A couple of weeks back in the Six String Sunday newsletter I included 5 of my favorite warm up exercises that I run before playing guitar.
It is crucial to warm your hands up before you play a show or get into your full practice routine (this can be on your own, or during a guitar lesson). I liken it to a runner stretching before they go out, so they don't get hurt.
Doing these warm up exercises gets your hands ready for the rest of the awesomeness that you're about to get into.
The first exercise starts off easy, with a pentatonic run starting in fifth position (at the 5th fret on your guitar).
Exercise 2 is to get your ring and pinky finger going. You can also play a simple two note pattern (3rd fret, 4th fret), all the way up the neck vertically to really start feeling the burn in those fingers.
Like any exercise though, start off slow, and if you start feeling any sort of pain, stop. You don't want to pick up the guitar cold and go into wide fret skipping action. Take it easy and ramp up your exercises.
Exercise 3 is a simple angular exercise that will typically help your picking hand accuracy, if that's feeling rusty. Try this with all alternate picking.
Exercise 4 continues a similar pattern, but is all about string skipping. String skipping is one of the most common ways where beginner players make mistakes, so this might be a good one to run a couple of times in succession.
The final exercise is a cool off exercise before you start actually playing, that runs up the first couple of notes in a 1-2-4 pattern, in terms of frets.
I wrote these exercises out on my iPad Pro, but I think it'd be beneficial for you to take them, modify them, and try playing the exercises in actual keys.
Start with a plain exercise, change a couple of notes around, give it a rhythm and voila, you wrote a riff! Most warm up exercises we've seen before (whether it be in a book or on the internet), so make them your own, and work on what you know needs work in your playing.
What do you do to warm up?
What kind of warm up exercises do you use? I can recommend a great book that's sure to kick your butt when it comes to getting both hands up to speed, and trying different techniques.
Check out Guitar Aerobics by Troy Nelson. Have fun!