Greasing the Groove

I’d never heard of this terminology, although I occasionally practice it while covering an event from my shed. With the amount of sitting (or standing) I do while typing into a digital rectangular box, I’d go bonkers without a little movement, a few pushups every now and then. Apparently there’s a term for this and it’s called greasing the groove.

Here’s an explanation.

Greasing the groove, as Tsatsouline explains it, means not working your muscles to the point of failure. A common idea in weightlifting is that you should lift until you can’t do another rep, purposely damaging muscle tissues so they grow back bigger. But muscle failure, Tsatsouline writes in his 1999 book, Power to the People! Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American, “is more than unnecessary—it is counterproductive!”

Instead, Tsatsouline advocates lifting weights for no more than five repetitions, resting for a bit between sets and reps, and not doing too many sets. For a runner, this would be like going for a four-mile jog, but taking a break to drink water and stretch every mile. Tsatsouline’s book suggests spending 20 minutes at the gym, tops, five days a week. In this way, he claims, you grease the neurological “groove,” or pathway, between your brain and the exercises your body performs. It’s not exactly the brutal routine you’d expect from someone billed as a Soviet weight lifter. But Tsatsouline contends this is the most effective way to build strength.

[The Atlantic]

Pushups are an easy example here, and so is stretching. This is also one reason I want to get a pullup bar in whatever the next iteration of my shed looks like.

h/t Kottke