How long does it take you to warm up?

It just struck me today that it takes ages for me to warm up. “Warm up” for me means “get to a state where I can play what I was able to play yesterday”.

I timed it today, and I spent a good 15min just on warming up. For me, I don’t think it’s anything to do with getting my joints moving - it seems more like it’s getting the neural connections brain<->fingers used a bit. This seems to have the effect of neurologically “lubricating” them. Before I do this, there is a huge delay between instructing a finger to move, and it actually starting to move. :rofl:

There’s probably an age component in there - perhaps it wouldn’t take a younger person so long.

Curious to know other people’s experiences.

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I’ve not timed it, but have a similar start to my ‘playing day’.

I use this time in one of two ways now. Sometimes I’ll start with a completely cold play through of a song I’m working on, perhaps for the OM. The point here being to practice the situation where someone hands you a guitar and says ‘play something!’ and you can’t really warm up.
Secondly I’ll use this time for my really slow focused practice - often technique - where slower is better and my mind is fresh. For example I’m working on picking technique and muting.
Once I’m done with these things, I’m pretty much warmed up - I may not be playing much better, but I have no excuses any more :slight_smile:

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Between 15 and 30 minutes and 50 years old now…it depends on too much and varies from day to day to go into details…
I also realize that I am in a luxurious position because there are many people who do not even have 30 minutes of time to play every day… very occasionally, fortunately, I do not get past the warm-up time and go do something else,

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What I usually do is do chromatic intervals one finger per fret up and down the fretboard moving up one fret at a time and follow up with the same but string skipping forwards and backwards filling in the strings I missed out on the forward direction.
I don’t really measure how long it takes, it varies by how I feel and how my hands feel when I’ve completed it.

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Having in mind that Pat Metheny warms up for two hours, 15 minutes seems like not a lot :innocent:


I hear you, Phil, I always start a daily practise routine with a simple 1-4-5 song :musical_note: ; one that I know well, and always with finger-picking to get the old digits moving.

I picked up my guitar last night after almost a month away; out in the boondoggle where taking it with me was really not practicable. It took about an hour to put sections of a song together, albeit with some hesitations and mistakes in places, but happy at the end of it. I had to stop because the strings were starting to feel like cheesewire after such a long break… :upside_down_face:

Today and tomorrow will be better, I know … :crossed_fingers:

For me it helps to manage expectations: I’m now 4yrs into playing this month. A general “rule of thumb” for me is about 10 mins, plus 10 mins for every day that I miss my practice session. Hence missing a month will take a few days of practice sessions to get back to where I left off, and that’s ok.

But … there are always some periods, for reasons various, where progress can ‘plateau’ and it’s just a case working through it, knowing things will improve.

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Hi Phil,
The last thing I played yesterday in the last bit was Yesterday and I started it today as a warm-up for both hands with Yesterday (no kidding :smile:), but if I play Yesterday quite okay as a starter, does it still count as a warm-up? I play Yesterday a lot ,and yesterday I played a lot too … :sunglasses:

Greetings ,sorry and now I start playing in the garden ,it is very nice here :blush: :sun_with_face:


10 to 15 minutes normally.

Hand and finger stretches.
Chromatic “scales” of 4 frets, start at 7th fret and work back to nut and the wider frets E to e to E. Horizontal 4 fret chromatics, from 5th fret start finish pinkie on 12th back to 5th (index). E to e.
Finger stretch exercise 1-23-4 e to E to e starting at 9th fret and working towards nut.
All stretching done slowly.
Run through all know chords, open, power and barre (E and A shape). Separate work out for triads in my practice schedule, so not part of warm up.

First routine after warm up is picking exercises, so I treat this as a semi warm up as well, before the more technical stuff.

Hope that helps.


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I’m 72. I don’t even think of playing or practicing in the early morning. Same with driving. After I’ve been up for a few hours then the brain cells stabilize. Mid-afternoon works best for me. By evening my motor skills are diminishing so I just practice strumming with my left hand idle.


To get playing? Probably about 20 - 30 minutes. To get into faster territory? Some nights it can take me an hour before things get really fluid. Also depends on the weather. I never push my luck when it’s cold.

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Well Phil,
For me, that don’t always work out. Some days I just find I ain’t feeling it. Them days, how long I warm up is irrelevant. I just won’t get it on that particular day as I just ain’t feeling ‘music’.

Other than that.
My warm up is pretty erratic. Which is probably not the greatest way to warm up.

