The Best Guitar Warm Up Exercises To Use When Practicing Guitar

If you have played guitar for any length of time, you have no doubt heard about the importance of using effective guitar warm up exercises at the start of your guitar practice sessions.  Although warming up on guitar in some way before starting to practice "is" helpful and necessary, most guitarists waste a lot of guitar practice time by warming up in ineffective ways. 

In this lesson I will show you a far more effective way to warm up on guitar than what is commonly used by guitar players.

The biggest mistake that most guitarists make when warming up on guitar is using exercises that have nothing to do with the actual things they practice and/or want to play.  For example, one of the most common guitar warm up exercises is a chromatic scale sequence similar to this one:

Although there is nothing wrong with this exercise in and of itself, the vast majority of guitar players will rarely play chromatic patterns like this in actual music.  As a result, playing exercises such as the one above makes the process of warming up on guitar a totally separate activity from your guitar practice session and brings you no long term benefit.  Truly effective guitar warm up exercises should help you to not only increase the blood flow to your hands but also to make a lot more progress each time you practice guitar. 

The best exercises for warming up on guitar are the ones that you actually intend to practice during your guitar practice session, only played in a "simplified" manner.  Here is an example:

If you intend to practice various lead guitar techniques during your actual guitar practice session, select 1-2 of those exercises and spend a few minutes playing them (or short excerpts from them) at a much slower tempo than you normally begin practicing. (This is very important.)  As you do this, concentrate on making the most efficient and effective picking and fretting hand motions that you can. 

Do not worry at all about playing fast (especially if your hands are cold during winter time), instead, play VERY slowly and spend some time looking at both your picking and fretting hands in alternation, making sure that the technical motions you have trained in the past guitar practice sessions are being done correctly.  Your focus should be more on "reviewing" previously learned guitar technique skills at slower tempos while simultaneously "warming up" your hands and your mind in preparation for practicing guitar. 

Your goal during this warm up time should be twofold:

1.   To increase blood flow in your hands and prepare them for playing guitar (this will happen automatically regardless of what it is you play).
2.   To prepare your hands AS WELL as your mind for the more intense guitar practice session to follow.  By using your actual guitar playing exercises for warming up on guitar, you avoid having to “shift gears” mentally to switch from general/unrelated guitar warm up exercises to thinking about your guitar practice session.  In other words, when warming up on guitar, it is important to do so with both your hands AND your mind. 

The most important thing to notice in this example is that your time spent warming up on guitar must never be a separate, unrelated activity from your guitar practice session.  Instead it helps to gradually build up and ease into the needed physical and mental concentration needed to practice effectively.  As a result, effective guitar warm up exercises will help you to make more progress on guitar without wasting valuable guitar practice time. 

You can easily apply the same ideas to warming up before practicing rhythm guitar exercises, chord changes or any other physically demanding area of your guitar playing.

Many guitar players believe that warming up on guitar prevents the likelihood of guitar playing injuries such as tendonitis.  The truth is that guitar warm up exercises do not, by themselves, prevent hand injuries.  Tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome are most frequently caused by overplaying guitar using improper technique and excessive muscle tension in your fingers, hands and arms.  If your goal is to prevent the likelihood of such injuries, you must focus on developing efficient guitar technique in both hands and making sure to NEVER, EVER practice through physical pain. 

By adapting the above approach making your guitar warm up time congruent with your actual guitar practice session you will not only increase the effectiveness of your guitar practicing but also will help to keep your hands injury free.

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