sign up for our

Home Shop Subscribe Advertise Articles Directories Classifieds Calendar FAQs Contact Us Login

Warm Up Your Voice Like An Athlete:
Breathe, Stretch & Twist (Your Tongue)

By Rick Lance

Voice Actor

Athletes, singers and other professionals warm up before they perform. Why wouldn't a voice over actor? 

Being a voice actor involves strain on your vocal cords, so warming up helps get your voice into perfect condition for a great day of recording.

Why is this important?

The more you tone your vocal cords, the more versatile you will be, while also reducing your chances of injury. 

Most seasoned voice actors will perform warm-ups after they wake up in the morning and then again before recording.


Breathing releases tension that can interfere with effective voice production. 

If you are holding onto tension, that tension radiates to the voice box muscles. 

Start by relaxing your shoulders and chest, then take a regular breath in and exhale. For the next breath, hold an "s" sound like in a hiss when you exhale. 

You want the focus of your breath to come from your abdomen and not your chest or shoulders. Place your hand on your abdomen as a reminder. 

Repeat a few times.


A limber body means a more relaxed voice.

Start with side stretches, which are great for expanding your rib cage and making your lungs feel like they are full of air. 

Raise your arms up to the sky, exhale and lean to the right, lengthening your body. Gently hold it there for a few seconds, and then lean back to center and then to your left.

Gentle neck rolls will help warm up your neck and throat muscles.

Gently rotate your head clockwise and counter-clockwise.


Humming, lip trills and tongue trills are important, too.

A loose, gentle modulating hum will ease your facial muscles and create space for resonant sound. It gets your resonators warm, which helps restore your vocal tone quality.

Lip trills and flutters will loosen facial muscles and get your vocal cords warmed up, too. 

To roll your lips, close your mouth and create a constant "b" sound. This will vibrate your lips, creating a trilling sound effect.

Next, tongue trills relax the tongue and engage breathing and voice.

Place your tongue behind your upper teeth. Exhale and trill your tongue with an "r" sound. Hold the sound steady and keep the breath connected. Try to vary the pitch up and down the scale while trilling.


Articulation is one of the most important aspects of your job. If you don't articulate and enunciate clearly, listeners will not understand what you are saying, and you will not be hired for the job. 

Tongue twister exercises are a great tool for improving articulation. For instance ...
  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • A big black bug hit a big black bear.
  • How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
These are ideal phrases - and they are tough for me too!


Yawning naturally drops your jaw and regulates oxygen while extending your soft palate. It relaxes your throat muscles and vocal cords, and as soon as they relax, the tone drops. Many actors swear by this technique.

You could also do warm-ups in the shower! Humidity will help as the moisture will coat and protect your throat, vocal cords, and more. Acoustics in the shower are an added bonus. 

Wherever in the morning, in the shower or in your bedroom, kitchen or studio, warm-ups are important. Like an athlete, you need to warm up and train to keep your voice in top condition.
Rick Lance has been working as a voice talent since 1993, transitioning from singing demos and personal projects in Nashville's music business to voicing hundreds of commercials, then promos, narrations, character voices and more. His vocal style is described as Americana, the voice of the Heartland. He is currently the voice (narrator) of three hunting programs and one outdoor program on the Sportsman Channel and the Outdoor Channel. His client list includes Toyota, Harley Davidson, Sony Entertainment, Coca Cola, Life Care Centers of America, John Deere, Jordan Outdoor Enterprises and Sacred Seasons II. He has also become a leading voice for the industries of construction, manufacturing, energy production, trucking, agriculture/equine, outdoor sports, travel, community banking, finance and health care. And he is a colorful voice for film, television, museum and corporate documentaries. "I'm lucky to be working within my comfort zone," he says, "literally living out my voice acting life as an outdoorsman, horseman, weekend cowboy and working man, gentleman farmer on my six acre mini ranch with my horses, dogs, cats and my wife near Nashville."



Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success
Tell Us What YOU Think!
Please Note: Since we check for spam, there will be a slight delay in the actual posting of your comment.
Your Name:
Your Email Address (will not be published):
Your Comment:
Your Comment:
Security code:     
Comments (2)
Debbie Irwin
4/26/2020 at 11:12 AM
Nice reminders about the importance of staying vocally fit!
Fred Humberstone
4/22/2020 at 2:36 PM
This is great advice. Doing the exercises can be fun. Thanks, Rick.
Back to Articles
For essential voice-over business strategies
On Michael Langsner's Voice-Over Roadmap Podcast
Get your bi-weekly dose here ... all things VO!
Inspiring interviews help your VO career