There is a growing interest these days, in high level performance, and how it is achieved, whether that be in sport, in fitness, in cognitive function or in business.
Everyone is looking for the best ways to study, train, invest and think, and of course, the most obvious place people start is with the aforementioned high achievers. What are they doing, and how can I do it too??
From high volume and high skill workout routines, to aggressive marketing strategies, everyone is looking to do what the champs are doing.
Many ambitious athletes and buddy businesspeople alike, have absolutely no problems with the concept of hard work, of the grind, busting your arse to get the work done and chase the rewards.
At the gym, or on the field, an hour of practice most days, turns into 2-3 hours of practice every day.
It often manifests in simply copying what the top dogs do, from their training programs, to their diets and supplement regimes.
But just like the old saying “practice does not make perfect, perfect practice does”, the quality of your work will always outweigh the amount of work.
Just show up is something we often say to our newer members.
And it’s certainly the first step when trying to establish a solid fitness habit. If you just walk in the door then we’ll take care of the rest.
We have the program sorted, we’ll help you figure out the weights to use and the rep scheme to choose. We’ll suggest the pace to work at, and make sure you’re getting the most out of the training.
But eventually, at some point, you have to do more than show up. Regular attendance is great, but just going through the motions sounds a lot like that ‘same thing, expecting results’ definition of insanity we talk about.
Deliberate or deep practice is a slightly more scientific term for perfect practice.
It consists of four elements:
1) It’s designed specifically to improve performance
2) It’s repeated a lot, with the skill often broken down into small chunks.
3) Feedback on results is continuously available
4) It’s highly demanding mentally, and usually not that enjoyable, because you are spending time working on your weaknesses.
Some elements of this practice include observing an experienced performer of the desired skill. This is very common within fitness competition, thanks to social media and the world class CrossFit Games coverage, we can now analyse every move that the top athletes make in both training and competition. Observing is very different to just outright emulating everything they do, so a very detached approach is necessary here.
Breaking down the skills into small chunks is a tried and tested method. From a new members first few sessions with us, they learn to snatch by learning a deadlift and then a sumo deadlift high pull, and then a dumbbell snatch, a hang muscle snatch, power snatch, overhead squat and so on, until all the requisite movements merge beautifully together just like Voltron.
And repetition is crucial, hence why it doesn’t matter how good you get, an Olympic Weightlifting session always starts with broomstick or at most empty barbell drills.
Feedback throughout class, ensures constant and consistent improvement. And just as perfect practice makes perfect, your coach will never be satisfied, always looking for little ways to help you get even better.
Constant practice isn’t that much fun sometimes. It often comes with a lot of failure and frustration.
A big part of getting past this lack of fun? Make the decision to have fun DESPITE the frustration.
There is a ton of fun to be had trying to get better at handstands, and squat snatches, even if you’re failing all the time, as long as your mind is set the right way.
An interesting thing about deliberate practice is that its effect is cumulative.
So you will benefit much better by accumulating multiple days of short practice, vs trying to do it all on one day sporadically.
What skill do you think you could get pretty good at, if you applied the concept of deep practice to it?
Start today, and let’s find out!