The Beat Beginner
Songs Beats & Fills Technique Rudiments Drummers Gear

Burning Calories With Jason Pierce

Nadia Azar  /  UPDATED Jun 28, 2023

Drummer Lab is a series that follows Nadia Azar’s kinesiology research on some of your favorite drummers.

How many Calories does Jason Pierce burn during a show with Our Lady Peace?

In 1998, Our Lady Peace played at St. Joseph’s High School here in Windsor, Ontario. Almost all my friends went to the show…except me.

I can’t remember why I didn’t go, but 20 years later…redemption! Not only did I get to see them live on back-to-back nights, but I got to collect energy expenditure and heart rate data on Jason Pierce during both shows!

Setting Up photo by Sean Palmer

Here’s what we found:

At the first show, Our Lady Peace played 16 songs, two of which were acoustic (“In Repair” and “Somewhere Out There” – Jason played a cajon for those songs). His total energy expenditure (including down time between songs) was 915 Calories over the 90-minute set (~10 Cal/min). In terms of energy expenditure, “Naveed” was the most intense song (~13 Cal/min) and “Ballad of a Poet” was the least intense (~7 Cal/min).

In terms of heart rate, however, Jason’s average and peak rates were highest during “Drop Me in the Water” (163 BPM and 185 BPM, respectively), and lowest during “Ballad of a Poet” (117 BPM and 130 BPM, respectively).

Jason’s total energy expenditure was much lower at the second show (566 Calories), but this was to be expected given the much shorter set length (57 minutes). However, his average intensity level was nearly identical (~10 Cal/min). In terms of energy expenditure, “Innocent” was the most intense song (~13 Cal/min) and “Hiding Place for Hearts” was the least intense (~3 Cal/min). Once again, Jason’s heart rate told a somewhat different story: his average and peak heart rates were highest during “One Man Army” (174 BPM and 187 BPM, respectively), and lowest during “Hiding Place for Hearts” (137 BPM and 160 BPM, respectively).

jason pierce calorie table

Both the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology3 and the American College of Sports Medicine4 recommend that healthy adults accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise per week. Based on his heart rate (HR)2, Jason accumulated over half of that at the first show alone! He spent 42% of the show at a ‘moderate’ intensity, 48% of the show at a ‘vigorous’ intensity, and 1% of the show ‘near or at maximal’ intensity, for a total of 82 minutes (91% of the show) at or above the recommended exercise intensity.

Pierce Bar Chart Show 1

At the second show – although Jason spent a similar total proportion of time at or above the recommended exercise intensity level (99% of the show) – the distribution of time spent in each of the exercise intensity categories was very different. This time, Jason spent substantially less time at a ‘moderate’ intensity (9% of the show) and substantially more time at a ‘vigorous’ intensity (83% of the show) and ‘near or at maximal’ intensity (7% of the show). There are a couple of reasons why this might have happened:

First, the set at the second show included fewer of the lower-intensity songs (and no acoustic versions), but it contained most of the same higher-intensity songs, as the set from the first show. Heart rate increases with exercise intensity, so a set list containing fewer of the lower-intensity songs would result in more time spent at higher heart rates.

Second, there was a huge difference in the ambient temperatures between the two shows. The first show took place in an air-conditioned indoor venue, while the second show was at an outdoor festival on an exceptionally hot and humid summer day. When Our Lady Peace took the stage at around 8pm, the outdoor conditions were sunny, 84°F (29°C) with 59% humidity, and very little breeze to speak of5.

Pierce Bar Chart Show 2

When you exercise in the heat, your body has to balance the need for 1) blood flow to your muscles to fuel the exercise, and b) blood flow to your skin to help dissipate body heat6. One of the adjustments your body makes to meet these demands is to increase your heart rate6. Therefore, due to the intense heat, Jason’s heart was probably beating faster during the second show to maintain blood flow to his muscles while simultaneously working to regulate his body temperature. This, along with the higher intensity set list, is likely to be a driving factor behind the shift in the distribution of the time Jason spent in the higher intensity exercise categories.

Jason accumulated a total of 56 minutes at or above the recommended exercise intensity3,4 at the second show. So, between the two shows, Jason accumulated 137 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise…”just” by playing the drums.

Top 3 takeaways:

  1. Jason’s average intensity was similar at both shows (both ~10 Cal/min).
  2. Heart rate increases when exercise is performed in the heat due (in part) to the added demand of moving blood to skin to help regulate body temperature6.
  3. Over the two shows, Jason spent 137 minutes at a moderate to vigorous intensity, which nearly meets current weekly exercise recommendations for healthy adults3,4.


  1. Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights [document on the internet]. Boston (MA): Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School; 2018 [cited 2019 May 29]. Available from
  2. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (10th Ed). 2018. Deborah Riebe, Jonathan K. Ehrman, Gary Liguori, Meir Magal (eds.). Wolters Kluwer Health, Philadelphia, PA, 472 pp.
  3. Canadian physical activity guidelines for adults 18-64 years [document on the internet]. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology; 2018 [cited 2019 Nov 7]. Available from:,at%20least%20twice%20a%20week
  4. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR, Franklin BA, Lamonte MJ, Lee I-M, Nieman DC, Swain DP. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: Guidance for prescribing exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2011 Jul; 43(7): 1334-1359. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318213fefb. Available:
  5. Time and Date AS [Internet]. Past Weather in Mansfield, Ohio, USA — July 2018. Mansfield Weather History for July 14, 2018 [cited 2019 Nov 27];[about 3 screens]. Available from:
  6. González-Alonso J, Crandall CG, Johnson JM. The cardiovascular challenge of exercising in the heat. The Journal of Physiology. 2008 Jan 1; 586(Pt 1): 45–53. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2007.142158

Featured image: Nadia Azar
Setup image: Sean Palmer

Nadia Azar Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Windsor, where she runs the Drummer Mechanics and Ergonomics Research Laboratory (DRUMMER Lab). Follow Nadia at @DrNadiaAzar or learn more here.

Improve your speed on the drums with El Estepario Siberiano’s FREE course.
Enter your email to get all 10 exercises sent to your inbox.

By signing up you’ll also receive our ongoing free lessons and special offers. Don’t worry, we value your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.