Grease The Groove

I am currently following the Rite of Passage programme from Pavel Tsatsouline, working towards pressing a 40kg kettlebell overhead with one arm. As part of the programme, Pavel suggests that you can do ‘Grease The Groove’ (GTG) single-leg squats to supplement the main workouts.

‘Grease The Groove’ describes performing regular reps of a movement throughout the day to build the skill of strength while avoiding fatigue. Pavel suggests in ‘People to the people!’ that strength is a skill; to get stronger, you must practice strength consistently. He states that the strongest people in the world only go to max effort infrequently and for a reason such as competition. The rest of the time, strong athletes push their limits with weight and tension, rather than going to exhaustion with excessive reps sticking to 5 reps or less and always able to do at least one more each set.

There are two main ways to get strong:

  1. Train heavy: If 100% intensity is the maximum you can lift, focus on reps at 85-95% of this.
  2. Train often: around 50% of your max weight/reps, and training as often as possible while staying fresh.

The ‘train often’ strategy is based on stimulating a neural pathway, described by the Hebbian rule. The more you repeatedly stimulate the pathway by repeating a strength movement, the stronger and more efficient that movement becomes. You will develop the ability to lift more with the same effort in that specific movement. For example, if you can do ten pull-ups with good form, you would perform sets of five pull-ups (50% of your max) throughout each day. After a few weeks, you would retest your max number, and you will now be able to do more than ten. GTG is specific to the skill, and so focusing on form is essential, and the volume of reps will reinforce the technique you use. 

If you are training to failure, you are training to fail.

Dr Terry Todd,

You should make the five sets part of your day, spacing them out with a minimum of 15 minutes rest in between. A common technique is setting a timer at the top of each hour during work hours. You could do a set each time you sit down or stand up from the desk. Another alternative is to do a set when you pass a place in your house or even each time you open the fridge. 

Grease the groove

  1. Pick an exercise in which you want to become stronger, and you can do between 5 and six reps.
  2. Perform the exercise several times a day with two to three reps with at least 15 minutes break between each set.
  3. Blast the groove with the final rep of the last set.
  4. If you feel it the next day, take a day off and reduce the number of sets or reps the following day.

For my Single leg squat, I can only do one rep on each leg currently, so I need to find a regression that I can perform five to six reps with to use for my daily sets. I will use cossack squats for the next two-four weeks and then retest the number of single-leg squats I can do after all the practice.

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