Stop to improve⁠


6th of December 2019

Category: Practice⁠

Many of us have experienced it: ⁠

You practice something intensely for a while. You stop the practice for some time. You resume the practice and notice that you have improved during the time you didn't practice.⁠

This is clear for things that have a physical adaption like strength training, but it is also true for coordinative skills. The things need some time to sink into you. When you practice something intensely every day, it is good to stop for some time once in a while. You will improve in these days of rest. Sometimes it is even that we stop for weeks or months and improve in things, maybe because we practice other things that have a carry-over, perhaps because this time is needed for us to let things sink. I cannot tell you exactly the level of intensity you have to practice in and when to stop and for how long. What I am sure about: If you work on something just sometimes, you have enough rest anyway. But if you practice something every day, these days of stopping will be beneficial. When should you stop? Hard to generalise here. I use my intuition.

In conditioning, this is also called overreaching. You set the next stimulus a bit too early several times and then take a more extended rest. For example, you train strength every day for five days and then rest four days contrary to training strength 2-3x per week. Overreaching is something to investigate and to try, as it can be a precious tool for progress in your training. ⁠

Summing it up: If you train skills OFTEN and INTENSELY, sometimes stop completely with this skill for some time (not just a day, but several days, sometimes weeks) and it will improve during that time. ⁠

Joseph Bartz