Grease the Groove

Around 12 years ago, just as CrossFit was beginning to take off, kettlebell lifting was also getting very popular. There were different organisations offering certifications, led by the Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC). The RKC in turn was spearheaded by a charismatic ex-Spesnatz (Russian special forces) soldier by the name of Pavel Tsatsouline.

Tsatsouline is known for his no-nonsense style of communication as well as a deep knowledge of training. I would recommend you all to check out his articles and interviews online, as well as any of his books.

Once of Tsatouline’s concepts which I personally took to heart and used with great results was something called “greasing the groove”. Greasing the groove is based around the idea that you can build strength by performing certain movements with great frequency. So instead of doing 5 sets of 10 pull ups in one session, you could do 10 sets of 3 pullups, but spread out over the entire day

I won’t try to explain the entire concept in my own words as I will probably make a mess of it. Instead you can check out an article here or take a look at the video below.

The point is that greasing the groove is an awesome way to improve certain movements, for example push ups and pull ups. Considering we are all stuck at home right now, a simple grease the groove program is ideal to make some gains over the next few weeks.
So how do you set it up? Its very simple! Do a max set of push ups and see how many you can get with good form. If you can’t do more than 5, do your push ups on an elevated surface like a chair or sofa.

I can do 25 push ups with decent form, so I am going to use this as my base number.
Next step is to set a simple daily target. Based off my number of 25, I am going to set myself a target of 5 sets of 10 push ups, spread out over the course of the day. Now that might sound pretty easy, but that is 100% the point! Every set you do to grease the groove has to be easy. If you are grinding out reps it won’t work.

Let’s bear in mind that this is not a workout. It’s just extra “work” that you do over the course of a day.

As with any plan, we must have progression included. So after 1 week I am going to add reps to my total. Either this can be done per set, so 5 sets of 12. Or I can add sets and do 7 sets of 10. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but the total number of reps must go up and all sets must be performed easily.

Pull ups are great for this too if you have access to a pull up bar. Alternatively you can do it with ring rows if you have access to rings or a TRX. Another good movement you can use is hollow rocks.