Strength and Exercise Myth: Skills are Always Developed in a Sequence

Posted on 09 Jan 2014 18:24

Each exercise or strength related thing that you do is an individual skill. They, in and of themselves, are not "strength" but are a display of skill which shows specific strength. You put a bunch of these diverse skills together and you have something that can be called overall strength.

But each of these skills is made up of a sub-group of other skills. Movements or positions that are themselves fairly complex.

Let's say you want to do a handstand. The way most people would do this is to simply try a handstand. They would put their hands on the floor, throw their feet in the air, remain there for a second in a kind of handstand, and fall. Some of the more creative types might use a wall to put their feel against, thus providing some stability, and then try to wean themselves from the wall.

Either way, this would be an example of linear skill acquisition. Ok, I don't even know if that is a real term, I just made it up. But I think you get the point. The linear part is an increase in time as you continue to try to do a handstand. Each time you add just a little bit of time. It may be a microsecond. But eventually the microseconds add up and you are standing on your hands long enough for you to consider it a 'handstand'.

This can actually work. For some of the people some of the time. Depending on their base of conditioning and their boredom threshold.

A more efficient way of doing it would be to break the handstand down into a number of different components. Each of these skill components would be developed separately. You would, in effect, attack it from both ends, and as you try to move into the main skill a 'cross-training' effect occurs as each of these 'sub-routines' find their way into the complete skill.

So a handstand with your feet against the wall, since the wall is balancing you, might be endurance. Then attempts at free handstands might be considered balance. The problem is that when we find that a slightly more complicated way is better, we often think that an even more complicated way would be better yet. Many people might try to break it down into irreducible parts, therefore.

An extreme version of this is at work when people use body-part training to 'get strong'. Only they go too far and break the body down into a bunch of different parts instead of training 'functional-units.' The answer is to simply realize that you are TRAINING SKILLS OR MOVEMENTS not body parts or even body segments.

Note, before we move on, that by using the term functional-units I am in no way endorsing so-called functional training, or any such notion.

The most important thing to know is that finding the most efficient way to learn a skill does NOT mean finding the most convoluted and complicated way. But it does involve finding an efficient and sustainable way. The kind of knowledge it takes to learn and perform new movements more and more effortlessly involves a process of elimination rather than accumulation! This is something about learning that most people do not realize. That is, a great deal of it is getting rid of the excess bits that have cluttered the program. We want to whittle down what we do to that which is absolutely necessary. Everything else is just excess weight to carry around with you…pun intended.

For more articles related to strength training, sport, and exercise skills see the skills category.

This page created 09 Jan 2014 18:24
Last updated 29 Mar 2018 22:08

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