In CrossFit there are numerous exercises and skills that are performed on a weekly basis. Every now and then, another exercise is added to the mainstream, increasing the size of the tool belt an athlete must possess.

How does one keep up with all these skills in both their increasing quantity and complexity?

To quote 2001 NBA MVP Allen Iverson, “We’re talkin about practice?”

When it comes to developing any experience in a physical task like an exercise used to workout there is a certain path anyone can take that moves them from not being able to perform that skill one time, to performing that skill numerous times in combination with other elements in one training session.

Whether an individuals goal’s are to improve their olympic weightlifting or gymnastic exercise or jumping rope, these principles apply to all the skills this individual may perform in class or their own training.

Learn the skill in isolation. Don’t expect your next double under workout to be your best one when you can now do 10 double unders in a row instead of 5. Don’t misunderstand, that is a great achievement but there are a few more steps that need to be taken before you should take that skill out for a ride in a full workout.

Learning the skill in isolation means working on that one thing alone with ample rest periods between every practice set and practice session. If you are working on your clean & jerk technique, it’s best to do when you are fresh both mentally and physically, and in a way that does not build up a lot of fatigue when performing each practice rep/set. Once you become highly confident in your ability to perform that skill very well in isolation, you can take the next step.

Begin to blend that skill into your training incrementally. To give a non-example, you learn how to do 100 double unders in a row for the first time, you then have double unders in your class workout the following day so you commit to doing all 300 of them because of the progress you made the day before. This is the equivalent of trying to drive a race car at race speed for the first time IN a professional race, rather than first learning how to even drive that car on an empty track. Blending your new skills means that you begin to add in one extra exercise here, cut a little bit of the rest there and slowly you now only learn how to do double unders, but you learn how to do double unders while tired and breathing heavier. Think of double unders (or anything for that matter) as one skill on its own, and doing double unders along with other exercises simultaneously, an entirely different skill that only moderately compares to the first.

Once you have the skill on its own, that’s step one, next you see how long that skill holds up when a second or third element gets introduced, once you’ve thrown a lot of elements at that skill and it continues to hold up, it’s time to take it for a spin.

The final step is to move your new skill that you have developed a lot of confidence and physical resistance in to the training floor. You’re ready to start using your skills to push other qualities of yours, like fitness. If you make some of the mistakes mentioned earlier, when it comes to trying to improve fitness, using skills before you are truly ready for them, you aren’t really pushing your fitness because your skillset is the limiting factor. Assuming you have gone through the proper steps in building up the skill in isolation and blending it into other things you are already quite good at, you’re ready to add that skill to your tool belt and go to work with it. Now that skill is another way you can make yourself more fit due to your high level of proficiency.

Learn the skill on its own–>Blend the skill with one or two things you’re VERY good at–>Take it to your full training with all the skills you currently do well.

Training is for fitness, not skills, meaning the only learning you should be doing is about pace, effort, and strategy.

Practice is for skills, not fitness, meaning the only learning you should be concerned with is the kind that improves that skill and your understanding of how to do that skill well.

If you’re serious about growing your skillset, set aside 5 minutes every day for practice, a little goes a long way.

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

-Vince Lombardi

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