Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

Does Drumming Burn Fat? (How Many Calories Do You Burn?)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 22, 2022

Recently I noticed the body fat percentage of one of my new fitness clients was surprisingly low, and upon inquiring about it, he told me - 'I'm just an average drummer.'

Lately, I’ve been hearing about 'cardio drumming' at the gym, and his answer prompted me to investigate if playing drums is actually a good exercise for calorie burn.

So I conducted my research, examining everything that’s relevant to this topic, and I discussed my findings with a fitness colleague who recreationally plays drums in his garage.

Here’s what I know.

Quick Summary

  • Drumming could be considered an effective exercise that burns calories since an hour-long drumming session burns around 550 calories.
  • Fitness experts have developed a type of exercise called cardio drumming, which involves hitting a rubber ball with drum sticks while performing other movements along with the background music.
  • In addition to calories burnt, most drummers experience some other benefits, including physical and mental improvements.

What Is Cardio Drumming?

Cardio drumming is a type of exercise class that simulates drumming sessions, but it allows you to stand up and move around to burn more calories per hour.

It's a Zumbaesque exercise that involves hitting drumsticks against the rubber exercise ball in a standing position while making other body-part movements. 

It's an interesting session since it involves music and rhythm and requires a little equipment - a pair of drumsticks, a rubber ball, and a base to hold the ball in place.

As it relies on physical aspects of drumming, the harder and faster you hit the ball along to the music, the calories burned will be higher.

As so, the creators claim that cardio drumming burns between 200-450 calories per hour, with an average of 252 calories burned during the session and benefits that include arm strength and endurance.

Is Drumming Good for Trimming Fat?

A person drumming in dark corner

Yes, drumming can be good for trimming fat since playing drums requires constant movement of the upper body and lower body simultaneously and often with high intensity.

That constant body movement activates many muscle groups, even the abs and core, to add power to kicks.

An hour-long rock drumming session produces an average heart rate of 145 BPM that burns approximately 564 calories, indicating that drumming requires significant energy expenditure [1].

For comparison, 190 BPM is equal to what most top-level athletes experience during their performance, so, no wonder why drums are considered one of the most demanding instruments you can play [2].

If you’re wondering how many calories drumming requires, one half-hour session can burn up to 250 calories which shows that playing drums requires more energy than approximately [3]:

  • 25 minutes of a tennis match
  • 25 minutes of jogging
  • 30 minutes of cycling
  • 75 minutes of yoga

"There's no other instrument that involves chaotically moving all four limbs like drumming. You know, rock drummers don't take their shirts off (during shows) to try to get chicks. It's because they're sweating, and it's really hot up there."

- Mike Johnston, Owner of Drum Lab

With everything said, playing drums could be considered a type of cardio exercise, and that's what some people recognized as a chance to form a workout called 'cardio drumming.'

Related Articles:

5 Benefits of Cardio Drumming

Drummer splashing water on his drums

Besides weight loss, drumming may also provide other physical and mental benefits, including improved posture, toning, a stronger immune system, and better cognitive functions.

1. Improved Posture

Considering actual drumming requires straight sitting (unless you want to develop back issues), it will improve your posture and help you adopt this correct sitting form making you sit this way even at the dining room table.

2. Toning Muscles

Sitting straight and absorbing the shock wave of your arms hitting the drum, the drumming session activates core muscles and helps them stay strong.

Nonetheless, playing drums predominantly activates arm muscles that are involved throughout the whole session, and therefore, regular drum hitting may help you tone your biceps and triceps muscles.

The same goes for lower body muscles, as musicians must tap and push pedals simultaneously, activating the front leg muscles and shins.

3. Stronger Immune System

A man showing his strength

A study from 2007 suggests that drumming can improve the body's immune response helping it produce more disease-fighting white blood cells called Natural killers [4].

4. Improved Cognitive Function

A 2006 study found that 20-minute drumming sessions a day over a few months made participants score better on IQ tests.

Also, participants of the study got a lasting advantage in concentration and reduction in behavioral problems [5].

5. Stress Relief

By creating music and exercising for weight loss simultaneously while playing the instrument, the drummer produces feel-good hormones called endorphins that boost mood and reduce the stress hormone cortisol [6].

FAQs

Is Drumming a Cardio Exercise?

Drumming can be considered a cardio exercise since it elevates heart rate similar to traditional cardio workouts, making it pump fast and burn calories.

Moreover, drumming can burn calories more effectively than running while at the same time lowering blood pressure and improving cognitive performance. These effects make drumming a great replacement for conventional exercises to lose weight.

Is Cardio Drumming Effective?

Cardio drumming is effective as it aids in the development of your hand-eye coordination and motor skills together with lessening symptoms of some health conditions.

Who Invented Cardio Drumming?

Dr. Michaelle Unrau invented cardio drumming inspired by the Japanese drumming form called Taiko - a combination of physical movements, beat, and energy of the drummers.

Being an educator and scientist that has been in the fitness industry since the 1990s, dr. Michaelle combined this tradition with her perception of fitness, and the idea of cardio drums was born.

Should You Replace Conventional Cardio With Drums?

I wouldn't recommend replacing conventional exercises with this form of cardio since it probably won't bring results as fast as traditional exercises.

An hour-long drumming session will help you lose weight (and teach you new skills as a bonus) but won't burn as many calories as an hour of intense workout like HIIT or vigorous running to burn belly fat.

If you really want to lose weight fast with drumming, you can combine it with a high-quality fat-burner to induce a thermogenic effect while playing.

Losing weight always requires hard work and sacrifice, and these products can make the process easier and more effective.


References:

  1. https://www.drums-alive.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Clem-Burk-Original-Study.pdf
  2. https://www.livestrong.com/article/411280-the-average-heart-rate-chart-for-athletes/
  3. https://www.benenden.co.uk/be-healthy/body/10-ways-to-burn-100-calories/ 
  4. https://www.newswiretoday.com/news/13547/
  5. https://news.stanford.edu/news/2006/may31/brainwave-053106.html
  6. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/1/338

Was this article helpful?

About The Author