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Grease the Groove (GTG training method): The best way to do more Pull ups, Push ups and increase strength.

What is GTG?
Pavel Tsatsouline

Greasing the groove is a strength training method popularized by Russian fitness author and coach,Pavel Tsatsouline, one of the world’s premier strength and conditioning coaches and former trainer of the Russian special forces. (For more information on Pavel and some of his unconventional training check out his books, The Naked Warrior or Power to the People).

Contrary to the belief of most Western bodybuilders, who believe strength comes purely from larger muscles, the Russian philosophy is that in addition to strength being somewhat correlated to muscle size, strength is also a skill.

Like with any other skill, the ‘skill of strength’ should be practiced, because as we all know, practice makes perfect. The principle of this training technique revolves around the simple equation Pavel came up with to explain the technique:

Specificity + frequent practice = success

To become a defter football player you have to practice football. To become a better chef, you have to practice cooking. To become a more masterful guitarist you have to practice guitar.
So if you want to get good at pull ups, why not try to do... a lot of pull ups?

Key points for a GTG routines

Not Training to Failure - Perfect Practice

One of the biggest keys in the above statement is how important it is to not train to muscle failure. As said in the previous part, strength is a skill. A skill is not learned by completing it over and over until muscle fatigue sets in.

Frequent Greasing
One of the big keys in GtG is frequent work of the same exercise. It may seem counter-intuitive as we often hear how we need to avoid overtraining. However, if we are not training to failure our bodies can afford to do the same exercises again either later that day or the next day.

Again, we are training the nervous system to utilize our muscles to the fullest capacity. Similar to learning a language, if you only use it once a year we will not retain it very well. However, if we are immersed in a foreign country and use language frequently throughout the day we will learn it quicker.

Design basic GTG workout

GTG works well with any exercises, especially with bodyweight exercises like Push up or Pull up because you can perform it at anytime and anywhere without any equiment.
Here is a basic GTG training cycle with Pull up - one of the best upper body exercises.
  • Pick a pull-up exercise that you can perform with excellent technique for at least a few reps (e.g. pull-ups, chin-ups, negative reps, flexed-arm hang, etc.).
  • Perform several sets of pull-ups throughout the day, several days per week (e.g. 5-10+ sets per day, for 4-7 days per week).
  • Make sure all sets are performed at a sub-maximal intensity (e.g. 40-80% of your maximum effort) and only when you’re feeling fresh.
  • Ideally, give yourself at least 15-60+ minutes between sets.
  • For best results, gradually increase the total number of reps you perform each day (e.g. Day 1 = 20 total reps, Day 2 = 22 total reps).
  • However you accomplish those reps is up to you (e.g. 5 sets of 8 reps, 10 sets of 2 reps, 20 sets of 1 rep, etc.).
  • Do NOT train to muscle failure, or anywhere near it.
  • For best results, stick with just one exercise to focus on for each grease the groove training cycle.
  • Take a day or two off whenever necessary.
  • Follow this routine for at least 2-4 weeks, and up to two months, before stopping or changing exercises
After two months training, take some day offs and test your max reps. I guarantee you will suprise with the result.

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