Strengthen your fingers with these 3 Basic Exercises Beginner, (intermediate and advanced guitar lesson)
Whether you are a seasoned guitarist or a beginner starting from scratch, you always need to keep working with finger strength and build up dexterity with both left hand and right hand technique, especially left hand fingering. If you want to be proficient and execute lines with proficiency you need to exercise your fingers the same way an athlete or a marathon runner that works out to keep in shape. You work out to maintain or build muscle. The same goes for your left hand fingers, you need to practice and warm up with etudes and chromatic exercises that will do that for you. The newbie guitarist can definitely benefit from performing these studies and the intermediate and advanced player can use them to keep their technique and finger strength in check. It is important to try to play them every day or at least 5 days a week. You can take 2 days off and give your fingers a rest, but any more than that, can set you back to the beginning and you lose your speed that you built up with the metronome. Even if you neglect these exercises for a month because you don’t have time to practice or you need to work on other aspects of your guitar playing. It shouldn’t take you long to build up to where you once were. If you internalized and memorized the exercise studies all you have to worry about finger muscle memory. Not having to relearn the pattern allows you to get right back into it and they are fairly easy to memorize. Start with a slow warm up tempo then gradually work your way up to a faster tempo and stay there for a while until you can bring the exercise up to an even faster pace. Even if you haven’t practiced the exercise for a month you should be able to recall the correct passage of notes from memory. If you can’t do this, please try to commit it to memory, it will make life easier for you. This way you can concentrate on playing in time and at the correct tempo. If you are thinking about the notes or looking at sheet music you are giving your mind extra work. Not having to think about the notes will relieve the mind of any mental stresses and allow you to work and concentrate on the task at hand, (speed and technique).
Exercise 1 is a chromatic study and involves all 4 fingers. This example is a pretty common one with most guitar players and is a must to learn for the beginner
Exercise 2 works on strengthening finger groups 1 & 2, 2 & 3, 3 & 4. The weakest finger is the ring finger so spend some time warming up and practicing with these 2 finger groups 2 & 3 and 3 & 4. At least 10 to 15 minutes a day.
The Weakest finger
As mentioned above the ring finger is the weakest finger out of the 4 fingers you use to play the guitar. It should be exercised on a daily basis to build up strength. To illustrate how weak the ring finger is, simply test each finger by lifting it up and hold each finger up on its own. You will notice that this can be very easily done with the 1st, 2nd, and 4th finger. The 3rd finger can be very difficult to raise and might need some support in lifting it up. The ring finger is usually the culprit that stops and hinders a passage when played at a faster or upbeat tempo. Exercise 3 will help stretch and build strength and dexterity with your ring finger. This exercise gets easier to play past the 5th fret because of the fret size is not as wide. Between 1st and the 5th fret the size is much wider which will give your ring finger a wider stretch. Start off slow with this one and build it up to a faster tempo gradually. These exercises are excellent for beginners and can be useful for intermediate and advanced guitarists. Remember, they are not designed to help you with your speed technique or to play fast lines. These are just exercises to get your fingers stronger. For now these exercises are a prerequisite to getting to the next level, which is technique and speed. Speed comes with working on left and right hand technique together and incorporating different picking styles such as alternate picking and sweep picking. I will cover technique and speed in another lesson article.
Hand grip Exercises
One more thing that might help to build strong fingers is a hand grip devise that has built in weights or added tension. These are normally used for people that are in rehab and recovering from a hand injury and need to build up their hand strength that was weakened due to an accident. If your hands are healthy and strong I don’t recommend getting a hand grip devise with heavy weights. Your fingers are not meant to press down or lift heavy things. I recommend you buy a product that is specially designed for musicians and can work out both your grip and individual finger digits. The Grip Master is great for this and can be used to work out the ring and pinky finger together. If you have a normal sized or average hand, I recommend you buy the one with extra light tension. Anything heavier than that can lead to other injuries or problems with your hand that as guitarists you would like to avoid. You can purchase this particular model from our Amazon associated links: Grip Master. Watch the video demonstration below on how to use the Grip Master.