When I picked up the guitar in October I found this online course on Ebay: How I Got Killer Chops While Still in High School. I decided that I'd practice at least half an hour every night before learning songs or just noodling on the guitar. It basically consists of great exercises for alernate picking, hammer-ons / hammer-offs, finger stretching, tapping, scales, etc. Basically you start on the high E and do 1,2,3,4 , then 2,3,4,5 etc until you get to the 12th fret, then work your way back, all by using a metrnonome and timing yourself to track your progress in a Student Log. It beats the crap out of my fingers but I see progress all the time. Alternate picking is second nature to me now. I used to only use down picks, which limits your ability to do quick solos. I also had a hard time with pull-offs at first when I'd move to the lower strigs working up the strings from the high E, but now I can do pull-offs on every string and actually get notes!
I hope I keep this ritual because it'll help me progress a lot faster.
OK back to practicing.