When we think about strength and conditioning, we often stop at strength training and cardio.
The acquisition and development of skills is often overlooked and as a result, the broader functional fitness community is missing a key part of a holistic fitness programme. A skill can broadly be defined as any movement, from lifting or raising a barbell to gymnastics, or movements such as running and swimming.
Skills take time to learn and develop to a level where they can be performed with intensity. Eager to get a sweat on and ending up out of breath – typically the hallmark of a successful workout – exercisers neglect taking time to practicing and refining movements as it’s seen as a wasted session.
Skill development should be the most important part of any workout program. The more skills you can do proficiently, the more variety of stresses you can place your body under. The more areas you can train and the greater adaptability your body will have to your workouts. The more you train, the more you CAN train.
Skill development can be broken down into three stages:
Learning the movement – generally the hardest and most tedious part of learning a skill.
Practicing the newly acquired skill over and over until you can do it consistently for multiple reps and sets.
Being able to do the movement under fatigue (muscular and cardiovascular) or with added load (in the case of barbell movements)
Once you can perform the movement with intensity you should be able to add it to your usual training sessions without sacrificing the overall intensity of them. Though it may take time, it’s worth it in the long run.