
    Yup, rock climbing is amazing for forearm strength. I hope my post didn't come off as implying that hand strength is more important than finger dexterity and independence. And don't knock it til you try it - I totally get what you're saying about relaxing your hand and not exerting so much effort into your playing. I'm saying that it's much easier to do that when your forearms are stronger. The next time you go rock climbing try and remember to play your bass the next day and note how much easier it is to play with a lighter touch.
  10. SunnBass

    SunnBass All these blankets saved my life.

    Aug 31, 2010
    Columbia, Mo
    So, I just fell down a rabbit hole, 2 hours deep, watching all the Hal Galper Master Class videos on YouTube.
    That guy is a wizard, a powerful wizard.
  11. Beavisplaysbass


    Dec 11, 2015
    Squats are better in pretty much every way anyways.
    joebar likes this.
  12. Rlbragg15


    May 25, 2013
    I work out 3-5 times per week for about an hour at a time. My workout consists of medium to intense cardio for about 45 minutes and then body weight exercises such as push ups, chin ups/pull ups, and dips. Good for the whole body. Not sure if it improves my bass playing, but it can't hurt.
  13. CGremlin


    Nov 1, 2014
    Palm Bay, FL
    Get yourself a T-40 and kill two birds with one stone. :thumbsup:
    joebar, tzohn, LowActionHero and 6 others like this.
  14. NeverDropTheBass


    Nov 30, 2015
  15. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I carry my Thumb up and down the stairs a few times a day I think I'm good? but the OP does make some great points.
  16. There are children and women half my size who can play bass just fine; I really don't think strength is a prerequisite for playing bass. Rather it's a matter of practicing technique and learning to relax. It takes very little pressure to fret a note.
  17. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    Thank you so much for posting that second video. I wasn't familiar with Hal Galper until this thread. Amazing, mind blowing content. Cheers.
  18. carlis


    Dec 28, 2005
    So, you mean, one day we bassists will rule the Olympic Games?
    Arion likes this.
  19. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    + 1000. OP : Minimal strength is required to play the bass. To find out just how much, try gently pressing down on a string, until the note rings out clear.
    Stamina is best achieved by simply playing the bass, and building up the time gradually.

    Also..dont get me started on those useless ...(for bass playing purposes anyway)...gripping devices. :D
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
    lfmn16, Artobass and gebass6 like this.
  20. Fabio_MIJ


    Feb 3, 2016
    back home
    There is no best exercise you can do then doing exactly the same movements when you play, and you have it just playing the instrument. IMO, there are only two good reasons for doing exercise other than playing:
    _ you cannot play at the moment (for ex. you are in a train), so you have to find a surrogate to train. I doubt it gonna help a lot if you are already an intensive player. It is rather a good moment to rest.
    _ preliminary exercise: you are not able to play the instrument at all, so you have to train your muscles. But that's more physical therapy.

    Ask any serious professional, endurance is a matter of technique, not straight. With technique you eliminate excessive tension, gain control and coordination, and straight can be a consequence. This extends to mental activity. Constant (not necessarily intensive) exercise is the key.
    Ant Illington likes this.
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