Recently, I've decided to get back into playing Thrash. I've a few songs already written. Problem is, I've not played at 150+ bpm's for awhile. Been taking it easier and I've let my "chops" slip.

So, what are some speed and endurance exercises I can do to build up my finger strength again and keep my playing clean?
Finger strength isn't a factor in performance endurance. The most efficient way to maintain consistency in your playing is to relax, channeling only the energy you need to pick or fret a note.

Rather than prescribe anything akin to an endurance exercise, I'd recommend spending a few minutes at a time (5 to 10 should be enough for a short session) actively monitoring your movements and exertions when picking and fretting. Be in conscious control whenever you're practicing, and your body will internalize those behaviours as muscle memory.

With regards to your fretting hand, fret any note you like with any finger, and consistently pick that string at a relatively slow pace (one note per second is fine). As you pick, gradually relax your hand, minimizing the amount of effort exerted upon the fret. Once you hear some fret buzz, apply that little bit more conviction, and remember that amount of energy; you don't need to have superfluous finger strength to play a note.

(If you find that you're still tensing up a little, let your arms dangle by your side, and without exerting any deliberate effort, ''rest'' them in place on the guitar in a playing position; this is the sort of playing posture we're after. Having a straight back and relaxed shoulders will allow for easier breathing, too, allowing oxygen to be more readily channeled through your body and blood to flow more easily, relieving any inhibitions on your movements.)

Apply the same principle to each finger on different strings, and be sure to fret as close to the right of the fret as you can for the clearest note.

With regards to your picking hand, you'll want to channel all of your energy into the digits holding your pick - for most people, this is the thumb and index finger. The hand itself has no bearing on the conviction of a picked note, but the pick itself should be dedicated all the effort you need.
As with the previous exercise, you may pick any string, and any note on that string, but be sure to cover as many variations as you can once you have the basic idea down-pat. The idea is to pick slowly and consistently, being sure to relax, channeling all effort into your pick-holding digits, and seeing for yourself how little effort is needed to sound an articulated note with plenty of conviction - don't settle for a weak note, but also don't settle for driving your pick into the string like a runaway truck into a road barrier.
A quick ''flick'' or ''snap''-esque motion with less deliberate effort will sound more articulated than a cumbersome, deliberately aggressive pick stroke, so staying relaxed is imperative in allowing you to bounce off of the string.
Be sure to experiment with dynamics, too. You can have conviction in a note at lower volumes, too, but that comes down to applying the same principles while seeking out a threshold of pick attack for different purposes.

No particular exercise will be beneficial to you in building stamina or endurance. As I'll say to anybody, an exercise itself is not a remedy for a problem, but the mindset you adopt when using those exercises, and how you go about them, will have an impact on your playing.
Last edited by juckfush at Dec 13, 2012,