2 Tests to Determine If You Should Train Today

An actor’s schedule is dictated by many, many things; auditions, rehearsals, performances, survival jobs, and other life commitments can make you feel like every moment of the day is occupied. When you do have a spare hour to work on your craft, you are hopefully eager to practice your singing, learn new monologues, take a tap class, etc. This is a great impulse, since peak performance levels require countless hours of excellent repetition to achieve mastery.

However, we need to be in a healthy state to be able to create these excellent repetitions, and it’s important to check in with yourself before your practice session to see where your body is. Beyond a general sense of “How am I doing today?” here are a couple of ways to determine if this is a day where you should train or not. If your stress levels are high, the best thing for you today might be to rest and recover.

Test 1 - Heart Rate Test:

1. Lay down and rest for at least 15 minutes.
2. Record your pulse rate (beats/min). To do this, you can use an oximeter, any of the variety of Fitbit-type products, or just count your pulse using a watch and your finger.
3. Stand up.
4. Fifteen seconds later, record your pulse rate again.

If the difference between your resting heart rate and your standing heart rate is greater than 15–20 beats, you are under stress and need to have some recovery time.

Test 2 - Mood Survey:

Another reliable way to determine readiness to train is to take a survey of your mood. I adapted this survey from one developed by Owen Anderson.

Assess yourself using the following six statements:

1. I slept well last night.
2. I am looking forward to my practice session today.
3. I am optimistic about my future performance.
4. I feel vigorous and energetic.
5. My appetite is great.
6. I have little muscle soreness.

You will rate each of these six statements on the following scale:

1 - Strongly Disagree
2 - Disagree
3 - Neutral
4 - Agree
5 - Strongly Agree

If your score is 20 or higher, then you are in a good physical state and can put in some great practice time. If your score is below 20, you may need rest and recovery. Some suggestions for recovery are:

By training in a good metabolic state and resting when we need to, we create less stress on our bodies and are able to reach our performance goals easier and faster.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Andrew Byrne
Andrew Byrne is a voice teacher, performer, and composer-lyricist. His songs have been featured in movies, Seth Rudetsky’s “Obsessed!” series, and in many international concert venues. He has served on the University of Michigan musical theater faculty, and has taught internationally at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, The Banff Centre, and the Danish Academy of Musical Theatre.