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Greasing the Groove

Pavel Tsatsouline is a renowned strength coach, author of Power to the People and the man responsible for making Kettlebell training popular in the United States. His methods dive deeper into strength than conventional weight training principles do, exploring the nervous system and pushing the boundaries on what is possible. Strength supersedes muscle mass and needs to be addressed as such.

In Power to the People, Pavel introduces the idea of “Greasing the Groove”. This is the idea that repeatedly doing a few repetitions of an exercise at a lower intensity throughout the day will lead to strength gains. Each time you use a muscle, you are calling upon nerve impulses to relay the message from your brain to cause muscles to contract. The better you get with this “facilitation” the stronger you can become.

Pavel’s method is a departure from the past 20 years of fitness, where time efficiency has become so worshipped in physical training that Tabata protocols (8 sets of 20s hard, 10s rest) have been touted as the solution to all fitness needs. Instead, Pavel’s approach touches on systems of training that have been in place in many other disciplines for a very long time. Weightlifters from all walks of life, especially the Bulgarians, practiced with multiple training sessions every day. Martial artists and yogis have never limited their training to once or twice a week.

Here’s the protocol:

  • Pick an exercise that you wish to gain strength or add repetitions to. “Greasing the Groove” works best for bodyweight or calisthenics exercises.

  • Every 2-3 hours, do 3-5 repetitions of the exercise. Note: you should never go to fatigue during any of these sets. If one repetition is challenging enough, perhaps do assisted repetitions or negatives. The repetitions or weight should be 60% of your max, no more!

  • After three weeks test your strength. This is a guaranteed way to improve your squat, push-up, or pull-up. If you are struggling to do pistols, I highly encourage that you try Greasing the Groove with your pistol, or one-legged squat.

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Comment below on how the protocol has worked for you. Describe the exercise you have chosen and make sure to test yourself before you start “Greasing the Groove”.

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