PART 2: SKILLS: Why & How To Accomplish Them + Success Stories.

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In part 1 we broke down 10 various skills and some of the recommended prerequisites to achieve those skills. 


In Part 2 we will finish with  

-Understanding why they take so long to achieve / get good at

-Understanding why we really want a skill? 

-The 3 methods to achieve skills

-Success stories 

Understanding Why They Take So Long To Achieve Or Improve At

Simply put, they are not easy. 

It’s not as simple as 1+1 = 2 here.

Most skills require strength in vast array of muscle groups within the body.

If any body part (or multiple) are lagging behind in strength required, skill achievement or progress can feel impossible. 

“It’s not a deadlift.” 

Duh. What do I mean here? 

In complexity terms, a deadlift is pick this up off the ground.

Once you see, understand and learn the points of performance of a deadlift, it’s can be a relatively easy thing to understand how to perform.

Most anyone can implement the mechanics of a deadlift and we do in our day to day lives just not with a barbell.

Skills aren’t as simplistic.

Skills take not only strength, but a major neurological component. 

You must understand where you body is in space, perhaps the upper body is moving one direction and the lower body the other or what if we are upside down? 

The brain is put to the test in overdrive with skills. The mind body connection is massive. 

Hence they are best built in practice not training. 

Understanding Why We Want A Skill:

Let’s be honest, skills are cool.

They look cool, feel cool and are empowering to achieve.

They are impressive and rare feats of excellence in movement that very few people in the world can actually pull off. 

They are a sign of progress, accomplishment and overcoming a very difficult journey it actually takes to achieve them. 

Even 1 rep. 

You are in rare company if you can perform skills. 

Ego can also be at play, which we need to be mindful of.

Perhaps we want to compete at a certain level within CrossFit.

Local competition? Up your game for the worldwide open? 

It’s very important to understand your why with wanting a skill before you partake down the long road of working towards it. 

If you are serious about wanting a particular skill, you must know what you’re willing to do to achieve it. What your weak points are. 

As cool as skills are, take it from someone who can do them all, in plentiful amounts…

They do not define you or make you better than anyone. 

Your gym buddy.

That person you want to outdo in a workout. 

Ego with skills is a slippery slope.

I’ve seen my fair share of people seek to achieve a movement (at all costs, ie: the ugly – whatever it takes approach) for the sake of ego, eventually hurting themselves. 

So how do we go about achieving and mastering skills? 

The METHODS to Achieve Skills: 

The WORST way:

Saying you want a skill, then doing nothing towards working on that particular skill is the fast track to nowhere. 

If you want it, that’s one thing.

We all want things.

If you’re serious about, that’s different. 


You get an open gym membership.

And with that 20-30 min before or after class and you practice.

However this is NOT for the majority.

Most people don’t really know what they’re doing and just work towards or do that movement over and over at nauseam, without ever knowing if you’re actually getting better.

Left thinking….

Am I doing it correctly?

Is it most efficient?

Where am I leaking energy or being inefficient?

What do I actually need to work on? 

Without actively knowing and understanding, we’re just shooting in the dark hoping we hit the target. 

*This is ONLY recommended for those who have the pre req strength, know what they are doing and how to progress over time in movement quality, efficiency and strength.

The SLOW way:

If you take group class, it’s obvious your exercises are in a variance method. 

A lot depends on when you’ll see a movement, to include on the current training cycle, the intent, the time of year etc.

It could be a while before you see a certain movement. 

We remove kipping for about 6+ out of the year at times.

Only sharpening a skill when you see it show up in class is one way to go about it.

It will just take a lot longer to achieve it this way. 

The FASTEST way:

Seek the assistance and work exclusively 1 on 1 with a coach. 

This could be a skill session.

This could be recurring skill sessions.

For some, they can immediately be confronted with the thought of cost. 

I understand. It will come at the expense of your economics.

However, going back to your why, is it truly important to you?

What would or will unlocking that skill do for you?

Provide for you?

Does it open more doors? Prove you can achieve these things you desire?

Working with a coach will be the fastest way to isolate where you are, to where you want to go.

To determine the weak points, the drills, or muscle groups that need attention.

Or if you’re a lucky one with most of those things there for you already, the missing link to connecting the dots. 


I told you the slow road was the group class method.

Recently in a skill breakout session of skill and drills, Damien achieved his first ever Strict Handstand Pushup! 

Go Damien! 

He’s consistent 3-4x a week in his group classes.

Everything bettering everything and his strength pre-reqs there, Damien achieved a major milestone. 

Open Gym = Practice

Emily came to Railroad with a great background in bodybuilding so she had strong baselines in her upper body muscle development.

You can see her perform these high level skills, we must not forget that she’s one of the strongest pressing/pulling people pound for pound. 

Her baseline in lat, shoulder, tricep, bicep development allows her to progress through skills, alongside with her work ethic.

She practices often.

And studies and implements drills.

Emily has an open gym membership and she refines and practices movements that matter to her and she wants to progress further in.

She’s cleaned up her bar muscle up and this year achieved a major milestone in achieving the Ring muscle up. 

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Way to go Emily.

Skill Session – Having The Tools & Piecing It All Together

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Then there are people who’ve sought out the help of a Coach.

Earlier this year Ava sought out my help with a few higher level skills in gymnastics.

I knew she had the pre requisite strength and after a session we achieved her first chest to bar pullup and kipping handstand pushups.

A few weeks later, her first bar muscle up.

Mike Chernow, one of our newer members with a long tenured background in fitness and strength has all the strength pre requisites, he sought out 1:1 time with a coach to connect the dots and achieve a bar muscle up.

I knew without a shadow of doubt, after a few drills and teaching him the points of performance I could get him there.

And I did. And the joy on his face is a moment I will never forget. 

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Skill Sessions: Help Us Learn & Make Strides To Where Want To Go

Sometimes we don’t always get the skill in the session.

Back when I was working with Cedric, one on one he had back pain we had to fix first.

After we did that, I asked him, what would you like to achieve next? 

He said, “a bar muscle up!”

I knew Ceddy had some boxes to check and things to build before this was our reality, so we put in the consistent work on the unsexy drills to progress closer.

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Tracy Lee, similar story, sought out help to achieve the double under and in a separate session a bar muscle up.

We made major progress and Tracy achieved double unders, but there is still a long road ahead of performing drills and building the habit and consistency.

Because we also could have trained patterns that don’t serve a particular skill.

An inefficient jump, an incorrect kip swing or we always resort to muscling versus technique. 

These faults, flaws or inefficiency take time to course correct. 

Teaching us patience. Which can be difficult. 

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Tracy also realized how difficult the bar muscle up actually is.

We did a vast array of skills and drills and I discovered while she is STRONG! There is a lot more room to make vertical pulling strength (ie: Chest to bars) before we begin the road of the bar muscle up.

And that’s the humbling part of learning and skill development.

They’ll likely take longer than we want. 

But if you’re willing to put in the work, the time, sacrifices and be humble enough to ask for help (& possibly take 1 step back to take 2 forward) you too can achieve the skills you are seeking to. 

In love & Service,

Coach Shawn

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