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Huberman Lab

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May 17, 2021

This episode I discuss the science and practice of learning physical skills: what it involves at a biological level, and what to focus on during skill learning at each stage to maximize learning speed and depth. I also describe what to do immediately after a training session (note: this is different than the optimal protocol for cognitive skill training) and as you progress to more advanced levels of performance. I also cover the science of skill-based visualization which does have benefits, but only if done correctly and at the correct times. I discuss auto-replay of skill learning in the brain during sleep and the value of adding in post-training ‘deliberately idle’ sessions. I cover how to immediately improve limb-range-of-motion by leveraging cerebellum function, error generation, optimal repetition numbers for learning and more. As always, scientific mechanism, peer-reviewed studies and science-based protocols are discussed.


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  • 00:00:00 Introduction
  • 00:06:28 Skill Acquisition: Mental & Physical
  • 00:08:40 Clarification About Cold, Heat & Caffeine
  • 00:12:45 Tool: How To Quickly Eliminate the Side-Stitch ‘Cramp’ & BoostHRV Entrainment
  • 00:16:08 Physical Skills: Open-Loop Versus Closed-Loop
  • 00:18:50 Three Key Components To Any Skill
  • 00:21:00 Sources of Control for Movement: 1) CPGs Govern Rhythmic Learned Behavior
  • 00:23:30 Upper Motor Neurons for Deliberate Movement & Learning
  • 00:25:00 Lower Motor Neurons Control Action Execution
  • 00:25:26 What To Focus On While Learning
  • 00:27:10 The Reality of Skill Learning & the 10,000 Hours Myth
  • 00:28:30 Repetitions & The Super Mario Effect: Error Signals vs. Error Signals + Punishment
  • 00:34:00 Learning To Win, Every Time
  • 00:39:26 Errors Solve the Problem of What Focus On While Trying to Learn Skills
  • 00:43:00 Why Increasing Baseline Levels of Dopamine Prior To Learning Is Bad
  • 00:44:40 The Framing Effect (& Protocol Defined)
  • 00:46:10 A Note & Warning To Coaches
  • 00:48:30 What To Do Immediately After Your Physical Skill Learning Practice
  • 00:53:48 Leveraging Uncertainty
  • 00:56:59 What to Pay Attention To While Striving To Improve
  • 01:04:45 Protocol Synthesis Part One
  • 01:07:10 Super-Slow-Motion Learning Training: Only Useful After Some Proficiency Is Attained
  • 01:11:06 How To Move From Intermediate To Advanced Skill Execution faster: Metronomes
  • 01:16:44 Increasing Speed Even If It Means More Errors: Training Central Pattern Generators
  • 01:19:12 Integrated Learning: Leveraging Your Cerebellum (“Mini-Brain”)
  • 01:22:02 Protocol For Increasing Limb Range of Motion, Immediately
  • 01:28:30 Visualization/ Mental Rehearsal: How To Do It Correctly
  • 01:33:50 Results From 15 Minutes Per Day, 5 Days Per Week Visualization (vs. Actual Training)
  • 01:35:34 Imagining Something Is Very Different Than Actually Experiencing It
  • 01:37:58 Cadence Training & Learning “Carryover”
  • 01:39:00 Ingestible Compounds That Support Skill Learning: Motivation, Repetitions, Alpha-GPC
  • 01:43:39 Summary & Sequencing Tools: Reps, Fails, Idle Time, Sleep, Metronome, Visualization
  • 01:46:20 Density Training: Comparing Ultradian- & Non-Ultradian Training Sessions
  • 01:49:24 Cost-Free Ways to Support Us, Sponsors & Alternate Channels, Closing Remarks


Please note that The Huberman Lab Podcast is distinct from Dr. Huberman's teaching and research roles at Stanford University School of Medicine. The information provided in this show is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. The Huberman Lab Podcast, its employees, guests and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.

Title Card Photo Credit: Mike Blabac -