How Does An Artist Prepare?
We asked Christopher Burchett to journal for us his sick training schedule in preparation for his upcoming PROTOTYPE Festival role in David T. Little's "Soldier Songs." The process is impressive, results are not too shabby either (see photos below)....
Journal of an Opera Soldier
I’ve included my last two weeks of workouts as a sample of what I’ve been doing. You will see that I’m not always consistent with what I do. This is due in part to the fact that we were in tech week last week and I’m not able to always get to the gym to workout. Prior to these last two weeks I had been more consistent in getting to the gym. Since I’ve been in Norfolk rehearsing Die Fledermous, I have been going to a gym here.
Every day I run for a bit, usually no less than 3 miles and sometimes as much as 7. It depends on how I’m feeling that day and how much energy I have. As a singer who uses his or her body, there must be a constant appraisal of how you are feeling. If I didn’t sleep well the night before and I know I have 6 hours of staging rehearsal after I finish my morning at the gym, it makes no sense to run 7 miles and have nothing left in the tank for the rest of the day where I am on my feet and singing. Either way, I do tend to run on the treadmill with a slight incline so that I can guarantee a calorie lose of at least 400. After warming up with a 30-40 minute run, I begin my muscle training. I switch back and forth between two routines; chest and upper back on one day, abs, arms and lower back on the other.
Prior to coming to Virginia, I had been working out at home doing exercises that were mainly body resistance (pushups, crunches and pull-ups). With everything but the crunches, I was being very careful to observe a 60 second rest between sets and doing each set to fail (going until I can’t do anymore) before that rest. Without the addition of a bench press here in Norfolk, my push routines had gotten as high as 90 pushups in my first set before fail.
I had also started running a lot more over the summer. I have always been a recreational runner. Someone who would run 3 miles or so maybe 3 times a week during the summer. But last summer I kicked that up. And by the fall I was up to 25-30 miles a week, sometimes as much as 10 miles on one run, which has led me to participating in my first half marathon here in Norfolk (see picture below). The fact that it took place the day after we opened the show was unfortunate, since it meant that I could only get about 4 hours sleep before the race, but I had a great time doing it, and finished with a good “first race” time of 1:45 for the 13.1 miles.
My diet has changed some in the past 5 months of my training. I have cut out all general bad food. I LOVE cheap Chinese food like sweet and sour chicken. Haven’t had that for quite some time. Lunches are usually turkey sandwiches or something like that without chips. Meals are most often fish, sometimes chicken, with a green vegetable either grilled or steamed. Deserts are fruit. Snacks are cliff bars and/or fruit. Breakfast is now three eggs, some sort of meat, yogurt with natural granola. After workouts I have either a fruit smoothie with 20 grams of whey protein powder, muscle milk (a weight lifting protein supplement) or chocolate milk which is another high protein source. What’s been interesting is that my initial weight loss (about 15-20lbs) had been expected. But after the initial loss, I have still lost another 5-7 lbs. When you add to the fact that I can see muscle growth through pictures taken over time and that muscle weighs more than fat, the fact that I am STILL losing weight was a bit alarming. I came to the conclusion that I needed more calories in my diet…..so………I now get chocolate chip cookies during the day. Usually about 3 or 4. I’ve also allowed cashews back into my diet (a guilty pleasure) as well as an occasional drink. The idea is to have calories as long as the food isn’t “processed”. It seems to have halted the continued weight loss.
- Christopher Burchett 11/13/1
Running for the week
11 mile run outside (in preparation of the half marathon)
Total: 24.84 miles
Nov 6th - 150 x 7 | 155 x 5 | 160 x 3
Nov 8 - 150 x 7 | 155 x 5 | 160 x 3
Dumbbell alternate bicep curl (60 second rest between sets)
Nov 5th - 35 x 10 | 35 x 8 | 35 x 5
Nov 7th - 40 x 5 | 40 x 4 | 40 x 4
Nov 10th - 40 x 5 | 40 x 4 | 40 x 4
Lat Pulldown (60 second rest between sets)
Nov 5th - 50 x 10 | 60 x 10 | 65 x 10
Nov 7th _ 50 x 10 | 60 x 10 | 65 x 10
Nov 10th - 50 x 10 | 60 x 10 | 65 x 10
Crunches (60 second rest between sets)
Nov 5th - 100, 100, 100
Nov 7th _ 100, 100, 100
Nov 10th _ 100, 100, 100
Push-ups (60 second rest between sets)
Nov 6th _ 76, 39, 27
Nov 8th _ 76,41,28
THE GAIN ....