Ocean View Breath

What Makes a Good Warm Up?

I often talk to clients about creating warm ups for their voices, and many times they have no idea how to do it or they think exercising alone is enough. It’s true; exercise is good for us, but relying on traditional forms of exercise, like running, swimming or tennis, isn’t really going to change our voices.

A good warm up has 3 parts:

  1. Breath
  2. Movement
  3. Sound

This is an important guiding principle to evaluate any warm up routine. Breath relates to finding a way to free the breath and continue to inhale and exhale without restriction and compression. Many of us do physical exercises with so much effort, that we hold or restrain our breath. Since breathing is the power behind speech, a good warm up has to increase it, not avoid or limit, so breathing is key to any warm up.

Movement is important too because it helps you let go of holding patterns. If you sit and read an article aloud, you are breathing, but you aren’t moving. Moving helps keep the energy high on your voice so you can be a more passionate, energetic speaker and avoid monotony. It also keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. Movement enables more natural speech patterns.

Sound is the biggest factor people forget when they exercise. You can run (breathe and move), but if you are not emitting sounds, you aren’t doing a vocal warm up. To incorporate sound, you could sing or talk aloud, but you could also just make vibrating sounds, like vowel sounds, working on pitch control and scales or “sirens” (moving up and down). You could also Zumba dance and make sounds during a group exercise class. Yoga with chanting counts. Get creative … the important part is that you are emitting sound when you warm up your voice.