Want to Massively Increase the Reps You Can Do on Different Exercises? Try “Greasing the Groove”
People measure their fitness in all kinds of different ways. By testing and recording their one rep maxes, by seeing how quickly they can run a mile, or by keeping a track of their increased flexibility thanks to their yoga or gymnastic routines.
All that being said, though, being able to break through a rep count plateau, and do far more repetitions of an exercise than you were ever able to do before, is not only a good way of tracking progress, it’s also a great way of showing off to your friends, and of feeling like an absolute machine.
There are various programs out there that attempt to improve how many reps you can do at a given exercise. The 30 day squat challenge from Nutrition Realm is one example.
A weirder, and more uncommon approach, however, comes from the well-known strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline. It’s called “greasing the groove” and involves doing a few reps of an exercise at a time, continually throughout the day.
Here are some things to know about this technique.
Greasing the groove is all about sharpening up the neurological adaptations to exercise
Pavel describes “greasing the groove” in terms of developing strength as a skill, rather than as a muscular breakdown and repair process.
He takes the idea from Soviet-era strongmen and weightlifters, but it’s also backed by modern science, particularly in the sense of increasing neurological adaptations for different exercises.
According to the basic concept of “greasing the groove,” the more reps you perform throughout the day, each day, without going to failure, the more you train your neurological system to exert maximum muscular tension during exercise.
Just be sure to really “tense up” during each rep.
By greasing the groove, your muscles may not get bigger, but you will hypothetically become a lot more efficient at recruiting as many motor units as possible, for each exercise.
Greasing the groove allows you to push through plateaus, without burning yourself out
Often, when people hit plateaus in their weightlifting routines, they will absolutely burn themselves out in the attempt to push through those plateaus.
Long, drawn-out “clinic” workouts to absolute and total failure are pretty when attempting to overcome those plateaus.
Of course, that’s a lot of stress to put on your body, and it can lead to a greater risk of injury, as well as overall emotional and psychological burnout and illness.
Greasing the groove allows you to push through plateaus, without burning yourself out. Instead of going to total failure, you simply work on the “skill” of the lift over, and over, and over again, while staying relatively fresh.
Greasing the groove can be a great way of consolidating your gains before moving on
Greasing the groove can help you to really consolidate your gains, and get to a place where you are comfortable performing a certain number of reps for a given exercise. This is often really useful in helping your central nervous system to “catch up” before you try to increase weight again.
No one can keep adding weight to the bar indefinitely. But it’s definitely easier to do if you aren’t losing strength, and performing fewer reps, with each workout.
Greasing the groove might also be useful in helping to consolidate your gains before any type of race or competition. For example, by helping you to hit a new PR in your next workout.