How to Learn New Skills


How to Learn New Skills

In CrossFit Gyms and other Functional Fitness gyms all over the world there are clients just like you looking to learn how to do various skills.

The skills most people want to learn are things like Pull-ups (of all types), Muscle Ups, Handstand Push-ups, Double Unders, and countless other bodyweight/loaded skills you see performed in the gyms.

The main problem is that for most places there is never a dedicated approach on how to do them other than “Just try them in the workout” or to “Just grab a band” in most cases with some of the movements.

In this blog we are gonna jump into a practical mindset and process on how to acquire those skills that so many want and give you some tools to progress yourself through!

#1 Intention to Action

In the gym we always have to be intentional.

Each day presents us with an opportunity to work on and learn new things.

As an example, sometimes in a group setting we may want to “use a band” on a pull-up day when we may be better suited to use another option.

We need to always remember that we don’t just want to participate, we want to express a particular skill.

Participating in the execution partially of a skill will not lead to mastery. Rushing this process and looking for the shortcut will lead either to injury or a plateau.

Instead look at each day as an opportunity to be intentional with your time and execution so that you can later do the actions!

#2 Focus on the Process NOT the Result

This boils down to one thing and one mindset.


Learning how to do something worth while will not be done easily for most.

It will take time, frustration, and practice.

Some skills may come faster then others but at the end of the day most will come slowly as you go through the process.

Instead of focusing so much on the result (aka you learn the skill), focus more on how lucky you are to get to move your body.

Movement is beautiful and expressing yourself through physical fitness is something we are lucky as healthy people to experience.

#3 Be Open to FAILURE

You are gonna fail.

Get ready for it.

You will try and try again. Sometimes it will seem like you are not going anywhere with it.

But here is the truth…. I have not seen 1 person not learn a skill if they do everything they are supposed to. If you have your Nutrition, Lifestyle, Recovery, and regularly practice your skills you will get your result.

It will just take longer than you wanted.

Go into the process with the mindset that you WILL fail and when it does show its ugly head you will not be shaken by it.

#4 Don’t Overthink It

We have all been there.

Our Coach is right there cheering us on and giving us cues.

We do some of what they say but its still off, we try something else, we still mess up, and then we begin to balance all that is going on inside and outside our bodies. Next thing we know… we are lost.

We forget how to do the most simple part of what we are trying to do that we have done a thousand times.

This is because we did a bunch of over thinking.

Learn to balance all the internal and external cues in the environment and allow your brain and your body to move in perfect flow.

#5 Move From NO Intensity to SOME Intensity

Learning new skills is nearly impossible when we are fatigued.

I’ve tried… trust me it doesn’t work.

Instead I like to think of skill in a 4-step Process:

  1. Learn – Do pieces of the skill in a strict and stable environment with no intensity or fatigue.
  2. Do – Once you acquire the skill in a low fatigue environment, continue to accumulate repetitions and practice. Doing this will teach the body how to truly do the skill.
  3. Perform – Now that you have the skill and have practiced it ALOT it is time to start adding in some cyclical modalities that are easily tracked and measured. Doing reps of your skill and then performing an Assault Bike interval or running interval will allow you to start doing under fatigue what you have acquired. The main point is that we do not progress unless we can sustain the level of execution of the skill for the entire duration.
  4. Express – This is where it gets fun! Once we have done the skill in a slightly fatigued setting we can start to add in all sorts of fatigue producing modalities of all types. We can add loaded elements, bodyweight elements, and cyclical elements all together and perform the skill. The goal here is and always will be to continue to perform the skill in a sustainable fashion. As I said earlier in this article, Performing a skill with low quality will lead to injury or possible plateaus.

Let’s jump further into this with an example.

Ex. The Kipping Pull-up

Step #1 – Start to perform strict pulling, pushing, and core work of all forms (horizontal and vertical pulls, grip strength work, shoulder stability work, isometric core hold, etc..)

Step #2 – After Strict Pull-ups are acquired start to learn the motion of the kip for multiple repetitions along with performing several sets of strict pull-ups.

Step #3 – Start adding in fatigue in intervals. This could be something like 3-5 sets of 10-15 Kipping Pullups followed by 10 Calories on the Assault Bike. Take a 2-3 minute rest between each round to be able to complete each round with great quality.

Step #4 – Add In the mixture of modalities. This could be 3-5 sets of Running 400m, Performing 10 Hang Power Cleans, 10 Burpees, then 10-15 reps of your kipping pull-ups keeping a controlled pace with proper mechanics throughout the movement.

This approach can be highly individual but you can at least see what this progression can look like in learning the new skill.


Learning skills is tough and you need to be patient.

Not everyone learns something fast and I completely get how understanding that can be.

Understand that there is a process and a mindset in learning something new and use this article as a guide to start moving forward.

If you need more help and want to get someone or a program to work on a skill, send us an email today!

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Written by:

Coach Cody Smith