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  1. #1
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    Greasing The Groove

    What is ‘Greasing the Groove’?

    The premise of this training technique revolves around the simple equation Pavel came up with to explain the technique:

    Specificity + Frequent Practice = Success.

    Contrary to the belief of most Western bodybuilders, who believe strength comes purely from larger muscles, the Russian philosophy is that in addition to strength being somewhat correlated to muscle size, strength is also a skill.

    Like with any other skill, the ‘skill of strength’ should be practiced, because as we all know, practice makes perfect.

    Russian, Bulgarian and other former Eastern bloc powerlifters and Olympic lifters made use of this technique. They dominated these sports for years, proving it may definitely have some merit.

    Practical use of the ‘Grease the Groove’ technique:

    ‘Greasing the groove’ works best with bodyweight movements, but can be used with bodybuilding, powerlifting or weightlifting moves too.

    To explain the technique, I am going to use pull-ups, one of the best upper-body developers.

    Right, so lets say you want to get better at pull-ups, i.e. be able to do more pull ups. According to the above equation, you need to frequently practice pull-ups to get better at them and do more.

    In order for this to work and not lead to overtraining, the key is to not train to failure.

    For example, lets say you can usually do 10 pull-ups with good form. What you’d then do is perform 5-8 reps (50-80% of your best/max) 4-6 times per day, 4-6 times per week.

    It works because by performing the movement so frequently, your nervous system develops and becomes more proficient at getting your body, nerves and muscles to work in sync to perform the movement more efficiently. Over time, the movement gradually becomes easier and more natural.

    As the movement becomes easier and more natural, you will be able to do more and more reps. You can then GRADUALLY start adding more weight/resistance to keep the exercise challenging.

    Over time, this process of gradually becoming more efficient or ‘more skilled’ at an exercise will allow you to handle bigger loads for more reps.

    But will being ‘more skilled’ at an exercise make me more muscular?

    Ask yourself this question, if I go from only being able to squeeze out 10 pull-ups with my bodyweight, to being able easily do 15 pull-ups with a 20 kg plate, what’s going to happen to my muscles? Are they going to get smaller?

    Of course not.

    Even though the ‘skill of strength’ is largely neurological, your muscles are still responsible for creating the movement and overcoming the forces preventing movement (gravity, friction, inertia), so as a natural ‘by-product’ they HAVE TO adapt and grow larger in order to keep up with the increasing neurological demands. Form must follow function.

    Putting ‘Grease the Groove’ into practice:

    The reason the grease the groove technique works best for bodyweight movements is that they require no equipment, and due to the fact that an exercise needs to be performed at such high frequency, the need for equipment could be a limiting factor.

    So, for exercises like dips or pull-ups, set up a bar or dipping station in your home or office (or wherever you spend a lot of time.) Several times per day, for example, each time you go to the fridge or bathroom, stop and do 1 set of 50-80% of your max reps.

    This will add up to many sets throughout the day. You will not build up a sweat and wont need to shower after only 1 set, so there are no excuses.

    It’s a little more tricky if you are trying to use the technique for an exercise requiring equipment, but its still doable, you just need a bit more planning. For example, let’s say you are using it for the bench-press:

    On 3-4 days of the week when you go to gym, preferably when you are not training your chest, do 1 set when you get to the gym. Do another one a quarter of the way through your workout, then another half-way through, another a bit before the end, then another after your’re done with your usual workout. Then after you have showered and about to leave, quickly do another.

    Because these sets are not done to failure and at only 50-80%, they should not interfere with your usual workouts.

    The main thing is get creative and figure out ways to ‘grease the groove’ throughout the day for a particular exercise.

    To summarise and some final key points when ‘greasing the groove’:

    Do it with only 1 or 2 exercises at a time.
    Do 50-80% of your maximum, NEVER go to failure.
    Grease the groove only when feeling fresh, if you feel weak or sore, then you have over-reached your recovery abilities.
    ‘Greasing the groove’ is an addition to your existing workouts, you are replacing the way you do ONE specific exercise, not your entire workout for the rest of your body.
    Has anyone heard of this technique? Just been reading about it and it seems very interesting. A lot of it seems to be geared towards bodyweight exercises, but the same principle surely applies to weighted exercises as well (from bodybuilding forum):

    You do realize this fear of overtraining is a modern concept that has reach a point of hysteria? If you saw the routines of old school bodybuilders you would be shocked. You might be surprised how many big and massively strong guys easily do 2-3x as much training as what most people would consider to be gross overtraining. Lazy training methods have become more popular as more regular Americans have gotten involved in bodybuilding and fitness. People with limited time, who perhaps do not enjoy working out, who have never played in any professional sport, or even college level sport where their scholorship depended on them bringing 100%.

    If you used greasing the groove to go from being able to do only 5 chin-ups to being able to do 25 chinups over the course of 2-3 months do you think on the same body that being able to do 5x the reps with the same weight would induce more, less or the same hypertrophy?
    Also a man who can do 20 or more chinups in one set can probably add plates on a chain for lower rep sets. Consider this from the same aspect with your other lifts if you were to use the same method to increase your bench press over several months. If you could turn your 6 rep max into a 15 or 20 rep max.... wouldn't that translate to a substantial increase in your 8-10 hypertrophy sets as well? Do you think you would have bigger pecs and triceps if your bench press work sets were 185 lbs for 5 sets of 10, or 245 for 5 sets of 10 using the same temp and rest times?

    The real issue is not that these methods are not extremely effective... the issue is that most people have limited time, stressful jobs, stressful lives and do not have the option of doing a couple sets of bench press in the morning, their lunch break and again in the evening every day, let alone their other lifts... and low stress levels... and the ability to sleep 8 hours a night with a nap or two mid-day. This is one reason some guys in prison get so jacked working out all day... or how professional athletes and even college level athletes train in such an extreme manner and make continual progress. The question really boils down to if you are willing to make a lifestyle out of training to get ridiculous results, or if you only have the motivation and/or time to make it a hobby. People have jobs, families, responsibilities and that is one reason these shorter workouts and methods pushed in magazines have been so popular... not because they are better... but becuase they fit into the lifestyle of the average joe better. Sadly they have also be marketed, faslely now, for a variety of reasons, as the actual way to make the best progress.
    I agree with this - I'm coming up to a year of training now and there's no many myths that are peddled as truths that in totality I think they do nothing but hinder progress. For example all this rubbish about cortisol, 'eating big' (which means 3k+ calories) or over-training. I work from home and have a home gym, so using this method to help improve some of my more stubborn lifts - like pulls / squats or overhead press - seems pretty achievable.

    What does everyone else think?

  2. #2
    Senior Senior JEFIT Member QuintanillJoseph's Avatar
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    "Greasing the groove": Neuroscience would probably tell us we're training the cerebellum (coordinates complex movements). As with anything... the more you practice, the better you get. Same with resistance training, the greater the volume, the stronger you'll get. And the stronger you get, the more muscle you'll add.

  3. #3
    Experienced Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuintanillJoseph View Post
    "Greasing the groove": Neuroscience would probably tell us we're training the cerebellum (coordinates complex movements). As with anything... the more you practice, the better you get. Same with resistance training, the greater the volume, the stronger you'll get. And the stronger you get, the more muscle you'll add.
    Exactly - seems like a good technique.

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