10-20 Minute Guitar Work Out

Posted: May 27, 2010 by Paul H in Tips & Tricks

DumbellIf you watch sports players on the field before a game they are stretching, doing short sprints, calisthenics and working their muscles.

For guitar I have a great way to warm up like these guys and at the same time give your hands the daily exercise they need. I used to do this on Monday mornings with my single string class at GIT and it got us all warmed up for the day. You can do this in about 10-15 minutes but even better stretch it to 20 minutes.

Part of the concept is to work the left hand until it’s tired then let it recover while you work the right hand, then go back to the left hand, going back and forth for the time interval you have decided on. This is not really playing, it’s a motor skills workout and you can do it while you watch TV, listen to talk radio, whatever. Think of it as basically the same concept as exercising at the gym. (Btw, if you are a subscriber here’s the 10 minute Workout video).

These are the main exercises that I do, but you can also create your own, just make sure your hands get a workout, in other words they get tired, it should feel the way it does when you are doing push ups or sit-ups.

1. Left hand legato. Pick a position say, 5th position. (The term position refers to what fret your left index finger is located). Start with the high E. Play the 8th fret with your pinky, pull off to the 7th fret and then to the 5th, then hammer back up to the 7th and the 8th and then repeat, no picking. Do this 8 times then move to the B string and do it 8 times, then the G etc. When you get to the low E then head back up the strings. This uses the pinky, ring and the index fingers and it will test your strength.

2. Right hand tremolo. Only open strings.Start with the high E. Tremolo, (alternate pick) as fast as you can on the high E, count eight mid tempo beats then move to the B string, count 8 more beats then to the G string etc. When you get to the low E turn around and come back up. Make sure to go as fast as you can, your working out your right hand.

3. Left hand legato. Pick another fretlets say 8th position.Lets play the 8th fret hammer to the 10th and then the 12th, then pull back off to the 10th and 8th, play this 8 times, then move it through the other strings on down to the low E and come back up. This uses the index middle and pinky fingers.

By this point your hands should be quite warmed up!

4. More right hand tremolo. Now tremolo as fast as you can on the low E, 8 beats. Now the D string 8 beats. Now the A string, then the G string, D string, B string. Then using that string skipping sequence coming back down.

5. Left hand vibrato. Do this exercise at different fret locations so you don’t wear your frets down in the same place. Starting with the high E, vibrate 8th notes a couple bars with your index finger, then a couple bars with the second finger, the third finger and then the pinky. Move this through all 6 strings. Use supportive fingering when you can, in other words use the middle finger to help the ring finger, the middle and ring fingers to help the pinky etc. Also in those cases use your index finger to dampen out the other strings. I push up on the high E and B strings and all the others I pull down. Vibrate all the strings with every finger.

6. Now lets exercise both hands at the same time, a synchronization exercise. Lets do this at 7th position. Start out with the low E. play 5th fret, 7th fret and then 8th and back to 7th. Play those as 16th notes, four bars each string. All alternate picking, starting with a down stroke. (16 repetitions) Then move it to the other strings, A string, D string etc. You should vary the frets and fingers.

If you do these exercises each day you’ll get strong, be careful when shaking hands with other people, you could cause some serious damage!

  1. JimDouglas says:

    Great suggestions, Paul! I’m looking forward to seeing the video (just to make sure I’m doing everything correctly :)

    B-T-W, the vibrato exercises you suggested have been working great. I’m noticed a big difference in the past couple months…I never realized to focus on 8th notes, 8th note triplets etc…,but my vibrato is so much more even (and slower now).

  2. ricky says:

    i like this site ………

  3. How long have you been playing guitar? I myself have merely played electric guitar for 6 weeks and it’s very painful on my fingers, they are becoming better though.

    • Paul H says:

      Hi Wilber, I’ve got 2 words for you: massive repetition. I just started teaching a beginner again and I’m reminded when I’m teaching him how true this is. I’ve been playing for 45+ years, but it doesn’t matter. You could just play for a couple of years and be really good. Those 2 words are the secret.

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