Strengthen Your Hands

Some exercises from other people, and some that I've made up. All in all, this lesson strengthens your hands.

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Ultimate Guitar
Strengthen Your Hands
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Everyone who has ever touched a guitar has seen the same old exersices before. I'm not going to repeat old news, cause you dont need to know it for the millionth time. So these lessions go beyond the normal practice routine and into the world of vigerous practice. I'm wrinting this lession from the perspective of how I play it so here it goes.

Play all exersices to a metronome and evenly space the notes, it doesnt matter the speed! Remember accuracy is more important than speed and day. Exericises (a, b, c, d, e, f) are my basic examples that I will use for references. as the lession progresses, I will simply add little things that will strengthen your hand in a different way. I have 3 main changes that I use that I will show you in this lession, for each change I will give an example using "Exercise a", keep in mind the 3rd example is mainly for your picking hand, but keep the same form in your fretting hand. 
a) - use your index and middle finger only.
|---------------------------1-2-1----------------------------------|
|----------------------1-2--------2-1------------------------------|
|-----------------1-2------------------2-1-------------------------|
|------------1-2----------------------------2-1--------------------|
|-------1-2--------------------------------------2-1---------------|
| -1-2-------------------------------------------------2-1---------|

b) - use your middle and ring finger only.
|---------------------------2-3-2----------------------------------|
|----------------------2-3---------3-2-----------------------------|
|-----------------2-3-------------------3-2------------------------|
|------------2-3-----------------------------3-2-------------------|
|-------2-3---------------------------------------3-2--------------|
| -2-3--------------------------------------------------3-2--------|

c) - use your ring anf pinky finger only.
|---------------------------3-4-3----------------------------------|
|----------------------3-4---------4-3-----------------------------|
|-----------------3-4-------------------4-3------------------------|
|------------3-4-----------------------------4-3-------------------|
|-------3-4---------------------------------------4-3--------------|
| -3-4--------------------------------------------------4-3--------|

d) -use your index and ring finger only.
|---------------------------1-3-1----------------------------------|
|----------------------1-3---------3-1-----------------------------|
|-----------------1-3-------------------3-1------------------------|
|------------1-3-----------------------------3-1-------------------|
|-------1-3---------------------------------------3-1--------------|
| -1-3--------------------------------------------------3-1--------|

f) - use your middle and pinky finger only.
|---------------------------2-4-2----------------------------------|
|----------------------2-4---------4-2-----------------------------|
|-----------------2-4-------------------4-2------------------------|
|------------2-4-----------------------------4-2-------------------|
|-------2-4---------------------------------------4-2--------------|
| -2-4--------------------------------------------------4-2--------|
Alright now for the first change.Basically I'm just hammering on each note accending, and using pull-offs for thedecending. apply this example to each base exercise then continue to the next change. 
|---------------------------1h2p1----------------------------------|
|----------------------1h2--------2p1------------------------------|
|-----------------1h2------------------2p1-------------------------|
|------------1h2----------------------------2p1--------------------|
|-------1h2--------------------------------------2p1---------------|
| -1h2-------------------------------------------------2p1---------|
The second change will be simple but willtake some getting used to for beinggers. Basically each string accending will have a hammer-on and a pull-off, this will be especially difficult for a week or two for your forgotten finger, (your pinky). here's how to apply it.

(slight change) ******
|-----------------------------------------------1h2p1-2p1h2--|
|--------------------------------------1h2p1-----------------|
|-----------------------------1h2p1--------------------------|
|--------------------1h2p1-----------------------------------|
|-----------1h2p1--------------------------------------------|
|--1h2p1-----------------------------------------------------|

|------------------------------------------------------------|
|--2p1h2-----------------------------------------------------|
|-----------2p1h2----2p1h2-----------------------------------|
|-----------------------------2p1h2--------------------------|
|--------------------------------------2p1h2-----------------|
|-----------------------------------------------2p1h2--------|
Now if you cant peform pinch harmonics, just skp this part of the lession and practice the parts you do understand a little more. Basically just play a pinch harmonic for each note, its supprysingly hard to keep a pinch harmonic ringing with your pinky, but you will get the hang of it. Also a pinch harmonic tip:

if you get stuck on a certain harmonic, than your probly picking it in the wrong spot, try picking it closer to the bridge or closer to the neck, just mess around with them until you get a harmonic everywhere on command.

