Greasing the groove is a training principle used to increase neurological pathways, gain strength and improve your ability to do an exercise. It involves practicing the exercise with many sets but with low reps, as to never bring the muscles to exhaustion. If you’re someone who finds themselves struggling with a certain movement, like pull ups for example, greasing the groove could be the training technique you need. Here’s why:
How to Grease the groove?
Let’s use pull ups as an example. If you would like to get better at pull ups (be able to do more with better form) then you should first figure out what your “max reps” with good form are. Let’s say that you give it a try and find out that you can do a maximum of 10 pull ups with good form before no longer being able to complete another rep. Now, take half of that, so 5 pull ups with perfect l form, and perform those multiple times a day with ample time to rest inbetween.
For example, wake up and do 5 pull ups first thing in the morning, then your next set around 2 hours later after all your morning meetings are out of the way. You would then continue this, doing your next set of 5 reps 2 hours later right before lunch, repeating the process throughout the day.
Having a trigger, or something that you walk past multiple times every day, (such as a pull up bar on the door of your office, or a tree branch outside your apartment) can be a very helpful reminder. Greasing the Groove can be done everyday, as it does not fully wear out your muscle. With this being said, you should still listen to your body, and take regular rest days when you need them. Keep in mind that it is better to do less reps with perfect form than to force more reps with poor form or injury.
Why grease the groove?
The purpose of greasing the groove is to strengthen the neural pathways between the brain and the muscles required to perform the exercise. Just like learning to play a new instrument, it is more effective to practice multiple times a day for shorter periods because you don’t get tired of it and the brain has enough time to make the neural connections it needs in between sessions. The same applies for learning new exercises. The main focus during these reps should be perfect form. The better the form is, the better your brain learns the movement.
Greasing the groove is not focused on huge muscle gains but rather specific muscle strength, skill and expertise of a movement. Because greasing the groove focuses only on that one exercise you’ve been practicing, don’t expect your ability to do other exercises to improve greatly too. It’s a great method if you want to finally master a new movement or earn a new PB or star for a certain workout. Greasing the groove fosters best results when first learning a new movement and when your max reps are under 15. Once your max reps go above 15, greasing the groove will help with perfecting your form but won't necessarily build sufficient muscle to continue increasing your “max reps” (of course, everybody is different, so you will need to try it and see what it does for you). That being said, you could then start greasing the groove with a more advanced version of the exercise, or by adding additional resistance. Additional resistance can be added using either a weight belt or weighted vest. Greasing the groove takes dedication but fosters huge results, there is no reason not to give it a try! Get greasing and finally achieve those damn hard exercises.