Does Playing Guitar Strengthen Your Hands? Answered

Does Playing Guitar Strengthen Your Hands? Answered | integraudio.com

This article will discuss whether playing the guitar can make our hands stronger. In addition, we will talk about different techniques, how to practice properly, and what things we should avoid so as not to suffer unnecessary pain.

Like many other instruments, the guitar demands that our hands develop coordination, elasticity, and strength to emit clear notes. For this, we demand the muscles and joints of our hands to execute movements and patterns that we are often not used to if we have never played an instrument before.

By starting to require our hands to execute these new movements, over time and with the frequency that we do it, we begin to notice that our brain gradually begins to memorize and incorporate these movements. But at first, it takes our hands some time to get used to it.

Does Playing Guitar Strengthen Your Hands?

Playing guitar definitely makes our hands stronger. It makes us gain strength in the fingers and the muscles of the palm, and it also puts the wrist and forearm muscles to work. With constant practice we gain the coordination and speed necessary to play guitar.

When we are learning to play the guitar or have been doing it for some time, we demand that our hands generate pressure, with sustained tension, to play the notes. We make our fingers move quickly and repeatedly in specific patterns to form chords. We keep our wrist semi-rigid and move it in an almost automated way to strum the strings.

All these patterns we perform repeatedly are training, and like any muscle in our body, the more we train it, the better performance we will get from it. This will become information that our brain will store, and our hands will perform more and more easily, becoming more harmonious and natural as we master it.

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What Guitar Techniques Are Best To Gain Strength?

Bending and shredding are the techniques that require our hands the most. Therefore they are the ones that will strengthen us the most. Each technique demands a different level of speed and coordination, and the more techniques we master, the greater the strength and skill we will acquire.

Guitar Techniques:

  • Bending: With this technique, what we are looking for is to stretch a guitar string to increase its tension, and when it vibrates, it emits a higher note. The guitar strings can be hard for us, especially if they are made of steel. Therefore, to stretch a string, we must apply a lot of pressure, pushing with two or even three fingers to facilitate the work. All this by applying just the right amount of force to sound a specific note. Bending is widely used in styles such as rock and blues.
  • Shredding: This technique involves playing legato scales quickly, ascending or descending. Legato is a series of musical notes played without interruption, with highly automated movements. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most complex techniques since it takes a long time and practice to ensure that our hands can execute it accurately. Nevertheless, it is widely used in metal or hard rock genres.
  • Vibrato: It is similar to bending, with the difference that instead of stretching the string to reach a higher note, we make the note oscillate so that it generates the sensation that it is vibrating. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to apply little pressure on the string and tense the hand, making a slight, very short, and continuous movement as if our hand was shaking. Vibrato is widely used in different styles but mainly in rock music.
  • Slide: This technique is widely used in many different styles due to its simplicity and effectiveness. It is about sliding our fingers along one or more strings forwards or backward on the fingerboard after making them sound. This creates a feeling that the note is traveling from one place to another and adds expressiveness to the sound.
  • Tapping: It consists of stepping on the fretboard notes with both hands as if you were playing piano. We must hit the notes with enough strength to sound on their own since we cannot use a pick to pluck the strings in this case. If we do this with speed and precision, we generate a striking effect. In this situation, the hands must develop a lot of coordination.

How Long Should We Practice To Strengthen Our Hands?

A month of practice is enough for our hands to begin to strengthen. At first, we will feel some pain, especially in the tips of our fingers that are not used to plucking strings, which are usually somewhat hard. However, we will get used to it after a few days, and the pain will go away.

Every minute, every hour, and every session will be beneficial in gaining strength and improving. Although people have different learning times (some advance very quickly, and others take a little longer), the more we practice, the more we will advance. This is the same for everyone. A good way to monitor our progress is by recording ourselves from time to time to see how far we have progressed throughout the process.

