Why You Should Start With Skill Acquisition

Skills are the most important aspect of your first few month of your training journey. They can be the difference between building a long term resistance training practice and not. In this article I will talk about the benefits of putting emphasis on skill acquisition and practical examples of how to ensure you gain the skills required.

5 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
Last updated
Lower Body
Lower Body

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In This Resource
  • What Are Skills?
  • Why Are Skills Beneficial
  • Building Block of Progress
  • Injury Mitigation
  • No Steps Backwards
  • Ability to Tolerate Load and Volume
  • Individual Differences
  • Get A Coach If Required
  • Teach Yourself
  • Patience

What Are Skills?

When discussing skills, I am referring too the basic movement patterns of resistance training. These include but are not limited to the movement patterns of the squat, hinge, push, pull and core exercises. They are the basic skills required to perform a resistance training session.

This may sound way too easy and over simplified, but the majority of the people in most gyms are not performing the movements correctly. Without the correct skills of resistance training we are unable to perform a training programme effectively and therefore unable to achieve the goals we are moving towards.

Why Are Skills Beneficial

Building Block of Progress

No real progress can be made if the movements being performed are not performed correctly. Individuals will simple be moving in the wrong direction. Without this key base building of skills there is no way forward.

Injury Mitigation

This is the most obvious benefit, performing exercises with good technique will prevent them from causing injuries. If you are moving heavier weights with poor mechanics, you will be putting yourself at risk of injuries.

No Steps Backwards

If you do not correctly learn the skills of moving weights, yet you get strong in your poor positions you will eventually have to take steps backwards to correct your technique. Taking steps back can be frustrating and difficult, so the easiest thing to do is learn them correctly in the first place.

Ability to Tolerate Load and Volume

If you are able to move with high levels of skill, with technical mastery under heavy weights, you will be able to both take more load (lift heavier weights) and be able to tolerate higher volumes of training, allowing you to create more adaptation towards your health and fitness goals.

Individual Differences

There are no rules for how long it takes to learn the different movement patterns. For some individuals it can take a few weeks, others a few months and for some people it can take a few years to fully grasp the nuances of all the movements. The two factors which influence an individuals ability to learn the skills are athletic ability / experience and mobility.

I coach individuals who have done years of sport and individuals who have not moved on a consistent basis for 10+ years and there is, in most cases, an enormous difference between the two groups. The type of sport also matters, one of my clients did classical danse when she was younger and she could perform the movements perfectly in a few training sessions, another was a competitive runner who sustained injuries to the hip and ankle and after more than a year is still learning how to perform the hinge movement.

Mobility restrictions can make learning the skills or resistance training very difficult. If you do not have the range of motion to perform a squat or an overhead press then it is not the skill of performing it correctly that is blocking you, but mobility restrictions. These mobility restrictions can often take a lot longer to progress than gaining the skills required to perform the movement patterns. When an individual is blocked by mobility restrictions, the skills can still be learned along with the principles behind why the movements are performed the way they are performed with an individuals current range of motion which will progress overtime.

Get A Coach If Required

One of the best ways to ensure the skill acquisition process goes to plan is to hire a trainer to teach you the requisite skills to perform resistance training. This could be anything between 10 and 20 personal training sessions specifically based around skill acquisition. If after this process you feel as if you still have not learnt all the nuances of all the movement patterns you will at least know where your weaknesses are and can attempt to address them yourself. This is not cheap, but in the sense that these movements can potentially improve your health and wellness in a substantial way they are worth the investment of learning well. Be very selective when choosing a coach, the industry standards in strength and conditioning are exceptionally low and a large percentage of “trainers” will not be able to perform the movements correctly.

Teach Yourself

This is slightly more difficult but can easily be done for those who do not want to hire a coach or do not have the budget required to do so. Teaching yourself will require a high level of intentionality, you will need to watch a great deal of videos on each movement pattern and the common mistakes that are performed on each. Another way to teach yourself is try and find a friend who is interested in this subject and can help inform you on your movement capabilities, although this is risky as they could also easily be performing them incorrectly themselves. We will eventually release a course on skill acquisition that will help beginners gain the skills required to build resistance training into their routine.


These movements take time to perfect, some are far more complex than others and individuals will find different movements more and less challenging for their individual body. The key is to be extremely patient during the first few years of resistance training and to take your time. This is all about accepting that it is a long process towards mastery of all the movement patterns.

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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

Sean Klein


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