Drummers 'need same stamina as footballers'

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The Independent Online

Drumming in a rock concert puts the performer through a workout as gruelling as a Premier League footballer endures during a match, exercise scientists revealed today.

An eight-year study involving Blondie's Clem Burke found that drumming over 90 minutes lifted his heart rate to the same level as Cristiano Ronaldo's in a league game.

The physical demands of his trade meant Burke's heart averaged between 140 and 150 beats per minute, but could go as high as 190. He burned between 400 and 600 calories per hour during the trials.

Tests on the Atomic drummer included the measurement of oxygen uptake, blood lactate and heart rate in rehearsal tests and monitoring heart rate and blood lactate during live stage performances.

The full findings of the joint project by the University of Chichester and the University of Gloucestershire will be presented in Gloucester today.

Dr Marcus Smith, of Chichester, said: "There is a clear link between fitness and performance. Musicians need exceptional stamina to sustain optimum output, especially when on tour.

"Footballers can normally expect to play 40 to 50 games a year. But in one 12-month period, Clem played 90-minute sets at 100 concerts. If you looked at the heart rates of a Premiership footballer and Clem over 90 minutes, you wouldn't know which was which.

"Footballers find playing a Champions League game once every two weeks a drain, but these guys are doing it every day when they are on tour.

"When you consider the implications of the touring on top of the performance requirements for high-profile drummers, it is clear that their fitness levels need to be outstanding.

"Through monitoring Clem's performance in controlled conditions, we have been able to map the extraordinary stamina required by professional drummers. We can now use this data to benefit others."

The Clem Burke Drumming Project is working with the Department of Health, Sport and Social Care to develop outreach programmes targeting overweight and disengaged youngsters.

A dedicated drumming laboratory is being built at Gloucestershire's Oxstalls campus and it is hoped other professional drummers will come forward to undertake physiological profiling.

Dr Steve Draper said: "This is the first facility of its kind in the world and we are extremely excited about the potential here. It is a unique collaboration between science and arts."

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