Grease the Groove

Chels & Lil Lebo
Chels & Lil Lebo

Custom Fit Meals will be hosting a FREE nutrition lecture on eating healthy and eating for performance TONIGHT in Southie Green tonight at 7pm.  Come on by!

Have you signed up for the In-House Throwdown yet? What are you waiting for?! We’ve got a fun Saturday planned for you with 3 WODs, beers and a BBQ to follow, and maybe a dunk tank in the parking lot with Coach DeDonno sitting in there. You don’t want to miss that! This is a friendly competition suitable for all ability levels. We’ve got a scaled and Rx division, so no reason not to get involved! Click here to sign up to compete, judge, or volunteer. We can’t wait to see you there!

Are you trying to increase your pullup numbers, or perhaps your number of unbroken pushups? I am sometimes asked by various Southie athletes what they can do to increase the number of XXX they can perform (pullups, pushups, handstand-pushups, etc). The simple answer I like to give is “Do lots of XXX (pullups, pushups, etc)”.

There is a (disputed) saying that to become an expert at something, you must practice/do that thing for 10,000 hours. While that is an obviously oversimplified saying, there is certainly some truth to it; whether that thing is speaking well in public, reciting physics theorems, or repping out lots of pullups, to become an expert, or at least very good, it takes lots of practice/ time/ and/or repetitions.

In the realm of exercise, there is a method known as GREASE THE GROOVE which aims to increase an athlete’s strength and performance in a specific exercise by adding in lots of volume. Grease the groove you ask? No I’m not talking about the greased pole contest held annually up in Gloucester, but the technique formally described by Russian Weightlifter and trainer Pavel Tsatsouline.

The basic idea behind GREASE THE GROOVE is that in addition to pure strength allowing an athlete to be proficient at an athletic movement, there is a requirement for the various muscles involved with the movement to work efficiently with the nervous system, basically having everything in your body working efficiently in concert together. This is formally known as “synaptic facilitation”, and this requires lots of volume of good repetitions of that movement.

In the GREASE THE GROOVE method, this requirement for lots of volume means doing the movement 4-6 days per week, perhaps 4-6 times per day. The key to this is always doing the movement fresh, and not going to failure. This method should not lead to overtraining and should not leave the athlete burned out or with any type of overuse injury. While this method can be used for almost any functional strength movement, it works especially well for bodyweight movements.

To ensure that the athlete is always fresh and not overtrained, the movement should not be performed to failure; for most movements including bodyweight exercises such as pushups or pullups, each set should be performed to only 50-80% of max reps.

Translating this to real life and not the theoretical, say you want to increase your pushup numbers, and your current max is 15 reps. The prescription would be doing 4-6 sets of around 8-12 pushups, 4-6 times per week for a month or so and then re-assessing your numbers. As this should not be done to failure, you do not need to be in your sexy crossfit gear in the gym. You could do the following for sets of pushups: 1: right after waking up 2: before leaving for work/class, etc. 3: lunch break 4: afternoon break 5: getting home from work/class, etc. 6: before dinner. No warmup required, no need to get changed, no stares from office co-workers (if you are subtle about it).

These reps should always be clean and full movements. There is no sense in cheating these movements if you are looking to increase your performance numbers.

What is also great about this is if you have been really busy with work, school, family, etc. and just have not had as much time to get into the gym, this method will still allow you to increase your numbers while only taking up a minimal amount of time.

What about pullups? I have this pullup bar in my basement which I use on days I am too busy to come into the gym. A set of 10 after I wake up, a set of 10 after getting my kids breakfast, etc.

So if you’re looking to increase your numbers on a certain exercise, think about this GREASE THE GROOVE method and how you could incorporate it into supplementing your training. Still not sure how this would work for you? Talk to one of your coaches about any movements you are looking to improve and how you could use this method to cleanly add in some more volume.
Pull-up/butterfly pull-up – Video
RX classes: Muscle-up – Video

10 Rounds
10 Box Jumps (24,20)
10 KettleBell Swings (2,1.5)
10 Wallballs
10 Pull-ups

Level 2- (1.5,1), 7 Rounds
Level 1- (1, 0.75), 5 Rounds

Conditioning Class WOD:
Every 2 Minutes for 10 Minutes
Sprint 200M

Rest 5 Minutes

Sprint 100M

3 Rounds
15 GHD Sit Ups
30 Russian Twists