The OK Plateau

What is it? Well, the OK Plateau is a stage of skill development that occurs when the subject reaches a satisfactory level of understanding such that the particular task is no longer intellectual and becomes automatic. If you’ve had your driver license for any substantial amount of time, you have this concept to thank for your ability to sing and drive or daydream and drive or (God forbid) text and drive.

In the weight room, we call the stages of learning development with training movement as unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and finally unconscious competence. According to our friends at PowerAthlete HQ, not knowing what a muscle up is would be called unconscious incompetence. Concious incompetence, would be knowing about its elements but not understanding how to do it. Conscious competence of the muscle up would be understanding how to do the muscle up, but only with full concentration on its elements. Having muscle ups without needing to think about the steps at all, however, would be called unconscious competence. That’s autopilot. In the 1960s, psychologists Paul Fitts and Michael Posner would call the autopilot zone the “autonomous stage”.

Evolutionarily having an “autonomous skill” has great value. Imagine if you had to recall the alphabet every time you set out to type an English word on a keyboard. Your work capacity would plummet and you’d be mentally exhausted after just a sentence of writing. Thank goodness for autopilot!

Let’s not celebrate too fast, though. By definition, reaching this stage in skill development removes the cognitive focus for the task. (That’s what makes it easy.) Built inside of this convenience is a lack of new learning and, as a result, a plateau in performance improvement. This is the OK Plateau, folks.

There are plenty of tasks that the OK Plateau might make total sense for, including driving. Except, if you wish to remove the governor on your skill development, you’ll want to override this OK Plateau. If, for example, you want to be a professional rally car driver, the “autonomous stage” level of driving you earned driving around town as a licensed driver will not suffice.

The key is to get clear as to what areas of your life you want to become autopilot and cease learning in, and others where you want to toil and stretch. How do we override the naturally occurring “OK Plateau”? It’s a favorite topic of ours called deliberate practice.


Logan Gelbrich


5/30/17 WOD

Spend 15 minutes on handstand-to-forward roll…


Then, AMRAP 10

10 DB Hang Squat Clean Thrusters (50/30)

400m Run