They say practice makes perfect, but is that really true? I can tell you from years of personal experience that practice in and of itself doesn’t guarantee results. I would even say that most of my practice in Taekwon-Do, cycling, and calisthenics hasn’t moved me forward very much.
Not that those years of practice time didn’t help me get better, they did, but you can practice something for years and not advance beyond a beginner stage of growth. The reason is that progress doesn’t come from practice. It comes from proficiency or how well you can do something. Think about it; you don’t become good at playing the piano by practicing the piano. You become good because you become more proficient as your skills improve over time.
The same thing goes for calisthenics training. You don’t get stronger, or build muscle, from practicing your push-ups and pull-ups. You achieve those results by becoming more proficient at them.
The myth in calisthenics and fitness is that practice leads to proficiency but I’m here to tell you that’s not true. You can practice something for years and still be in a plateau. The reason is that practice doesn’t produce proficiency. Instead, practice produces efficiency.
The more you practice, the more efficient you become at doing an activity. It takes you less physical and mental work to perform the task. The trouble is you usually continue performing that task the same way, or the same relative level of proficiency. So your training becomes relatively easier, but it’s not guaranteed to be that much better.
The missing ingredient to proficiency
Practice produces efficiency, but you need one more key ingredient to become more proficient. That thing is knowledge and a deeper understanding of what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter how much you practice your push-ups. You can become so efficient you can crank out 100 straight reps as a warm-up, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll be doing one-arm push-ups anytime soon. To do that, you need to learn more about how push-ups and develop a deeper level of understanding about them.
The good news is that practice and efficiency are still very important. It’s very hard to learn how to become more proficient until you can do what you’re doing now more efficiently. Think about it like math. You couldn’t advance to calculus and algebra until you could become very efficient at basic arithmetic. So you practiced you multiplication tables until you could perform multiplication very efficiently. After that, you could move onto advanced stuff by learning more.
Endlessly practicing an exercise without learning more is like spending years practicing your multiplication tables. You can know them better than anyone, but you still can’t do advanced math. However, you couldn’t learn that advanced math until you become more efficient at arithmetic.
Here’s the key lesson
Practice your calisthenics exercises with the goal to become efficient at doing them.
But if you want to get stronger, faster and bigger than also learn advanced information about what you’re doing to become more proficient.
Check out this week’s podcast to learn more: