• Contents
  • Key Takeaways
  • Protocols
  • Source
  • Full Notes
  • Support the Podcast
Last Updated: 12.06.23

How to Learn Skills Faster

Dr. Huberman explores the science and practice of learning physical skills, including optimal strategies for maximizing learning speed and depth. Topics include post-​​training protocols, skill-​​based visualization, sleep consolidation, deliberate practice, and improving range of motion. Scientific mechanisms and evidence-​​based approaches are discussed.

Key Takeaways

High level takeaways from the episode.

Two types of skills: open loop and closed loop

  • Open loop: perform action, wait for feedback (e.g., throwing darts)
  • Closed loop: continuous action with moment-​​to-​​moment feedback (e.g., running, swimming)

Three components of motor skills:

  • Sensory perception: perceiving what is happening around you and within your body
  • Movements: actual movements of limbs and body
  • Proprioception: awareness of limb positions relative to the body

Focuses while skill learning

  • Determine if a skill is open loop or closed loop
  • Decide what to focus on: auditory, visual, or proprioception
  • Allocate attention to specific aspects of the skill

10,000 hours rule is not entirely accurate; learning is about repetitions

Perform as many repetitions as possible when first learning a skill

  • Errors are important for learning, cueing the nervous system to change
  • Errors cue the nervous system to error correction and open the door for neuroplasticity
  • Errors cue the frontal cortex networks and neuromodulators (dopamine, acetylcholine, epinephrine) for plasticity

Increasing dopamine levels before learning using pharmacology (i.e. supplements) is not recommended, as it reduces the signal-​​to-​​noise ratio

Designate a specific block of time for performing repetitions when learning a new skill

  • Focus on making errors and learning from them to improve performance and skill acquisition

Maximum number of repetitions per learning session is crucial

After a skill learning session, do nothing for a short period (1–10 minutes)

  • Brain replays the motor sequence of correct patterns of movement backward
  • Consolidation of skill learning occurs during this time

Sleep is important for learning

  • During sleep, the brain replays the motor sequence forward
  • Quality sleep is crucial for skill learning

Introduce post-​​learning sessions for more rapid skill learning

Focusing on one specific aspect of a movement during practice can accelerate learning

  • Example: Learning piano sequences without focusing on the sound produced

Early practice sessions should involve making many errors and allowing the brain to go idle afterward

As skill level increases, attention can shift from one feature of the movement to another

  • Example: Focusing on different aspects of a tennis serve (stance, grip, ball landing, etc.)

Performing ultra-​​slow movements too early in learning can hinder progress due to lack of proprioceptive feedback and lack of errors generated

  • Wait until some proficiency has been gained for ultra-​​slow movements
  • Introduce slow learning when success rate is around 25–30%

Auditory metronomes can be used for various skills for intermediate or advanced practitioners

  • Increases errors and successes, leading to more neuroplasticity
  • Sets a pace slightly faster than current rate to force errors
  • Anchoring movements to an external force accelerates skill acquisition

Increasing range of motion using the cerebellum

  • Move eyes to the far periphery (left and right) to send a signal to the cerebellum
  • Expands the field of view and increases range of motion
  • Can be applied to any limb
  • Useful for warming up before exercise or skill learning

Mental visualization can help learn skills faster

  • Not as effective as physical performance, but can supplement it
  • Actual physical engagement in behavior is necessary for optimal learning

Alpha GPC can enhance power output and cognitive function, beneficial for activities requiring force and power generation

Caffeine can motivate and help execute physical training

  • For cognitive learning, it’s better to spike adrenaline levels after learning
  • For physical learning, take caffeine before training

Utilize 90-​​minute Ultradian Cycles for optimal skill learning.


Science-​​based tools and supplements that push the needle.

Optimal Learning Protocol for Early Sessions (First 10–100)


Skill Learning: Movement Mastery


Visualization, Mental Rehearsal for Skill Learning


Metronoming for Skill Learning


Increasing Range of Motion Using Cerebellum


Caffeine for Skill Learning


Alpha GPC for Skill Learning


Don’t Boost Dopamine Before Skill Learning


Don’t Practice Super Slow Movements As A Beginner for Skill Learning



We recommend using this distillation as a supplemental resource to the source material.

  • How to Learn Skills Faster

    Huberman Lab #20

    Dr. Huberman delves into the science of learning physical skills, covering optimal strategies for speed and depth, post-​​training protocols, visualization, and sleep consolidation. Evidence-​​based approaches and scientific mechanisms are explored.

Full Notes

Support the Podcast