Warming up is very different from a Practice Routine. (Go here for recommendations on how to build a practice routine.) When we warm up we’re just trying to warm up our hands and arms to prevent injury and so it’s not meant for technical development. In this video lesson I’m giving you my 5-minute guitar warmup that I use personally. We’ll walk through each element of the warmup individually and then I’ll play through the whole warmup at the end.
To start, I like to use right-hand-alone arpeggios with five different patterns. Each pattern is played on different strings and gets the right-hand fingers moving, including the thumb.
Now that the right hand is beginning to get moving, we bring in the left hand with a simple chromatic scale walking from the sixth string to the first and back down again.
Now that we’ve gotten the left hand moving a bit with the chromatic scale, we’ll add in some additional movement with slurs. We’ll do this exercise in fifth position with varying patterns, starting out with 2-1 descending slurs, and then moving into other patterns including ascending slurs.
Chromatic Scale (16th Notes)
Now that the hands should be getting warmed up, we’ll move back to the chromatic scale. However, this time we focus on the right hand by introducing sixteenth notes in the right hand. In addition to the speed of the sixteenth notes, we’ll get all fingers moving by switching right-hand patterns. Start with i-m alternation. Then move to a-m alternation.
Chromatic Octave Scale
Finally, we’ll do yet another chromatic scale, but this time with octaves. This one is a bit more advanced so if you’re not familiar with this you can return to the chromatic scale again to follow along. The real benefit of this one is getting the fingers moving laterally and with independence.
While it will extend your five minutes, one other thing to consider is to stretch before you begin your warmup. Just as runners stretch or walk lightly before beginning a run to prevent injury, stretching is a good idea before you start your guitar warmup. This can vary, but it might involve light finger movement, rolling of the wrists, gently pulling fingers up and back on both hands, and so on.
I’m warmed up, now what?
After warming up, I like to play through a couple of etudes. This is a great way to shift toward technical work, but with a musical intention.
I hope you find my 5-minute guitar warmup helpful in your practice! To follow along and use this warmup at home, download the sheet of exercises below.