As a musician, I've always been interested in developing my skill level. But for a long time I wasted to much time and effort by not having a practice routine. One of my other hobbies - body building taught me a skill I didn't realize would become so powerful when applied to guitar playing skills until I tried it!
In body building, you often focus on one particular body part per exercise. These exercises our typically scheduled into a daily routine, that prescribes the number of sets and repetitions to complete per exercise and weight being trained. In body building, a typical training split would be something like the following:
Monday - Chest focus and Ab Focus
Tuesday - Quads, hamstring and Calves focus
Wednesday - Back Focus
Thursday - Shoulder Focus
Friday - Biceps, Triceps and Forearm focus
So as you can see, each part of the body is trained through the week. Now how does this relate to musicianship in guitar playing you ask? Well, mastery of guitar is really just like body building in the fact that you need to focus on a specific aspects of your playing to "train" that particular skill!
So looking at the types specific things we can train for guitar playing we can build a similar 'Guitar Playing Training Split'
Using a one hour time slot per day, here is an example of typical practice session I'd use maximize my guitar skill development!
Guitar Playing Training Split:
Warm Up - 5 minutes
Scales - 10 minutes
Example: Pick a key to focus your training hour on (C Major for example). Spend two minutes playing each mode of the scale with a metronome - (100 BPM for example) - rotate to the next mode every two minutes. Make note of which 5 of the 7 modes you were able to get through and pick up the next day with where you left off. Additionally, to maximize your progress, next time you practice try to increase the speed of the metronome by about 5 to 10 BPM
Sweep Picking - 10 minutes
Example: Play each inversion of the Major, and Minor 6 string arpeggio shapes for one minute and 30 seconds each with a metronome (100 BPM for example). Use the remaining 1 minute of practice time to try relate the arpeggio's location on the fretboard with in the scale positions you practiced previously. Additionally, to maximize your progress, next time you practice try to increase the speed of the metronome by about 5 to 10 BPM
Tapping - 5 minutes
Example: Spend one minute Tapping trough the pentatonic scale positions on one string up and down the neck (length wise) with a metronome (100 BPM for example).
Legato - 5 minutes
Example: Spend one minute playing legato trough the pentatonic scale positions on one string up and down the neck (length wise) with a metronome (100 BPM for example).
Chord Vocabulary - 5 minutes
Example: Spend the 5 minutes practicing changing between the typical 'cowboy' chords Am, C, and Dm with a metronome (100 BPM for example).
Improvisation - 10 minutes
Example: Find a backing track - preferably in the same key that you chose at the start of your training session (YouTube has plenty of backing tracks) and spend the 10 minutes improvising freely, but try to integrate the techniques you have been working on through out your session into your improve for maximum results!
So as you can see, by creating this Guitar Playing Training Split - you have quickly sharpened many aspects of your guitar playing skills in just one small hour! To even further maximize your result, another trick from body building can be used and is recommend: keep a practice journal. Much like body builders log their weight and reps for their training session - log your skills practiced, for how long and at what BPM you set the metronome! Then when you return to practice the next day - you can reference what you did and see if you can A) replicate the results and B) try to push the results a head (such as increasing speed on the metronome!
In conclusion by planning out and scheduling the specific skills you'd like to sharpen in your practice session, you an hone in and focus the attention need to maximize your guitar playing gains! Just a few minutes (5-10 minutes) focused on a specific skill will be much more productive than aimlessly playing or noodling on the guitar! Give a try and watch the results pile up!