Everything A Guitarist Should Know About Hand Strength
There comes a point for every new guitarist when they discover the true importance of hand strength. It’s just one of those things guitar players know. You’ll notice that it isn’t always easy to hit all the right notes as quickly, accurately, or fluidly as you would like. Not only that, but you’ll likely feel a soreness in your fingers accompanied by eventual calluses and possibly blisters if you push yourself too hard. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad player or that you’re not capable of playing the kind of songs you’ve always dreamed of playing. It’s actually common for almost all guitar players to have their finger strength tested sooner or later. All it means is that the muscles in your hands need a little exercise.
Why Hand Strength Is So Important
If you’re just recently getting into guitar or simply looking to take your skills to the next level, you may be wondering what it takes to have the skills you’ve always dreamed of having. To be sure, there are plenty of things to learn when it comes to playing guitar. Theory, technique, and memory are all important, but keep in mind that the physical shape of your hands is pretty important too.
Whether you’re learning guitar, bass, or really any instrument that requires serious skill with your fingers, hand strength is an important part of moving past the beginner’s stage. By now, your hands are already used to moving a certain way to perform the kind of everyday tasks you use them for. When learning an instrument like guitar, you’ll often need to move your hands, especially your wrists and fingers, in ways that you probably wouldn’t ever move them otherwise. Certain chords, scales, and riffs will feel awkward when you first try them, and there will definitely be a learning curve regarding the condition of your hands. The good news is that your hands will strengthen over time, and you will get better at hitting notes that once seemed too far out of reach.
Techniques & Advice For Improving Hand Strength
Dedication Is Essential
As you probably already know, learning to play an instrument well takes consistent practice over a significant amount of time. The nice thing about guitar is that the more you practice, the more exercise you’re giving your hands and fingers in the process. It’s not the only thing you should do to improve your strength, but it’s worth noting that practicing is an important part of the process. Eventually, you’ll find your muscle memory improving, you’ll feel your fingers getting stronger and more maneuverable, and songs that once seemed impossible to play are becoming easier. Effective practice alone can do a lot, but there are a few extra tips that can make the process easier and give you a bit of an early advantage while playing.
Remember To Stretch
Like any form of exercise, stretching allows you to loosen up your muscles before applying stress. It’s an enormous help with flexibility and for the condition of your muscles in general. Pre-practice stretches can really help with hitting the right notes in a song that’s giving you a challenge. In time, your flexibility and reach should increase and you should also obtain a bit more strength.
Before each practice, start off by doing a few minutes of hand and wrist stretches. There are plenty of ways to do this, so feel free to try as many as you like. To keep things simple, you can start with just these two for your fingers and wrists.
1. Pull back each finger as far as you can without making yourself uncomfortable and hold it for about ten seconds.
2. For your wrists, press both of your hands together and hold them at about chest level. Then, start moving your elbows up and down with your hands still together so that your wrist gets a good workout.
You only need to do these a few minutes before each practice to give yourself a decent advantage. Be sure to avoid making yourself uncomfortable at any point, as this is not only detrimental to your playing ability but can also make your muscles uncomfortably sore.
Use Grippers And Hand Exercises Carefully
While they may seem ideal, hand-specific exercises have their ups and downs. On the one hand, it makes building hand strength quicker and more effective, but it can also negatively impact your playing when done the wrong way. For example, grippers can be great for strengthening your finger and wrist muscles, but they also tend to make them much more rigid. Because you’re repeating the same motions over and over again to build strength, your muscles get locked into a certain condition which can actually make them less flexible. That’s not to say that hand exercise is all bad, just that it’s a balancing act.
One exercise that works well without overly stiffening your muscles is to simply close and open your hand as far out as you can. You can start out slow, but try to do it as quickly as you can without taxing yourself. Once you get going, you’ll start to feel it in your arm muscles as well. This is fine, just be sure not to push yourself too far if you start to feel sore. Also, remember that you’ll be giving your hand a workout while practicing guitar. You should give yourself a significant length of time between hand exercise and practice, particularly if you’re doing both each day. You don’t want one activity to wear your hands out for the other.
Sharpen Your Guitar Skills
Like any instrument, learning the guitar isn’t exactly easy, but the reward is well worth the time and effort you put in. You may start off struggling with certain chords or scales, but the day you finally master them is a memorably gratifying experience. Of all the reasons there are to learn an instrument, guitar encompasses them all. It’s a skill that can make you a better person in more ways than you might imagine, including the simple fact that you can make music on your own.
At Grace Music School, our approach is to customize each lesson to where the student is at and to provide a nurturing and encouraging environment to grow in. We know that everyone has the potential to be a better musician, and the best way to unleash that potential is to simply lead it down the right path. Among our many programs, we offer guitar lessons for students of all ages. Please feel free to contact us for more information and get you or your child enrolled in lessons today!