On the importance of long-term practice, knowing what you don’t know, and learning as an adult

Hey there,

Last week, someone came up to me while I was training and asked me how I got so good at jump roping.

I had been jumping nearly without thinking, while out of the corner of my eye, I’d watched as he tripped over his feet in frustration.

I responded with a simple answer: I practiced a lot. For a really long time. And I didn’t give up.

And it really is as simple as that.

No matter what you want to get better at in life, the key to all improvement is long-term practice.

This same lesson applies whether you have a fitness-related goal like jump roping, or a non-fitness-related one like writing, public speaking, or handling your emotions better.

Practicing — really practicing — doesn’t mean putting in just a couple of mindless practice sessions here and there.

While simply showing up and putting in your reps is an important first step, eventually you’ll want to be more deliberate about your practice.

This means putting in focused, deliberate work toward your goal with the specific goal of improving performance. And doing this day after day for the long haul.

When I first picked up a jump rope for the first time since elementary school, I wasn’t naturally gifted at it. I tripped a lot and got rope burns and, some days, could barely jump at all.

But I kept at it, and eventually, it became something I’ve become pretty good at.

No matter where you’re at in your journey — keep going.

What I’m reading —

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant

Author and organizational psychologist Adam Grant’s newest book is all about having the courage to rethink our beliefs — essentially to unlearn when necessary — in order to grow and keep learning.

Some ideas I loved:

  • Why imposter syndrome can be helpful to high achievers (the internal experience of feeling like a fraud)
  • Why conflict can be a good thing (the ability to argue helps us think through our ideas and rethink things when necessary)
  • The benefit of having a ‘challenge network’ (people who won’t automatically support all of your ideas and will question and challenge you on them using tough love)

Says Grant, “Changing your mind doesn’t make you a flip-flopper or a hypocrite. It means you are learning.”

What I’m listening to —

Huberman Lab podcast: How to Learn Faster by Using Failures, Movement & Balance

This month’s focus on Huberman lab is all about neuroplasticity, our brain’s ability to change — a topic I am endlessly fascinated by.

Huberman spends much of the podcast talking about the best way to learn new things as an adult. He says:

“If you want to change, continuing to drill into a process to the point of frustration, then staying with that process for a little bit longer… is the most important thing for adult learning.”

Basically… embrace the struggle!

Another key to lifelong learning is to really break up your learning into bite-sized pieces. Studies show that the ideal is seven to thirty minutes of intense, focused learning while trying to learn small amounts of information.

Also, don’t shy away from mistakes — mistakes during the learning process are a good thing and prime your brain to learn new things.

A quote that inspires me —

“Writers write. Runners run. Establish your identity by doing your work.”

― Seth Godin, The Practice: Shipping Creative Work

What I’m training this week —

Slow round kicks.

I trained in boxing for about two and a half years before switching to a more martial arts approach during COVID. And wow, kicks are tough! I’ve been trying to embrace the “slow is fast” approach and diligently work my side kick and round kick technique, but for someone who is used to going all out, it’s not easy. I’m doing my best to not rush the learning and trust the process, but sometimes I just get so frustrated.

Three new workouts from last week —

Do Anywhere Cardio HIIT Workout (12 Minute; bodyweight-only)

16-Minute Kettlebell Crusher Workout (16-Minute; kettlebell)

300 Rep Strength + Stamina Challenge Workout (Time challenge; sandbag/dumbbells, kettlebell)

And here’s a fun jump rope workout I posted on Instagram.

Remember, you can get these and all future workouts right in the 12 Minute Athlete app when you subscribe as a Super Athlete (this is WAY cheaper than joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer! In addition, you’ll be helping to support the site and making future features to the app possible.).

As always, I value your feedback, so please feel free to reply directly to this email if you have any questions or comments (yes, I am a real human). I get a lot of emails and messages, so I can’t reply to all of them, but I do read everything you guys send me!

Here’s to deliberate practice,

Krista Stryker

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