How Can I Strengthen My Arm Muscles?

One of the complaints I hear most often during puppet practice is, “My arm is tired.” I remember making that same complaint when I began my puppet experience.

That brings up the question, “How can I strengthen my arm muscles so they don’t get tired so quickly?

The first and best answer is to maintain weekly puppet practices and during those practices refuse to slack off. In the gym while working out, you often hear the phrase, no pain, no gain. It works the same in puppet practice. In fact, when I hear a puppeteer complaining about sore arms, I know that strengthening is taking place.

I’m not a physical fitness expert, so I can only share what I’ve done. While weekly practices are important, there are other things I’ve done the rest of the week to strengthen my arm muscles when a puppet isn’t handy. Here are some that I’ve used.

1.    Play the piano. Sound strange? When playing the piano (properly, not the one finger method) the hands stretch out and back as they move across the keyboard. Many of those motions are the same ones used in puppetry. We’ve discovered that most people who play the piano consistently pick up puppet skills quickly.

2.    Play with a stress ball. A stress ball is a liquid or sand filled small ball to squeeze and work with your hand. It also seems to work the same muscles used in puppetry.

3.    A rubber band. I hold my hand out as though working a puppet, wrap a rubber band around my fingers and thumb, and then open and close my hand like when using a puppet. NOTE: I make sure to use a sturdy rubber band and keep my hand away from my face just in case it breaks.

4.   A hand exerciser purchased at a local sporting goods store.

The key is to use my arm muscles during the week in a similar manner that as with puppets. With some added exercise during the week, it’s easier to work my puppet for longer periods of time.

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