Skills under fatigue

Skills under fatigue

How do we develop a skill so that we can execute it under fatigue? Well there are two sides to this story.

First, Fitness. We must have an appropriate level of work capacity to be able to carry out high level skills under fatigue. This is pretty simple, the more your body is capable of, the more work you can do without movements/skills degrading.

Second, skills. These need development outside of a fatigued environment, and time must be taken to work on them in an ‘easy’ setting.

Too often we see athletes within the sport of fitness throwing skills randomly into workouts with no structure or reasoning behind it. Lets take a closer look at how these skills need developing.

C2B pull-ups. Lets assume our athlete is strong enough and well structured enough to do these safely. They can do 10-12 butterfly C2B but they are inefficient and find them extremely taxing.

First step is to identify technical flaws. Maybe they struggle with thoracic extension, or their hollow/arch positions are poor. We can work on thoracic mobility and positional awareness, strength and endurance on the floor. This can be built into training and may look something like this.

A. Bretzl – 3×5-8 breaths each side. Each set followed by 10 Cat-Cows. Rest as needed.

B1. Hollow Rock – 4×15-20 Rest 30s

B2. Arch Raises – 4×10-12 w/3s hold at top each set. Rest 90s

This is just a simple example and obviously is athlete specific, for some this may not be appropriate.

Secondly we start to practice the actual skill alongside this, in a non fatigued setting where the athlete can really focus on that specific skill. It is important that they are mindful during this practice. Pretty simple:

A. Butterfly C2B – 5×4-6 rest as needed.

You can add in physical cues here, e.g. squeezing a towel between legs and ankles (Something that was like gold for me, thanks to my coach Matt Connolly for that one).

This would increase slowly in reps or sets each week to build the volume.

From there, once the skill is nailed, we can make these into much bigger sets or we can add fatigue into the mix. This will depend on the goals, time in season, athletes injury history etc.

A way to progress in fatigue would be:

A1. Burpee Box Jump – 5×4-6 No rest

A2. C2B – 5×6-10 UB Rest 90s

This is pretty simple and quite easy…the next progression will have more reps in, different movements and more fatigue…


1- 50 DU

2- 8-10 C2B


5 Rounds of:

Ab 20 Cals

15 Wallballs

10 c2B

Rest 60-90s



8 c2B

16 KB Swing @ 32/24kg

24 DU

You can see how we slowly build from simple, low fatigue practice. Once the skill is at a proficient level, we slowly layer in fatigue.

This is really quite a simple concept…however it does require patience and this something that seems to be pretty much non existent in the world of fitness. All I would say is that if you suck at a particular movement, accept that it will take time to develop and you need to step back from it and re start sometimes.

It should also be noted that you need to slowly increase volume and be careful with this otherwise you will be very much leaving yourself open to injury. If you struggle with C2B, don’t just do C2B all day every day! Start with once a week and very very slowly build from there.

Hopefully this was of some use to some of you!


This Article was brought to you by Head Coach Tom McPartlan of the Athlete System. More information can be found here

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