Have you often wondered how your fitness and body type might impact your vocals?
Being physically fit changes your singing voice in that you breathe, resonate and perform at your best when your body is healthy. Fitness has nothing to do with your size or how much you weigh, and the priority is feeling good.
Read on to find out how your health and fitness routine may affect your singing, ways to build confidence and whether you need to take steps to have a healthier voice.
Fitness and singing
Your whole body is involved in producing sound. The most important thing is feeling comfortable in your own skin when you’re up on stage. There isn’t a prototype for how a singer should look; people of any size and shape have the potential to be a good singer. Female singers in particular often face pressure to look a certain way, but being healthy and happy is the most important thing. Musical ability is infinitely more.
You should aim to maintain your health through a nutritious balanced diet and exercise.
The singer’s body type
You’re probably familiar with the unofficial names for body types: the apple, the pear, and the hourglass. But in scientific terms, there are actually three main body types:
The Ectomorph – this body type tends to be thin, lean and struggles to gain weight (as muscle or fat). They may appear smaller in size but can still be just as strong as the other body types.
The Mesomorph – people in this category have greater than average muscle development. They have broad shoulders, fast metabolisms, and responsive muscle cells. They tend to be well-built, muscular, and lean.
The Endomorph – someone with this body type will put on weight easily and struggle to get it off again. They often have a “pear” body shape, with wide hips and short limbs. Endomorphs can still be as fit and healthy as the other body types, but they have to train harder to stay in shape.
You might not fall completely into one category and it’s common to have characteristics from across a couple of the body types. You may not stay the same body type for your whole life, either.
Vocal timbre and body type
Your body type can determine what your natural breathing technique is. Understanding this may help you identify your own vocal habits and work out how to embrace your type.
Ectomorphs – lean singers breathe higher up in their thoracic system and tend to fall into a pan-costal breathing technique (shallow breathing). They breathe more with their rib cages than their chest. A diaphragmatic breathing technique, where you draw deeper breaths, is thought to be better for singing.
Mesomorph – this group uses their side and back muscles a lot when they sing, to help their ribcages expand. They tend to use the costal breathing technique, which is used a lot in Pilates. Mesomorphs have to be careful to not over-engage their abdominal muscles while they sing because this can reduce breath control.
Endomorphs – singers with more body fat breathe lower in their thoracic region (further down their spine) than the other body types. They use an ‘appoggio’ breathing technique; aligning their head, neck, and rib cage so their ribs can expand and their diaphragm can move down. Endomorphs can tire easily when singing.
It’s really important to state that focusing too much on your weight can lead to negative body image. Become fit and healthy as a singer and don’t feel pressured to look a certain way. If you have confidence in yourself it will show when you sing, so take little steps to teach yourself self-love. Find three different things you like about yourself every day and say them to yourself the mirror. Maybe write more down on post its and stick them in your room or on that mirror. Turning your negative inner voice to a positive one will make the world of difference.
Express yourself through fashion and wear clothes you love. Focus on what makes you happy and be you. Don’t spend time comparing yourself to others – especially on social media, which can be very unrealistic – you are unique and wonderful!
Does height affect the voice?
People of all shapes and sizes can be healthy and good singers. Your entire body acts as your instrument when you sing, so height, stamina and body type can all play a role in how your voice sounds and functions. Everyone is unique and common beliefs may not apply to everyone.
On average, taller people have deeper voices because they have bigger vocal folds and longer vocal cords. The general belief is that the taller a singer is, the deeper their sub-glottal resonance is (because there’s more room for vibration in their larynx) and the lower the pitch of their voice.
It’s not just your height; the size of your tongue, mouth, and bone structure all affect your singing voice too. Even the size of your neck can affect your voice; a thicker neck can increase your vibrato. Your physiology determines the timbre and tone of your voice.
Does losing or gaining weight change your singing voice?
You may notice changes in your voice if you gain or lose weight. These changes depend on how much weight you lose, and how much you weighed to start with.
If you’re overweight, shedding excess mass could potentially improve your singing voice. Carrying too much weight hinders your singing because the fat accumulates around your vital organs, making breathing laborious. Losing this excess fat means you can get better lung expansion and allows you to practice better breath control, which improves your voice’s stamina and endurance.
Overweight singers have to use more musculature to get their chests to expand while they sing. If you lose weight, your core muscles need to be conditioned properly to remain strong despite not being used so much.
Losing weight in an unhealthy way or too quickly can make your voice less powerful. If you’re underweight, your vocal system can become fragile and you become more susceptible to injury. Following fad diets can deprive your body of nutrients and lead to hormone imbalances, which can stop your body and voice from functioning properly. Instead, reward your body with delicious fresh nutrient-rich foods and tasty treats in moderation.
- Does puberty change your singing voice?
Boys in particular experience major changes in adolescence as the voice ‘breaks’ and drops to a lower register. Any vocal training should be gentle during this time. Girls also experience some change and a vocal drop, but this is more gradual and less pronounced.
- Can someone lose their singing voice?
Laryngitis and illness can cause temporary vocal loss. Nodules and continual vocal strain can result in more severe and lasting issues, as can serious diseases. But this is very rare. It’s important to take care of your health, ensure you warm-up and use techniques to sing without hurting the voice.
Share your body confidence tips and positivity in the comments below.