5 Guitar Warm Up Tips That Make You A Better Guitarist

By Tom Hess

How to eliminate excess
muscle tension in your
guitar playing

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What are the best guitar warm up exercises for you to practice?

You probably know that all guitar players warm up differently.


The best warm up exercises (and the worst ones) have certain things in common.

For example, BAD warm up drills:

1. Only warm up your hands - not your brain. (You'll see what I mean in a moment.)

2. Cause you to practice mindlessly and develop bad habits.

3. Have nothing to do with the music you play & practice.

And the best warm up drills?

They are polar opposite of the bad ones. :)

More specifically:

There are 5 tips that help you find the best warm up exercises.

Check out this video to learn the tips & start using them in your playing today:

Here are the main takeaways from the video to use next time you warm up:

Guitar Warm Up Tip #1:

How to eliminate excess
muscle tension in your
guitar playing

By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Tom Hess Music Corporation who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.

This is super obvious, but it needs to be said: Kill 2 birds with one “warm up stone”.


Look for warm up exercises that warm up your picking hand and your fretting hand (at the same time).

It’s pretty simple to find exercises that satisfy this rule (as you saw in the video).

But the best warm up drills also follow the 4 tips below.

Guitar Warm Up Tip #2:

Base your warmups on the music you play in real life. For example: Warm up using fragments of exercises, songs and solos from your practice schedule.

Just find ways to make them challenging while warming up and playing slowly. (The next tip explains how to do it.)

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Guitar Warm Up Tip #3:

What’s the worst thing that can happen during your warmup?

The answer is...

...your brain falling asleep and going on autopilot. This causes mindless practicing and creates bad habits in your playing.

How do you stop this from happening?

Make sure your warmups force you to concentrate to play them correctly.

Simply ask yourself: “How can you make your warmup drill more challenging (without playing fast)?”

Check out these ideas for some cool drills you can warm up with (and improve your creativity at the same time):

Guitar Practice Circuit

Guitar Warm up Tip #4

You should become a better guitar player even while warming up. “How is that even possible?”, you may ask.


Warm up with something you know you should practice anyway, but you typically ignore. (Because it’s hard or boring.)

For example: Practice memorizing notes on guitar. You can set a metronome and challenge yourself to find a random note on every string, while playing in time.

This challenges your brain, involves both hands and is something you have to do in real life.

Another example: figure out an unfamiliar scale sequence in a familiar scale (watch me do this at 5:19 in the video).

Question: “But Tom Hess, earlier you said to warm up with things I have in my practice schedule! Why are you now saying to practice things I usually don’t work on?”

Answer: Warm up with anything that makes you better. Period.

This often means the exact things in your practice schedule… but it can also mean:

- exercises you used to practice but aren’t practicing today.

- drills you plan to practice a few days from now (that are not in your practice schedule today).

- exercises that you know you should practice, but often ignore (for whatever reason).

Focus on the principle – not the example :)

Guitar Warm Up Tip #5:

Warm up with exercises that integrate (combine) 2 or more skills together.

For example: double pick the notes of your warmup drill.

Simple? Yes.

Effective? Yes x 1000.

Double picking forces your hands to be in sync and keeps your fretting hand from playing faster than it should.

Another idea is to create a sequence from your warmup exercise. (Watch the video from 16:25 to see how.)

Question: “Tom Hess, how much time should I spend warming up?”

Answer: Warm up for as long as it takes to get your fingers ready to play at your faster speeds. You will typically warm up longer in winter months than during the summer months (that is normal).

Want to see even more warm up tips?

Check out this guitar practice video by Guitar Practice Expert Mike Philippov:

Now that you know how to warm up, the next step is to overcome the #1 enemy of your guitar technique – excess muscle tension. Tension keeps you from playing guitar as fast and accurately as you want. Download this guitar technique eGuide & make your playing feel easier than cutting butter with a hot knife.


Tom HessAbout Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.

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