Motor Skill Acquisition

Something that has peaked my interest lately is motor skill acquisition.  How do we form connections between the mind and the muscles and get our body to do things like the power clean, or the kettlebell swing or handstand?

Fortunately for me, there is a lot of research available, and I’m narrowing down what to spend my precious time reading.  Here are some promising papers I’m interested in:

Stages of Motor Skill Learning – Luft and Buitrago
Successful learning of a motor skill requires repetitive training. Once the skill is mastered, it can be remembered for a long period of time. The durable memory makes motor skill learning an interesting paradigm for the study of learning and memory mechanisms. To gain better understanding, one scientific approach is to dissect the process into stages and to study these as well as their interactions. This article covers the growing evidence that motor skill learning advances through stages, in which different storage mechanisms predominate. The acquisition phase is characterized by fast (within session) and slow learning (between sessions). For a short period following the initial training sessions, the skill is labile to interference by other skills and by protein synthesis inhibition, indicating that consolidation processes occur during rest periods between training sessions. During training as well as rest periods, activation in different brain regions changes dynamically. Evidence for stages in motor skill learning is provided by experiments using behavioral, electrophysiological, functional imaging, and cellular/molecular methods.

It’s Practice, with sleep, That Makes Perfect: Implications of Sleep-Dependent Learning and Plasticity for Skill Performance – Walker and Strickgold
When contemplating the learning of new skilled actions and behaviors, particularly those involved in athletic endeavors, practice is often believed to be the only determinate of improvement. Although repeatedly performing a new task often results in learning benefits, leading to the adage ‘‘practice makes perfect,’’ a collection of studies over the past decade has begun to change this concept. Instead, these reports suggest that after initial training, the human brain continues to learn in the absence of further practice, and that this delayed improvement develops during sleep. This article reviews these studies of what is now becoming known as sleep-dependent memory processing and focuses on the effects of sleep in the development of procedural skills.

First article there makes a sense to all of us right?  Practice, practice, practice and eventually we’ll have an awesome power clean or whatever…

The second article is what excites me.  This idea that our brain keeps learning after we are done practicing is fascinating.  What’s more, it seems that sleep plays a role in our brain making those connections with our motor control units.

My Idea is This

I’m interested in improving some of my olympic lifts.  Specifically, I’ll be working on my power clean and snatch.  Going to be soon after I practice isn’t always a great option, and napping seems like it would be difficult as well.

I’m going to look into an alternative to actual sleep.  I’m wondering if a brief period of meditation will have a similar effect?  Lately I’ve been using this website to practice my meditation with excellent results.

My plan isn’t fancy:

Spend 15-20 minutes practicing the clean and snatch at a moderate weight and intensity, then…
Spend 10 minutes meditating

I’ll also be looking up some more resources about this sleep reinforcing motor skill acquisition.  I’m going to scour the literature for connections with meditation as well.

Stay posted, I’ll have more on this topic next week.  I’ll also update you on what I’ve experienced as far as improving my oly lifts as well.

Quick Reminder About Labor Day

Our Schedule on the website has been updated and is as follows:

Saturday August 30th – Normal CPM Classes
Sunday August 31st – No Classes, CPM Closed
Monday September 1st – No Classes, CPM Closed
Tuesday September 2nd – Normal CPM Classes

Happy Labor Day everybody!  Have a great weekend!

The CPM Combine

Sign up.  The heat boards are up outside of the office (by the dumbbells).  The heats will fill up fast, so if you want a specific time, get your name on the board early.

Join the Facebook event too.  Tell all your friends you’re going and commit.  It’ll be worth 90 minutes of your time I assure you.

Afterwards, there is the CPM 1 Year Anniversary party.  We love all our members, and we want to say thanks for being the awesome community you’ve become.  Please join us for a little celebration, and to talk some smack about the combine!

Details Here

The O-Board Says…

A. EMOTM for 12 Minutes
Odd – Row for Calories (15/10)
Even – 5 Push Press

B. For Time
Dips (Box or Ring)
30 – 20 – 10 – 20 – 30
200m run after each set

Posted by: Stets