How To Sing From The Diaphragm (5 Steps To Success)

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  • What does it mean to sing from the diaphragm?
  • How should you practice singing from the diaphragm?
  • How is singing from the diaphragm used to sound better?
  • Do you always need to sing from the diaphragm?

Singing from the diaphragm is the number one way in which you can take your vocal ability to the next level.

Think about it: the best singers all have their own version of an ‘iconic voice,’ often mesmerizingly rich and passionate yet highly controlled.

A professional or experienced amateur vocalist will train and maintain their voice well enough to endure a lifetime on the road.

Diva queens, singer-songwriters, and rock powerhouses alike, they will often tour night after night – sometimes burning through the entire calendar year.

They are devoted to playing and singing shows for fans from all over the world.

But how exactly is this achieved? How do they do it?

The answer is: they’ve practiced singing from their diaphragm.

Yes – they probably have highly experienced vocal coaches – but there’s nothing you can’t learn and understand for free if you look in the right places … and you’re in luck here!

We’ve laid out a comprehensive guide to singing from the diaphragm to take your vocal ability to the next level.

Let’s do this!

The Short Answer

The diaphragm is a major muscle in respiration located below the lungs.

The diaphragm contracts by engaging the abdominals and surrounding core muscles while singing, a resonant space is created in the center of the torso, and the neck widens.

This muscular engagement is crucial for singing both healthily and powerfully.

Professional singers maintain their touring careers while delivering a powerful sound by singing from the diaphragm.

It’s easy to hear when a vocalist uses their diaphragm to sing: their voice sounds well-supported and full.

Professional and experienced amateur vocalists will ensure the throat muscles are relaxed.

In contrast, the stomach-area muscles (abdominals, core, lower back) are braced and engaged – almost as if they are about to perform a pull-up at the gym.

With this form engaged, they can take a big breath in – prepare themselves to exhale – channel the impact of their delivered note into the abdominal muscles, all while remaining firmly supported by the surrounding core muscles.

The result is a much fuller and richer vocal sound.

Provided the muscles in the face and throat are relaxed, there should be a tonne of space ‘up-top’ in the body, which improves resonance and vocal presence.

It’s important to ensure the muscles in the throat and face are entirely free of stress or sudden impact while singing.

Meanwhile, the lower torso muscles are free to become engaged and ideally will take all of the shock from powerful ‘belted’ notes – like an earthing rod absorbing lightning.

5 Steps to Successfully Singing From The Diaphragm 

Here is a short step-by-step guide to understanding and practicing singing from the diaphragm:

  1. Singing from the diaphragm requires an upright body position – standing is best. The back must be straight, solid, and supported by the abdominal muscles. 
  2. Imagine you’re trying to face forward in a natural yet powerful stance – like a superhero’s posture might look when they’re standing up straight. This helps you attain a posture that opens up the space in the diaphragm and allows your core to support your singing fully.
  3. Then, it’s always good to roll the shoulders forward and backward and release any tension in the neck by rotating its base (while keeping your head facing forwards).
  4. Now, as you inhale deeply and slowly, make sure the breath fills the chest and the upper stomach area – almost like you’re being inflated. Notice how your abdominal and surrounding core muscles (including the diaphragm) contract naturally as you breathe in. Try counting to 5 seconds, breathing in, then exhaling with an equal pace.
  5. Notice how the abdominal and core muscles (including the diaphragm) relax during exhalation. That’s what we want to change! Trained vocalists will keep their core strongly braced on the way OUT of a breath because that’s when they’re delivering the note. It’s not a ‘normal’ feeling, but it’s crucial to mastering your singing voice.

For an easy way to healthily generate the basic volume and projection of singing from the diaphragm:

1. Stand upright, breathe in, then imagine somebody running off with your favorite Rolex watch or Gucci handbag. Raise your neck and head, open the space in the face, and engage the core muscles to shout ‘OI’ – as if you were quickly shouting after somebody.

2. Notice how quickly the muscles in your body’s core engage with your vocal tract! The result is louder, more direct, and better supported than if you were to try and sing from your throat.

3. After a few practice runs, see if you can hold a pitched note (‘aah’ or ‘ooh) using this trick instead of a short ‘OI.’ This is the main building block in singing from the diaphragm!

What Does it Mean to Sing from the Diaphragm?

Here is a fantastic guide to singing from the diaphragm by vocal coach Eric Arcenaux.

Here, Eric helps us understand the process in the body: when engaging the abdominal and core muscles, a space is created above the diaphragm, which is suited to vocal projection, resonance, and power.

