Rethinking Training to Exhaustion

Training to fatigue may impair motor learning.

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
Oct 15, 2019

It’s common for athletes, musicians and other professionals to train repetitively to fatigue in seeking to improve their performance. When it comes to mastering a motor skill, however, new research shows that intensive repetition to the that subjects who had trained to fatigue experienced detrimental changes in motor skill learning, but not in performance of mentally demanding tasks.

“Our observations should be considered carefully when designing training protocols such as in sports and musical performance, as well as for rehabilitation programs,” said study author Pablo Celnik, PhD, director of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The study was published in eLife (2019; doi:10.7554/eLife.40578).


Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at

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