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> Increasing Stamina
Ben Higgins
post Nov 23 2014, 04:15 PM
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I thought my latest lesson would be a great starter to talk about stamina and how we can increase it.

Stamina is an essential ingredient to guitar playing if we want to be able to play for more than a few minutes at a time. It also comes into play during fast licks. Fingers can lose gas right in the middle of something and cramp up, leaving you frustrated at not only the lick not working but now your hand is too tired to do anything else. Damn you, lack of stamina ! mad.gif

I've recently taken up running, which is something I've never done before. I haven't run around for any length of time since my football days and we're talking the latter years of primary school ! So naturally, a lack of stamina was going to be a key issue here.

I started off doing a bit of mid paced jogging but only for about a minute or so. The next time, I pushed it a bit further. Next time, I did a longer distance but broke it up into mostly walking with a couple of bits of jogging thrown in.

Slowly I got used to doing a bit of jogging non stop. My pace is quite pedestrian. I can't keep up anything quick for any length of time. If I keep doing the distance I'm doing I'll get better and better at jogging that distance but if I want to seriously improve my pace I've got to push it. So I've got to do what I would call speed bursts in the guitar world. You athletic types will know it as interval training. Basically you mix up your slow and average pace with bursts of sprinting. That's a simplified explanation but it applies to guitar playing.

In order to increase our stamina we can play at a certain pace and increase the length of time ever other day. For example, in this Zakk Wylde style lesson, one might be able to keep up with that pace for a few bars. A few days later they might be able to do half the lesson. Then eventually they can play it all.

But what about increasing our pace in order to increase our stamina at higher levels ?

We can do speed bursts - our guitar equivalent to the runner's interval training.

So you could set up a click and take a particular lick. You could cycle that lick at 8th notes and after every 2 reps chuck in 2 bursts at 16th notes. Or 3 reps of 8th notes and 1 rep of 16th notes to keep it an equal 4 which you can cycle again and again until you get tired or you decide to increase the tempo.

You can also choose to rest completely in between reps.

Or do both. Try cycling slow and fast reps without stopping and then later try an increased number of fast reps but with pauses in between.

The whole idea is that we make ourselves work at a higher rate to slowly become accustomed to it. The rests in between where we either keep an easier pace or stop, allow you to 'take stock' and prepare for the next burst. If you just go at it hell for leather, you'll lose synch and tire yourself out.

That's probably the most logical and poular way of increasing stamina. Feel free to add your experiences with stamina building and share stories of breakthroughs that you had.


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Todd Simpson
post Nov 23 2014, 05:37 PM
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This is a GREAT point by Ben here. I've seen stamina issues wreck many an aspiring players motivation during the very tough first year of playing.

Having enough stamina in your hands, arms, fingers, to repeat a riff/scale enough to get a good handle on it is critical. If you "over exert" your hands, fingers, etc. during practice it will sap your stamina big time. This is why I discourage folks from using the "stiff arm" technique for faster picking. It requires a great deal more energy and static muscle tension and burns out the entire arm just way too fast.

Part of working on your stamina is figuring out the minimum force/energy required to make a given pick strike. You may have noticed that some players (ben and myself among others) manage to play briskly without looking like we are exerting ourselves. In fact, we are pacing ourselves in terms of energy use/muscle use. This is something that is good to work on very early. You can always just skip it and use brute force to pick and fret. That works too, but it reduces the amount of time you can play/practice so it's a bit counterproductive. Here is a quick vid smile.gif

*Notice that my arm/hand doesn't stiffen up like I'm about to power lift smile.gif That "gearing up" to shred is natural, but it's something that's worth fighting against.



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klasaine
post Nov 23 2014, 06:40 PM
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I ride a bicycle a few miles almost everyday. Up until 4 years ago I lived at the base of some hills and I would hike 3 or 4 times a week. As kid I played a lot of baseball and skateboarded. I also walked or rode a bike to school everyday.

Physical activity is IMO super important for your guitar playing mind as well as your guitar playing body. Not too mention I still eat pizza and drink beer probably twice a week. I regularly play guitar standing up for 3 hours straight.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Nov 23 2014, 06:41 PM


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Ben Higgins
post Nov 24 2014, 02:43 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Nov 23 2014, 06:40 PM) *
Physical activity is IMO super important for your guitar playing mind as well as your guitar playing body. Not too mention I still eat pizza and drink beer probably twice a week. I regularly play guitar standing up for 3 hours straight.


Yes, it's the regular exercise that lets you eat and drink these things with no negative effects. Balance.

It's as they say: healthy body, healthy mind.



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