Search magnifier
Call our Clearing hotline: 01243 816001

Department menu

Energy Cost


The energy cost of various forms of physical activity has received considerable attention (Ainsworth et al., 1993). However, despite being a physically demanding activity that could offer an alternative to more conventional forms of physical exercise prescription: drumming has received little attention (Smith, 2001).


The aim of the study was to to investigate the energy cost of rock drumming during concert performance in a high profile rock drummer.


Subject: Clem Burke (drummer with the band Blondie): 52yr, 1.80m and 83.6kg) volunteered to take part in the study. Ethical approval was gained from the University of Chichester Ethics Committee.

Incremental drumming test:

  • Performed 6 hours prior to the concert.
  • Consisted of four 4-min stages, followed by fifth stage to volitional exhaustion.
  • Work rate at each stage controlled via a click-track that was audible to the subject through headphones (Sony, Japan).
  • Starting work rate was 110 b.min-1, increasing 20 b.min-1 for each subsequent stage.
  • Oxygen uptake (VO2) and respiratory exchange ratio (R) were measured throughout using a portable analyser (K42b,Cosmed, Italy).
  • Heart rate (HR) was measured throughout the incremental drumming test and concert performance using short range telemetry (S810i, Polar, Finland).
  • Energy expenditure was calculated using indirect caliometry from the respiratory data (using the final 60 s of each sub-maximal stage).
  • This was used to calculate the relationship with HR using linear regression
  • This relationship was used to estimate energy expenditure from the concert HR data.
  • Resting metabolic rate was calculated from the 2-min period prior to the incremental test, VO2peak was defined as the highest 15 s moving average VO2 during the test.
  • Figure 1 and 2 showing the subject playing drums during the incremental test to volitional exhaustion and concert performance.


Incremental test:

Peak heart rate: 191 b.min-1.
VO2peak: 2.02 L.min-1 (24.2

Concert performance:

Concert duration: 82 min 27 s.
Average heart rate: 145 b.min-1 (range 110-179 b.min-1).
Estimated total energy expenditure based on HR: 564 kcal.
Equated to 2.7 times greater than resting metabolic rate.
Average energy expenditure: 412 or 0.082


  1. Data showed that rock drumming is an intense and physically demanding activity with peak HR well in excess of age predicted maximum.
  2. Estimated energy expenditure from the concert revealed a rate of energy expenditure higher than those previously published for seated drumming.

  3. We conclude that rock drumming demands a high level of energy expenditure and warrants further investigation as an area of physical activity.

Ainsworth, B.E. et al. (1993) Compendium of Physical Activities: classification of energy costs of human physical activities. Med Sci Sports Ex. 25(1): 70-80.

Bannister, E.W. and Brown, S.R. (1968) The Relative Energy Requirement of Physical activity. In Exercise Physiology (Falls, H.B. (ed)). Smith, M.S. (2001) Physiological Analysis of Clem Burke during Blondie's 1999 ‘No Exit’ World Tour. In Blondie, From Punk to the Present: A Pictorial l History (Metz, A. (ed)).