Chances are that you’ve already read about the importance of warming up before your practice sessions. Maybe you’ve read it so many times that you’re sick to death of hearing about it!
The reason why warming up is constantly mentioned is that it’s freaking important. It helps prepare you for more intensive practice, and also helps reduce the likelihood of injuring yourself when you’re practicing. So let’s get started with this lesson by talking about a few general concepts…
Warming Up Basics
Although there’s no “right” way of warming up. But here are some basic ideas that I feel are very important to mention…
Make Sure That Your Practice Room Is Warm
Probably one of the best ways to warm up quickly is to make sure that you practice in a warm environment. In other words, don’t practice in a room that is really cold. If this means that you to turn on your heater when practicing guitar, then so be it. Having a slightly bigger electricity or gas bill is a small price to pay to help you to avoid injury.
Get Active Before Your Practice Session
I like to go for a short walk before I do my first practice session of the day. If it’s a cold day outside, then I’ll just walk around my apartment for a few minutes. After I’ve done some walking, I almost always do some gentle stretches to help loosen me up.
Keep It Short
I’m not a big believer in warming up for a long time before practicing. There are a couple of reasons for this…
- It’s inefficient. In you don’t have a lot of time for practice then doing a long warm-up would take up too large a chunk of the time that you have allocated for practice. For Example: If you only have an hour to practice each day, then warming up for 30 minutes would take half your available practice time.
- It’s unnecessary. If you follow the two suggestions above then it shouldn’t take you very long to warm-up. Another reason is that if you organise your practice session in a way that is progressive (i.e. starts with the easy stuff first), then you should be fully warmed-up by the time you get to the technically demanding stuff. [Side Note: Remember that we’re talking about warming up before practicing NOT performing. Obviously, if you’re warming up before a performance you’ll probably need to warm-up for a lot longer than what I’m mentioning in this lesson].
There are innumerable warm-up exercises that you could choose from. And in all honestly, it doesn’t really matter what ones you use as long as they do the following two things…
- Warm up all four fingers of your fretting-hand.
- Warm-up your picking-hand.
With that said, I though it would be helpful to give you two specific exercises that you can use to warm-up with. They’re certainly not the most musical sounding things that you could play, but they will effectively warm-up both your picking and fretting hands in a relatively short period of time. Let’s jump right in with the first exercise now…
Guitar Warm-Up Exercise 1: Practice For Five Minutes
This exercise uses alternate picking, and involves playing through the following six finger combinations of your fretting-hand…
- Finger 1 to Finger 2
- Finger 1 to Finger 3
- Finger 1 to Finger 4
- Finger 2 to Finger 3
- Finger 2 to Finger 4
- Finger 3 to Finger 4
The idea is to slowly play through the exercise as written in the TAB and then move onto the other strings. Continue doing this until you have done five minutes of practice.
If, after doing five minutes practice on this exercise, you still don’t feel warmed up properly, then you would move onto the following variation…
Guitar Warm-Up Exercise 2: Practice For Five Minutes
This exercise should be practiced in the same way as the first one.
A Few Last Words
Practicing both these exercises in a row would give you an extremely effective 10-minute warm-up. But if you find that you only need 5-minutes warm-up, then it would be a great idea to practice them both by doing them on alternate days…
- Day 1: Do Warm-Up Exercise 1 for five minutes.
- Day 2: Do Warm-Up Exercise 2 for five minutes.