7 Feb

No, no, no…. Not that kind of twist!

And, no, you don’t have to have an amazingly strong body as the woman in the picture to do what I’m talking about.

And, no, this post really isn’t even about doing pull ups. Yes, below there are some excellent detailed instructions for learning to do a pull up but that’s just an extra for those who are interested in that. I’m just using the desire to do a pull up as an example. You can apply this “twist” to learning anything new.

You can do a pull up or whatever other skill you want, if you…

Let’s start with some myth busting. Some will tell you that you just need to keep trying and eventually you’ll get the skill. So, you practice your move a thousand times a day. Yes, I’m exaggerating but let’s just pretend you do it that much so that it’s easier to get the point. It’s never a good idea to over-practice at first. When you’re learning something new, you don’t know yet how it’s supposed to feel. And, it’s very likely that when you’re new at this skill you are NOT doing it correctly yet. So, if you keep doing it incorrectly a thousand times a day, you are establishing a baseline expectation for your body to do it wrong! That incorrect way of doing the skill feels like your normal.

Here’s the twist: unlearning and then relearning something is always harder than learning something correctly from the start.

Yes, repetition is how we learn but consider this approach.

  1. ALWAYS make sure that you are mentally, physically and emotionally prepared to focus as you learn the new skill. If you can’t focus on a particular day, it would be better to wait until you can.
  2. Before you attempt the skill the first time, make sure you have very clear instructions on the RIGHT way to perform the skill. Ask a trainer for feedback or study a book or a video for instruction. Make sure you have absorbed the step by step information that you’ll need before you even start moving.
  3. While it is normal to make many mistakes when learning a new skill, rather than repeating the same mistake over and over, try to make a NEW mistake every time you attempt the skill. In other words, don’t let the incorrect movement become your normal. If you can, break the move down into small pieces. Then, make small corrections with each attempt. That means you have to be patient with yourself and the process. If you get fatigued after making ten corrections, stop and continue another day.
  4. Honor your progress by bringing your awareness to every attempt. Choose to claim the body memory of each correct movement.
  5. Practice less each day but do focused and deliberate practice consistently over time.

Here are some excellent instructions from Greatist for learning to do a pull up – the right way!

Ok. Truth time. This 64 year old athlete (me) can only kinda sorta wiggle her way about half way or three quarters of the way to a pull up which is really no pull up at all. L

Sooooooo, how about if I follow my own advice? The Greatist instructions above said it should take three weeks. Yes, I have some other goals but why not include this too? That would mean that I should be doing my pull ups (didn’t they say you could do FIVE if you follow this program?) by February 28th. Now… it would make it easier if I knew I had people to whom I was accountable with this goal. If you want to check back with me in three weeks, let me know and I’ll get a picture of my pull-ups posted.


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