Some more pointers for this little lession:

1) Do not bar anything in this lession, and this is very important in building each fingers strength up, because the finger peforming the hammer-ons and the pull-offs is not the only finger that is being worked! it takes strength to frett the root note.

2) Make sure that everynote that is touched upon rings clearly, and I mean everything! The ones you hammer on are as important as the ones that you just plain old strike.

3) Most people who actually attemp this lession will do fine with all the fingering except for the pinky, if you have trouble with any one thing more than another thing, play it more than the easier ones, this will equal out your hand strength so that you will have 4 strong fingers, instead of 1 or 2 useless fingers an two good ones.

4) Move the patterns everywhere on the neck, these are just basic "shapes" for these exercises, in order to incorperate this into your playing, you need to do this everywhere on the frettboard, because it takes different strength to play it in different areas on the frettboard.

5) Buy a metronome and use it! They are one of the most useful tools you can own if you play music.

208 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    battleofla
    Peter Shilton, the old england goalie, used to squeeze tennis balls to keep his fingers strong, the same applys for guitar. So give your balls a squeeze. *p.s. the article is good*
    IsayNI
    ya ive been playin for a little over a year and ive never actually done "exercises"... so this is new to me but i think i might try it... i think just playing songs often is the best way to practice and continually progress to harder songs and once you get really good you start redoing songs and making your own... but i will still try this whole strengthening stuff... so ya umm cool
    jehovas
    Thx.. I'm gonna' practise this everyday My ring/pinky is retarded.. haha I didn't know that actually.. it doesn't seem to work =)
    heggazz
    yeah and i liked the stuff about pinch harmonics ill try to incorperate that into my warm up
    Losergoth
    Thanks! This lesson helped me a lot. I normally just play solos, but this actually helped me with chords. But maybe you should use spell check next time.
    guitarist163
    Great article, I've been playing for a little over a year, and in the past all I did to practise was play songs and a few scales, but now I'm trying to do finger excersises and that. I havn't seen these excersises before, they'll be helpful, thanks.
    Misfit66
    good leeson dude, had 2 modify it a bit thou, cauz i play bass, but other wise it was good, printed off the worm-ups also getting a stress ball helps, u can just sit there watching tv and u jus mush it around, does wonders for ya hand
    Jimmy_13
    very good! I wanted to be quicker whith the fingers, and this helps! It sounds pretty cool when this is being played. (Sorry for my bad english!)
    KENZI
    good lesson, when i really try and play it fast i can feel it getting harder to play, thanks for the ace lesson.
    john15
    very good lesson....i too have been paying for about a year now and thought my hand works fine...but i was wrong...keep up the good work.
    Sanity
    Thanks,that was a very good lesten,i've only just realised how weak my pinky is!
    TToe
    Newbie Rocker wrote: Yeah I like the article but another suggestion would be to practice bends in your workout, Play the 9th fret on any string and try to bend the 7th fret to match the pitch of the ninth fret and so on bending will also help to build caluses. But the article is good.
    Bending behind the nut is an easy way to build calluses ,but you have to be careful about damaging the nut.
    jrnjd
    I think this will help a lot. Ive only been playing for 10 mos and my pinky is not very strong. It will help with my pinch harmonics also. Good stuff dude!
    Iron_Beast
    my three first fingers is a bit fast, but when i tried my pinky....hahha, its so slow. practise. great lesson
    Newbie Rocker
    Yeah I like the article but another suggestion would be to practice bends in your workout, Play the 9th fret on any string and try to bend the 7th fret to match the pitch of the ninth fret and so on bending will also help to build caluses. But the article is good.
    Kabella
    It's special ed lessons for your pinky!!! haha, seriously, It's a nice lesson. Very basic, but incredibly useful. My pinky thanks you
    bigal
    I been playin for over a year n I thought all my fingers were pretty good.... then I did this and realized my pinky is retarded!!!
    ibanezza
    ^ Nice one. Good article, I thought I was good at guitar, then I tried Exercise C... Just goes to show how much I need to practice...