This video is adorned with plenty of singing examples from an engaged diaphragm and relaxed throat area.

The diaphragm is a muscle in your upper abdomen that regulates the airflow in and out of the lungs.

Diaphragmatic singing involves using air from your diaphragm to project your singing voice rather than taking shallow breaths from your throat.

Vocal instructors teach diaphragmatic breathing as a singing technique to train singers to use deep breathing, which improves vocal control, giving them more than enough air to project their voices.

When you learn to sing from your diaphragm, you inhale lots of air and exhale deeply to help control the air pressure in your lungs.

This vocal technique feels like singing from the belly, with the air resonating from your ribcage.

Diaphragmatic singing helps protect your vocal cords, improves your vocal range, and allows you to achieve a fuller, louder sound.

It also helps regulate breathing to prevent you from running out of breath in the middle of a phrase.

How Should you Practice Singing from the Diaphragm?

Always Warm-Up

Warming up your voice with breathing exercises before singing is the best way to improve your diaphragm control and protect your singing voice.

Warm up by taking deep breaths and doing simple singing exercises. Try singing long, even notes and simple scales.

The sounds “maah, may, mee, mow, moo” are fantastic for training the muscular transition between ‘closed’ and ‘open’ phonetic sounds.

All the while, ensure you’re controlling your airflow and breath support so you never run out of air.

Adjust your posture

It’s essential to relax your body—especially the vocal cords—as you sing from your diaphragm. Any tension in your body impedes your diaphragm’s ability to contract and release.

Maintain good posture and ensure your knees have a soft bend to keep your body from locking its joints and becoming too tense.

Drop and roll back your shoulders to free up space in the throat and neck. Relax your abdominal muscles, and lift your head ‘proudly’ as you sing.

Manage Your Vocal Range

As vocalists get into higher octaves, a common instinct is to start the sound higher up in the body, such as the throat, making it harder to sustain these notes.

As you reach for high notes, remember to keep sending breath to your diaphragm to make the most of your lung capacity.

Even though a high note might sound like it’s coming from the top of your body, it isn’t. It should be firmly rooted in the base engagement of your abdominal and core muscles, just like any note! 

Also, please experiment with engaging the diaphragm for lower notes in your range. This can often be the most troubling task for vocalists.

Keep everything engaged, open, and resonant – even if the note can be carried perfectly fine without this technique.

You’ll thank yourself in live performances and over the long term of your singing career.

Step-By-Step ‘Practise Session’ Routine

  1. Stand up straight. Good posture is imperative to proper singing technique. Start by finding a comfortable upright standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your knees and shoulders relaxed, and place your hands on your upper belly where your diaphragm is.
  2. Exhale fully. Push the air out of your lungs, letting your stomach relax under your hands as you exhale. Your stomach should contract as you do this.
  3. Inhale deeply. Take a large breath through your mouth and feel your stomach expand under your hand. Relax your throat as you take in the air rather than tighten it.
  4. Sing a sustained note. Sing a single sustained note using a simple vowel sound (“aah” or “ooh”) and feel the controlled expansion of your stomach. Push your stomach out slightly to expel every last breath of air. The more slowly you can feel the air releasing from under your hands, the more control you have over your diaphragm.

Check out this fantastic video by Chris Liepe, which tackles airflow management and keeping your breath control on point while engaging the correct muscles for diaphragmatic singing:

Do You Always Need to Sing from the Diaphragm?


You don’t always need to belt loudly (or at all) – but ALWAYS sing from a lower-torso place of muscular support and controlled airflow.

Even singing in ‘head voice’ should rely on diaphragmatic engagement – which Chris Liepe also discusses in the video above.

Wrapping Up

So, we’ve tackled how to sing from the diaphragm and looked at all its main components: muscular engagement, breathing control/airflow, resonance, and pitch control.

However, the learning never stops! Keep pushing your thirst for knowledge, tips, and tricks (in books, lessons, or online).

All the while, it’s essential to keep your practice regime balanced, healthy on the throat, and regularly lubricated by drinking plenty of water.

Many singers – some of which reach fame for their voice – develop vocal nodules, vocal cord stress problems, and other medical disasters by failing to engage their diaphragmatic muscles and taking it easy on the throat tension.

Some careers end, and worse, some of those careers even end in hospitals.

Ensure you’re being safe, especially with the more extreme styles of singing – e.g., Ariana Grande-style ‘diva’ belting or the vocal styles of rock icons like Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters and Steven Tyler from Aerosmith.

Keep engaging those core muscles – and keep having fun!