I usually start by playing a couple of chords, G and C seem most played.
I like C as for me, I’m checking tuning for the 1st strum of the day. If C don’t sound right, I gotta tune up first. I’m always pleasantly surprised if my guitar is mostly in tune. Some days it is, some days it’s not.
Then I’ll perhaps play a maj. scale or two. Play that in a couple of positions along the neck. Maybe play them in modes. Not that I understand modes, but that’s what I think I’m doing. While I’m doing this, I ‘may’ be trying to think of the notes in said scale as I’m still trying to learn the notes on all the strings no matter where I’m playing them at. I’ve not succeeded at this as of yet, but I keep trying.

After that I seem to usually progress to playing some bits and pieces of a song I think I know.
All this usually takes me perhaps 10 or 15 min.
Then I figure I’m ready to do whatever it is I’m wanting to do that day. Which sometimes, ain’t to much… :wink:

For me, it seems that most days, I usually just pickup where I left off yesterday. My fingers seem to always work like they did yesterday and playing don’t feel any different than it did yesterday. I usually play everyday, but not always.
On them days that I ain’t feeling so musical, I may never even get past warm up and just not play that day short of the warm up that didn’t work out. Some days I just don’t feel like playing, but that don’t usually go on more than one day, maybe 2, but usually just one day.

Good topic Phil!

I generally find that if I have a goal in mind. Like a song I’m trying to do, I will play better that day, but not always.

I think I’m pretty erratic in my warm up. It’s not a schedule type thing that I do.

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Can say 60 years? (I’m a 50-something so hoping that I’m just not warmed up yet) :joy:

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My more serious answer is a few minutes. I’ll caveat that by saying that I don’t play anything wildly complex. I’m used to picking my guitar up for a few minutes at a time, that’s often how I practice on days when I’m pinched for time, 3 minutes here, 5 minutes there. I suppose because I’m typing at a computer my fingers are always moving

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Interesting topic.

I don’t usually need more than a few moments of physical warm up unless it is mid-winter and my hands are stiff from being cold. This is only about 2 months out of the year for me. Time for this is just whatever time it takes to hold a cup of tea and wiggle fingers into fluid motion, probably 2-3 minutes.

Mentally, I need just need 3-5 minutes of quiet to get started, but then I will drift off after about 20 minutes and start making mistakes that I would not have made at 5 minutes. Many days, my wife decides that she will talk to me every 90 seconds which keeps me from “getting into the zone”. I also keep a guitar behind my (work) office chair so I can grab it for 2-3 minutes when I need to wait for something. This doesn’t give me any real moment for mental warmup.

I have complained for a while now that the modern workplace has destroyed any hope of concentration. Interrupts are frequent and even IT departments are installing software to stop you from working every few minutes with the excuse of saving you from physical problems. I suspect my mental fade is more from familiarity with interruptions than it is from age.


I do something similar as warm up/technique, together with hammer ons, picking efficiency, etc.


I know what you mean about getting mentally ready and the problem with staying in the zone. I frequently see the same pattern of getting going quite quickly but starting to get sloppy again after 15-20 minutes (some days are better than others). I can’t imagine doing a 2 hour practice session! My guitar is within reach of my desk also so I grab those mini practices too.

I think there’s a lot of truth in what you say about modern working practices, with emails and MS Teams constantly breaking concentration

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Jeez, some of the ’warm ups’ here I’d call practice routines!

I don’t understand what you mean by warm up.
I don’t need to warm my hands up before I play guitar - unless they’re cold - in which case playing guitar isn’t going to warm them up. I warm them up beforehand.
Warm the mind up maybe, to get it into the right frame. That doesn’t always happen though, depending on what else the cells are mulling over, or if I’m tired.
I tune the guitar and go straight into whatever I’ve decided to practice first. My mind either tunes in or it doesn’t. It usually does…but if it doesn’t…well, it’s just one of those days!

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If I practiced the day before, it only takes me 5 minutes to warm up.

If I took 2 or more days off (like over the weekend), my next practice often shows a small loss of performance, but I’m back to normal again the next day.

Sometimes (luckily rarely), I’ll just have a bad practice where nothing seems to work well.

I find I play better in late morning or afternoon vs the earlier morning. I usually try to do the simple scales I know to start and sometimes follow with finger spiders. I generally start with an easier song when I get to playing.

I’d call that practicing. Playing and practicing are two totally different things. Practicing is where you learn what you don’t know. Playing is what you do know.
So if you have to practice what you where playing the day before that just means you haven’t learnt it yet. Try playing some song you enjoy playing then you won’t waist 15 minutes of your practice time getting ready to practice.

I could never understand the concept of warming up. As soon as I pick up my guitar I’m are either practicing or playing.

I have to agree with David on this.