06 Feb The Science of Getting Better (How We Improve Our Skills)


When you swing that kettlebell or lift that barbell, I want you to think about what I’m telling you right now.

First, here’s a training concept I discuss quite a bit.

Improve your skills, get better results.

Developing your skills is one of the keys to progression.

And, in regards to movement based training, as with kettlebell and barbell training, this is absolutely true.

But, how do we get continue to get better and consistently improve our skills and techniques?

It’s simple, we practice.

And, practice a lot.

But practice doesn’t make perfect.

Practice makes something called myelin.

There has been emerging science around this substance and it’s pretty amazing.

Myelin is the sheath (or insulation) around the nerve cells in our nervous system.

What exactly does this have to do with getting better?

Studies have shown that myelin grows as we increase our time spent in practice.

In other words, the more we practice a skill, a lift, or a movement pattern, the more myelin we make.

Every rep we do contributes to increased myelination within our nervous system.

And, as we make more myelin, the neurological signals travel faster.

This essentially means we develop a deeper skill set.

And, we get better at the skill we’re working on.

The only way to increase the process of building myelin is to practice the skill.

In the simplest terms, we have to embrace repetition to get better.

We know that to get better, we need to practice, but the science behind this is amazing.

Elite level athletes become elite through the habits of practice and now the science of myelin growth supports the benefits of practice for skill development.

What’s also interesting is that we can continue to add or grow myelin throughout our lives.

The net amount of myelin may peak somewhere around the age of 50, but it always continues to function and enhance our neural pathways, so we can keep learning and developing skills, no matter our age.

While the science and research is still in the early stages, there definitely appears to be strong links to myelin growth and peak performance.

So, the next time you press a kettlebell, squat, or perform a barbell clean, think about this:

  • You’re growing myelin with increased repetition (practice)
  • Myelin growth leads to skill development
  • Better skills mean better results

This is the science of getting better.

Now, let’s go swing, lift, squat, press and grow some myelin.

(For more information on this amazing topic, check out The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.)

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