Metabolic Demands of Heavy Metal Drumming

Bryan Romero, Jared W. Coburn, Lee E. Brown, Andrew J. Galpin


Background: The drum set involves dynamic movement of all four limbs. Motor control studies have been done on drum set playing, yet not much is known about the physiological responses to this activity. Even less is known about heavy metal drumming. Aims: The purpose of this study was to determine metabolic responses and demands of heavy metal drumming. Methods: Five semi-professional male drummers (mean ± SD age = 27.4 ± 2.6 y, height = 177.2 ± 3.8 cm, body mass = 85.1 ± 17.8 kg) performed four prescribed and four self-selected heavy metal songs. Oxygen consumption (VO2), minute ventilation (VE) and respiratory exchange ratio (RER) were measured using a metabolic cart.  Heart rate (HR) was measured using a heart rate monitor. VO2max was determined using a graded cycle ergometer test. Results: The results indicated a metabolic cost of 6.3 ± 1.4 METs and heart rate of 145.1 ± 15.7 beats·min-1 (75.4 ± 8.3% of age-predicted HRmax). VO2 peak values reached approximately 90% of the drummer’s VO2max when performing at the fastest speeds. According to these results, heavy metal drumming may be considered vigorous intensity activity (≥ 6.0 METs). The relative VO2max of 40.2 ± 9.5 mL·kg·min-1 leads to an aerobic fitness classification of “average” for adult males. Conclusions: The metabolic demands required during heavy metal drumming meet the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for the development of health related fitness. 

Keywords: Drum set, Exercise physiology, VO2, Music

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