Greasing The Groove

Posted by Jason Pak on

Greasing the Groove (GTG) is a concept that was first introduced to me by Pavel Tsatsouline, the founder of StrongFirst, in his book Power to the People. It was also the first time that I truly understood the phrase “strength is a skill”. As with any skill, developing strength is all about patience, practice, and consistency. During my earlier years as a lifter; however, I only thought about how much weight was on the bar or how many repetitions I could do until I reached absolute failure.

Enter Greasing the Groove. GTG is basically a way to mindfully practice and rehearse the movement you’re trying to get better at. Let’s take a movement like pull-ups. Let’s say Sally could perform a total of 5 strict pull-ups at any given time. If Sally performed multiple sets and went to failure every time, her workout might look like this:

Set 1: 5 repetitions

Set 2: 4 repetitions

Set 3: 2 repetitions

Set 4: 0 repetitions

Total: 11 repetitions

As you can see, the number of pull up repetitions Sally could do decreased dramatically over the course of the three sets and she didn’t have any gas left in the tank for the fourth set. Furthermore, her form was more than likely deteriorating as well, which would at best lead to inefficient practice, and at worse lead to injury over time. Not only that, she’ll most likely need a longer period of time to recover from the stress put on her body.

A better way to train her pull-ups would be to perform her pull-ups in sets of three. By staying well below her max for the sets, she is able to stay fresh and bust out more pull-ups than fewer all out sets. On the 6th set, even though she could probably eke out a third rep, she decides to not compromise her form and stops the set short and ends her workout there. This type of patience allows Sally to stay fresh, which means she can train pull-ups much more frequently.

Set 1: 3 repetitions

Set 2: 3 repetitions

Set 3: 3 repetitions

Set 4: 3 repetitions

Set 5: 3 repetitions

Set 6: 2 repetitions

Total: 17 repetitions

Greasing the Groove can take place in a single workout or throughout the entire day. It’s all about rehearsing perfect repetitions as opposed to beating your muscles into oblivion or compromising form in order to reach a certain weight or repetition goal. This long term approach will lead to a lifetime of progress while also minimizing the risk of injury while doing so.

Move

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