On average, if we practice regularly, it will take between two weeks and a month and a half to master basic things, six months and a year to master an intermediate level, and between a few and many years to reach advanced levels. There are no clear limits. It depends on our ability and will.

On the other hand, if we practice for a short time and then abandon it, we won’t give our hands time to strengthen or our brain to incorporate it, and it will cost us the same effort to resume the rhythm we had acquired. We will surely have to go through that stage of pain in our hands again.

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How Much Strength Do We Need To Play Guitar Properly?

We only need a little strength to play the guitar. However, we need that strength to be oriented to accurately press the strings, move the fingers with good speed, and make movements with the required accuracy. Pressing the thumb against the back of the fretboard requires constant pressure.

The hand we use to sound the strings should develop the strength and rigidity to strum. If we play with a pick, we must accustom our fingers to hold it steady, but at the same time to have the ease to go up and down repeatedly, and if we play arpeggios, each of our fingers will sound different notes.

All these almost perfect mechanical movements are developed thanks to the strength that our hands gain with practice. That is why strength plays a fundamental role in playing the guitar, and it will be set in pursuit of mastering precision, coordination, and speed.

What To Do To Avoid Pain From Playing Guitar?

We must avoid movements or postures that cause us pain for a long time. It is normal that, at first, we feel some pain because we are not used to it. But if the pain is prolonged, we must improve our technique, and make the necessary corrections to avoid it.

When making bar chords, we must place our index finger to cover the six strings, as if we were forming a new nut to move wherever we want to reach different keys. At first, it can be difficult because of the amount of pressure we have to apply to make the strings sound constantly, but as we gain strength, we will master it. Of course, it will also be painful at first, and then our hands will get used to it.

Some speed exercises can cause fatigue in our fingers after practicing for long periods and even numb them. The fingertips are the first thing we will begin to feel sore due to blisters, a product of stepping on the strings for long periods. In response, calluses will form, and we will no longer feel pain.

Doing a little warm-up or stretching your fingers before you start playing is always good. We must only demand our hands as necessary. If we feel any pain or discomfort, it is best to interrupt the practice and rest until we recover.

Some musical styles are more demanding than others and require greater technique and skill. Therefore, it is natural that learning more complex styles will be more difficult and will require more time. This makes it very important that we pay attention to doing things correctly so as not to suffer injuries or feel unnecessary pain during the process.

What Other Instruments Strengthen Our Hands?

In addition to the guitar, constant practice of instruments such as the piano, saxophone, and percussion sets will strengthen your hands over time. Each of them has different demands, and they make your hands develop specific skills when you start learning them. Let’s take a look at this.

 
Piano
Saxophone
Percussion Sets
 

 

Strength

The strength we use is moderate and will be applied to maintain the tension of the fingers and wrists.
The strength will be applied to the speed with which we finger the notes.
Strength is oriented to achieve intermittent stiffness in the hands and wrists to execute precisely. We will also use the arms.
 

 

Coordination

It is necessary to develop a high level of coordination to play the piano correctly.
We need an intermediate to a high level to play correctly and perform mechanical movements.
Requires a high level of coordination, and it will be key to develop it to play at all levels.
 

 

Elasticity

Requires a medium amount of elasticity.
Elasticity will be required at a low level. Our hands are always in the same position, just moving our fingers.
Elasticity is important, but it plays a more secondary role in percussion so that the demand will be intermediate.
 

 

Rhythm & Tempo

It is important but not decisive when we are beginning to learn piano.
Demands a sense of rhythm and medium tempo. It is common to use an external reference.
It is the fundamental pillar, and the demand will be very high. This is because this instrument is the rhythm reference for all other instruments.
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Conclusion

Regular guitar practice, as well as other instruments, can definitely increase the strength, coordination, and precision of our hands. The more we focus on this goal, the more we will advance.

Taking into account some considerations that will avoid injuries and muscle pain, we can make learning a fluid process that will bring out the best in us.

I hope this article has been useful in clearing some doubts about it. Thanks for your time!

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