Greasing the Groove

by on Oct.14, 2009, under Fitness

Everyone has that one movement that could use a little bit of work. For me, that thing is pull ups. For you, it could be push ups. Regardless of the type of movement, there is a method available to help you improve. It is called “Greasing the Groove”. A quick google search will turn up the origins of this, but I’ve primarily used it during my training through CrossFit.

The easiest way to explain “Greasing the Groove” (using pull ups as the movement) is to set up a pull up bar somewhere easily accessible to you and in a place that you will pass multiple times a day. Once this is done, just do a set of pull ups every time you walk under the pull up bar. The key here is to NOT PERFORM THE REPETITIONS TO MUSCLE FAILURE. This is incredibly important. What I would suggest you do is get a baseline score for the movement, i.e. how many reps you can perform in one set. Once that is done, calculate 25% to 30% of the total rep count. That is how many reps you should shoot for in each set. After you do the baseline, make sure your body is completely recovered prior to commencing a Greasing the Groove regimen.

Ideally, you’ll continue the program for three days, followed by one day of complete rest. Each three day grouping is 1 block. Every 5 blocks take three days off and re-evaluate your baseline. Rinse, lather, repeat.

REMEMBER: consistency is key with this program. If you’re doing kipping pull ups, do not switch over to dead-hang pull ups halfway through.

Also, make sure you do not over-train. If you’re doing 150/200 pull ups a day, don’t do a workout that hits the same muscle groups. If you’re doing 200-400 push ups a day, don’t try to do 3 sets of 5 heavy bench press.

“Greasing the Groove” vis a vis Parkour: You already see a lot of traceurs use this type of training. I mean, whenever a traceur sees a precision and/or something to wall-climb and/or something to jump from and/or something to vault, he or she usually will do it.

This repetition (which is at the heart of “Greasing the Groove”) basically greases the groove of your neural pathways and allows faster and more efficient communication between your brain and muscles thereby increasing your muscular endurance and stamina. For a much more detailed write-up (by folks smarter than me) check out this article by CrossFit Alpha.