Grease the groove: The skill of strength

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…than most people do in 60 minutes at the gym

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Don’t have time to workout today?

Have days where you feel like you have exactly zero time to get a workout in?

I know I certainly do. Life is busy. There is no way around that. Fortunately for us there are ways to “sneak” in exercise throughout the day.

I want to introduce you to a concept called “Grease the Groove” (GTG).

I first heard about greasing the groove while reading The Naked Warrior by: Pavel Tsatsouline. Pavel makes the argument that strength is a skill. And like any skill, one needs to practice it regularly to become proficient. This is where greasing the groove comes in.

greasethegroove←GTG snippet from The Naked Warrior. 

What is Greasing the Groove?

Greasing the groove consists of practicing one exercise frequently throughout the day for sub-maximal repetitions. To explain let me give you an example. Say you can perform 20 pushups with good form. To grease the groove you would simply perform sets of 6-10 pushups numerous times throughout the day, with perfect form.

The magic is in the sub-maximal sets. By purposely not going to failure on any set, you keep energy in the tank for the next set. You will be surprised at how quickly those frequent sub-maximal sets add up. We’ll take a look at specific examples on how to use this in just a second. 

Greasing the groove teaches your muscles to fire more efficiently. Due to the frequent practice you are essentially greasing your neurological pathways to perform that movement with less effort. 

How many repetitions should I perform per set of GTG?

This number will vary from person to person. Below are the two most important GTG principles to remember: 

•Use sub-maximal repetitions to prevent fatigue

•Use perfect form with every repetition.

Nevertheless if I have to put a number on it I would say between 2-10 reps is perfect for one GTG set. 

Remember, the goal is accumulation of perfect repetitions throughout the day.

How can you implement GTG training into your day?

Implementing GTG into your day is surprisingly easy, and only limited by your imagination. I’ll give you a few examples how I use GTG throughout my day.

I have a Perfect Fitness pullup bar hanging in my closet door. Every time I walk past the pullup bar I knock out between 3 and 5 slow, controlled pullups. Over the course of a day I’ll accumulate between 30-60 pullups. Again, to reiterate, the magic is in the sub-maximal reps. I never feel sore or fatigued after this.

perfectpullup ←My perfect pullup doorway rig

Another method that I use is the “every hour on the hour” technique. I simply watch the clock. At the top of each hour I perform 5-10 reps of the movement I am using that day. Again, you will be surprised at the total number of reps you will accumulate each day.

Can I grease the groove at the office?

Yes! Absolutely! By all means!

You can use the GTG technique in the same fashion at the office, as I use it to accumulate pullups in my room. How about every time that you stand up from your chair you do 5-10 air squats? How about 2 burpees instead? 

To add a layer of creativity you can breakup the week into different exercises. For example say that on Mon/Wed/Fri when you stand up from your chair you perform air squats. Use Tu/Th to perform pushups then.



What if my co-workers give me weird looks? Can I still GTG?

Look, as long as you won’t get fired for doing a couple burpees or air squats at the office throughout the day, who cares what other people think. You should be doing this because you are committed to improving your fitness. 

However, if you really do care what your co-workers think, save greasing the groove for at home practice. All the same principles still apply, but now you’ll be in the privacy of your home. If you do exactly zero greasing the groove at work set a challenge for yourself while at home. During every commercial break of your show accumulate 6 lunges, 5 squats, and 5 pushups. Even just greasing the groove during commercials of a one hour show, will still yield a fair number of repetitions. 

What are the advantages of using GTG?

We have covered quite a few advantages in the above text. However, I’ll quickly summarize them again:

•No equipment needed. Just your bodyweight.

•Time efficient/ easy to perform throughout the day

•Little to no soreness if done correctly

•Accumulate a lot of quality work throughout the day

Are there any disadvantages to using Grease The Groove?

Unfortunately, yes, there are few “disadvantages” of GTG.

First, you’re really only getting better at the exercise you are performing. There may be a little carry over to other exercises, but for the most part if you are doing pushups, you’re only getting better at pushups.

Second, because of the small amount of carry over between exercises, grease the groove is more of a supplementation technique, rather than a stand alone exercise program. You should use GTG in conjunction with your actual exercise program, not in replace of it.

Can I use other exercises, besides bodyweight, for GTG?


As a matter of fact I have a friend who used to perform 3-5 kettlebell swings every time he walked past the kettlebell at his house. He would do this right in his living room. 

You can use kettlebell, dumbbell, or even barbell exercises as part your GTG program. Bodyweight exercises are the most convenient and safest to use, but by no means do you need to limit yourself to just bodyweight movements. Just keep the GTG principles in mind (perfect form and low reps). 

Closing thoughts

Greasing the groove is an excellent technique. I highly encourage everyone to use GTG, especially on those extra busy days that life throws at us.

What I really want you to take-a-away from this article is that there are ways to improve your fitness, even when you don’t think you have the time.

Not every workout needs to be structured in the comfort of a gym. Grease the groove is the perfect way to “sneak in” extra reps each day. 

Give it a shot!

Burn more calories in 20 minutes from home…
…than most people do in 60 minutes at the gym

Find out how by grabbing the [FREE] high intensity home workout guide below:

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