Playing the drums for a rock band requires the stamina of a Premiership footballer, research suggests.
Tests on Clem Burke, the veteran Blondie drummer, revealed that 90 minutes of drumming could raise his heart rate to 190 beats a minute.
Despite rock’s reputation for unhealthy living, Dr Marcus Smith, from Chichester University, said drummers needed “extraordinary stamina”.
A hour in concert could burn between 400 and 600 calories, he said.
Clem Burke, who provided the beat for hits such as “Heart of Glass”, “Atomic” and “Call Me” was invited to take part in the eight-year project by Blondie fan Dr Smith.
It is hoped that the results could help develop outreach programmes for overweight children who are not interested in sport.
It is clear that their fitness levels need to be outstanding
Dr Marcus Smith
Burke was connected to equipment to measure his heart rate and oxygen uptake, and the levels of lactic acid in his blood.
He found that during a performance, his heart averaged between 140 and 150 beats a minute, peaking at 190, levels comparable to other top athletes.
However, Dr Smith said that while top footballers were expected to perform once or twice a week, drummers on tour would be doing it every night at a different venue.
Drummers burn 4-600 calories per hour
He said: “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.
“Footballer 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.
“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.”
The project was conducted jointly by the University of Gloucestershire and the University of Chichester.
A dedicated “drumming laboratory” is now being built at the Gloucester campus and it is hoped that other professional drummers will be tested.
Dr Steve Draper, from Gloucestershire University, said: “This is the first facility of its kind in the world.”
Professor Edward Winter, a specialist in the physiology of exercise at Sheffield University, said that the challenge of playing the drums should not be underestimated.
He said that at 190 beats per minute Clem Burke was probably exceeding the maximum heart rate predicted for a man of his age.
“Rock drumming in particular is very energetic, and to add to this, these guys are playing in a hot environment – you’ll see them literally dripping with sweat.”
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