Part 2: Greasing The Groove
“Greasing the what now?!” was my first thought.
Then I realised that a life long habit I have, and probably unknown numbers of others have had over the millennia, now has a name. Greasing the Groove. Nice to be in fashion I guess.
But before we proceed …
THE SAFETY AND HEALTH WARNING
Before we proceed, we want you to understand that these articles and the content we provide are based on simple daily increments and it is EXTREMELY important not just for understanding what success is but also how not to injure yourself. (i.e. it’s not success)
As a Million Step Participant, you have already agreed to our health and guidelines on safety. BUT we ask that you read them again HERE.
For anyone else reading this, again, we ask that you use common sense, do only what you can and also read our guidelines HERE.
Greasing the Groove.
We will keep this one short. Because it’s actually a very simple age long concept before we had HiiT, or Booty Burn, or Tums and Bums, F45, P90X, Insanity, Jazzercise, Buns Of Steel or whatever is or has been in vogue (here’s a list of past and current fads: The 51 Biggest Diet and Exercise Fads of the Past Century)
But remember, everyone needs to sell something. Something new. And often they do help to get you moving. Even Jazzercise.
Or we can stick to the essentials, repetition, persistence and habit. In short bursts, not forcing it and ditching gung ho war cries like No Pain, No Gain.
The term was coined by Belarusian strength training legend and father of the kettlebell, Pavel Tsatsoline, in his book “Power to the People.”
Greasing the groove, as Tsatsouline explains it, can be defined as exercising with low reps or performing activities for a short duration without exhausting the body or the muscles to failure
Tsatsoline claims, we need to grease the neurological “groove,” or pathway, between your brain and the exercises your body performs in small incremental steps so that the brain learns the movement, you begin to have better form and in doing so, slowly improve the routine, build more strength and are able to do more. His formula is simple:
SPECIFICITY + FREQUENCY = SUCCESS
Ha! And the funny thing is, it was something that many people did all their lives in the pre-gym days. A little, with persistence, repetition and slow improvement. Every day, and sometimes more than once a day.
It was what James Clear did with his minimum of one push up a day.
Ben Greenfield, in his book Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life, describes it brilliantly:
“ … I had a pull-up bar installed in my office doorway, and every time I walk under that bar, I do three to five pull-ups. With perfect form. I’m not training to failure, and I’m not beating up my shoulders with excessive repetitions.
I am simply doing an extremely submaximal number of pull-ups (and yes, I started with one). So I grease the groove daily with pull-ups, and by the end of the day, I’ll usually have performed thirty to fifty.
This concept works because performing a movement frequently causes your neuromuscular system to become better at allowing your body, your nerves and your muscles to work in sync to perform that movement more efficiently, and over time the movement becomes natural and more economical to perform. When that happens, you’re able to maintain better form and do more repetitions …
… But by the end of the day, you’ll discover that you’ve actually been engaged in low-level, endurance-building physical activity throughout the entire day, without actually stepping foot into a gym or performing a structured workout.
By greasing the groove, you are indeed replicating the ancestral-athlete approach of moving constantly during the day with brief intense spurts of intense physical activity. (Source: including other activities ben takes during the day using Greasing the Groove here)
Reasons why the Greasing the Groove method is a great way forward.
- It’s not as daunting than trying to face a whole 45 min class. You build it up over a period of time. (NOTE: It still means you need to come back to it every day, many times a day)
- It’s less stressful and fatiguing on the body. This means you can do simple short routines every day (or what you can without forcing it at any point). You may even be able to do it a few times a day.
- Many exercises actually require stability, flexibility, balance, muscle control and often a combination of all of them at the same time. By using Greasing the Groove, doing routines as efficiently as possible, and not forcing your way forward, you give the mind and body a chance to learn how to bring all those skills together at the same time. And when you can do that, you begin to have good form. And good form is efficiency.
- It makes you ACTION READY. If you go to the gym or do your long routines just once or twice a week in the gym, what you will notice is that you do spend a lot of time doing a warm-up. By Greasing the Groove throughout the day, you are action ready for any more strenuous activities that you may have to undertake. Lifting a heavy box, running to catch the bus, or even climbing up the stairs. You have been greasing the groove all day and are going to have greater dexterity and flexibility than the usual stiffness.
Why is this important?
Because from this point onwards we are going to be dropping in our Everyday Strength and Conditioning Exercises.
And we want you to take them in small chunks and do them without forcing them.
Just because it’s a 15-minute routine, does not mean you have to complete it all the very first time you try it.
It does not mean you failed if you could not do it all
You have the rest of your life to be an expert at it.
But every time you come back to them, just do what you can and stop.
And come back again to it later in the day or the next day.
And keep doing it till one day you make it to the end.
If you don’t like a routine or cannot do it. That’s fine, substitute it or just jog on the spot. Or just stop altogether.
And come back to it again.
It’s that simple.
Give your body, and importantly your brain, the chance to slowly build up the strength, dexterity, pattern recognition and knowledge they need.
You’ll Grease Your Groove.
You’ll build endurance.
You’ll bring mindful awareness to each activity that you do.
You’ll build patience with yourself.
And you’ll just keep getting fitter.
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