Increasing Speed by Sustaining Bursts

Stuck at the same speed? Do this…

You know how you can burst into high speeds for a second or two, but then lose it?

This is something that drives some players crazy. They know they can play faster, but they can’t seem to be able to keep it up.

Here’s a simple way to make the speed gains stick:

Train yourself to be able to burst for longer and longer periods.

It doesn’t mean that your main max speed will be sustained at those burst speeds.

But it will bring your average up over time. Because you are conditioning your muscles to be able to do things it couldn’t do before.

Don’t force it. Just try to get a few extra notes or reps out of your bursts.

…And then a few more.

Here’s an example from one of my raw practice sessions (please excuse my poor timing, it was hard for me to hear the metronome without it causing microphone feedback):

By continuing to increase your Burst Duration, higher speeds become easier to reach and sustain.

Here’s a simple 5-Step process you can use to immediately put this into practice:

Choose something you are currently struggling to play up to speed (we’ll call this a Scenario. If you don’t have anything in particular in mind, then try this doozy on for size––it’s a helluva chop-builder and I’ve been using it since 2005!)

  1. Set a tempo to a BPM you are comfortable with (meaning, you can play it confidently without much effort, with minimal mistakes)
  1. Play it once at the current speed, and then “burst” into double the speed (If doubling the speed is too fast, then back the tempo down to the point where you can)
  1. While in the “burst” (double time), play as much of the Scenario as you can without mistakes
  1. Resume the baseline tempo, and whenever you’re ready, burst into double time again. With each burst into double time, attempt to play more and more of the Scenario
  1. Once you can play the entire Scenario at double time with minimal mistakes, attempt to repeat it (while in double time) as many times as you can (again, always aiming for minimum mistakes)

Give it a shot, film it, and share with me your results. I’ll give a shoutout and spotlight those who make the greatest gains on 💪

I’m stoked to see your progress.



P.S. Here is an additional speed-building resource that’s even more effective than this Burst Duration approach:

2 Replies to “Increasing Speed by Sustaining Bursts”

  1. I start at a lower tempo and break the scenario in to the three core parts. Learn all parts at a slower tempo and then hammer in the first part at the learning speed, then the transition part at a slightly slower part where I can transfer from the first picking part through the transfer part and then the final part until it’s all sounding smooth.

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