Ironically, one of the best ways to warm up for the guitar is to play it!
Below is the TAB (see "How to Read TAB") for an exercise that I have used for many years to prepare for gigs. It is just a simple chromatic warm up routine.
Chromatic Warm Up Exercise
In the above example, you start playing on the 1st fret of the 6th string with the 1st finger. Then play chromatically (one note right after the other with no spaces) using the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers.
Once you reach the end of the run on the 1st string, stay on the 1st string and slide up one fret to the 2nd fret, then do the whole run in reverse until you end that run back on the 6th string.
Use alternating pick strokes to help warm up the picking hand as well. (down, up, down, up, down, up etc.)
Keep progressing up the neck, one fret at a time, until you run out of room on the fretboard, or, until you run out of patience!
You can also mix things up by running things in reverse, starting with the 4th finger and descending. There are a number of ways you could change this up and make it your own. Do whatever works best for you.
The diagram below illustrates the chromatic exercise to make it easier to visualize.
Another thing you can do to help warm up your fingers is to just play through some songs or chord progressions. Just by going through a few chord changes and mixing it up between open chords and barre chords, you will find that in a very short amount of time you will be ready to rock and roll!
Always try to spend a few minutes warming up prior to playing. It will help develop you hand muscles and your fingers will thank you for it!
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