Should You Warm Up Before Playing Guitar?
Today I want to answer the question: "Should I warm up before playing guitar? I understand professional guitar players need to warm up but I'm just a beginner. What if I'm only practicing for 10 minutes?"
This is a really good question.
I think most people know that warming up before any kind of exercise is a good idea. You're more limber, have more blood flowing into your muscles, and these things help to prevent injuries. I think there's more to it when it comes to playing guitar.
I have two main reasons why I encourage all of my beginner guitar students to warm up when they start their practice session.
Why You Should Warm Up Before Playing Guitar
The first reason is that it gives you a chance to practice your techniques first thing. So much about guitar is learning a technique, practicing it until it's natural, and building speed with it.
So I'll have students do an exercise so they can start the practice session getting their fingers in just the right place on the guitar neck. With just the right amount of pressure. This starts your session with you knowing exactly what to aim for with your feel.
When you're practicing a chord progression or melody you're not focusing on these things. The subtleties of the techniques. The pressure and finger positioning.
The second reason is that it almost always makes for a better practice session. It will go smoother and be a little easier to do the things you're practicing. This in turn makes it more fun and you'll be more encouraged to practice more.
This reason is similar to the exercise analogy. You're getting your fingers, hands, and wrist loose and ready to play. I'll even throw a good stretching routine before I start my warm up for this reason.
And trust me, I'm guilty of not warming up before playing guitar. But I've learned (the hard way) over the years how valuable warming up it and how much more I accomplish when I do.
What Guitar Warm Up Should You Do?
This depends on what you're working on in your practice session and how far along in your guitar journey you are.
For example, if you're working on a song that uses a lot of barre chords, I'd recommend a warm up that included barre chords. Or even partial barre chords. Something to get your fingers used to the feel of barring.
If you're working on soloing or lead lines I'd warm up by playing scales or single notes.
And you'll find that your warm up changes over time. My basic warm up changes depending on what I'm working on. But there are still some fundamental exercises I still do after several years.
If you're a beginner than a speed developer exercise is always a good warm up. The speed isn't the objective here. Focusing on playing the notes cleanly and in time is. The goal with any warm up is to play something fairly simple so your attention isn't going all over the place. Choose something you have memorized (or memorize warm ups like this) so you're not trying to figure it out as you're warming up.
The more familiar it is to you, the more of your focus you can put on the technique. This one is worth learning.
How Long Should You Warm Up For?
There's no hard and fast rule, but I recommend spending 15-20% of your scheduled practice time warming up. So if you're going to practice for 20 minutes, spend the first 3 or 4 doing a quick warm up session.
This will vary of course. If you're spending 2 hours playing guitar you wont need to spend 20% of the time warming up! But use this as a guideline to start.
Thanks for hanging out with me today! I'll be back tomorrow for day 3. Again, I'd love it if you joined me for the next 28 days to not just watch the videos and read the blogs, but to pick up your guitar and practice a little bit.
Do you find it beneficial to warm up before playing guitar? Do you have a favorite warm up exercise? Let me know in the comments!