Everyone has seen the Instagram posts of heavy snatches or ring muscle-ups with a caption that says something like “Finally! Been chasing this one for awhile…” This combination of exasperation and relief is palpable for anyone who has been tormented by a training plateau.
Athletes often get stuck at a specific skill level in training, and it can feel like they’re never going to make progress. This can look like attempting ring muscle-ups over and over — without being able to turn them over and actually catch in the dip. This could be loading up 225# on a snatch — and never quite being able to stick the receiving position. This could be trying to do chest-to-bar pull-ups or handstand push-ups in a workout — and completely blowing up every time.
Athletes and coaches on these training plateaus often start looking for secrets to get them to the next level. Is there a specific exercise that will help? A magic progression? A clever, counterintuitive drill? Instead, most people would be better served by just getting more “shots on goal” with whatever they’re working on.
What does this mean? Create training scenarios with a reasonable chance of success. Work on these training scenarios regularly. And, simply through repeated exposure, most people will see progression.
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- [0:13] Athletes often plateau just before “getting over the hump” with new skills like muscle-ups. One of the best ways to break through these plateaus is to get more “shots on goal.”
- [09:50] Progression is rarely linear, and this can trick and confuse people. Plus, understanding “regression to the mean” can smooth out emotions in response to training results.
- [21:37] Improving the “floor” of performance — in terms of both day-to-day variation as well as performing a skill in the worst case scenario” — is one of the highest leverage things an athlete can do.