How to grease the groove (GtG) to learn any new skill in calisthenics, or whatever else you are learning
A scientifically proven method based on our nervous system
What is greasing the groove (GtG) in fitness?
Greasing the groove (GtG) is a training technique that involves the repetition of an exercise multiple times per day in order to improve or learn a particular skill. There is nothing difficult about GtG, all what you need to do is just repeat an exercise multiple times per day. It can be applied to anything you want to learn. For example, doing a handstand every hour or couple of hours throughout the course of a day.
GtG mirrors living in the wild
GtG replicates how we would live if we were back in the wild millions of years ago in the paleolithic era. Our ancestors depended on their physical performance at any time of day, such as when escaping from a predator or from a surprise attack from an opposing tribe. Their lives revolved around frequent high intensity activities over short time intervals throughout the course of the day. Our genetics wants us to be constantly on the move, whether hunting for animals, climbing trees or walking for hours in search of berries or a new settlement. This is ultimately why we get a dopamine rush whenever we do physical activity.
Millions of years ago, we may have needed to engage in physical activity at any moment of the day, We would not have been able to say “Oh sorry, I had a workout yesterday, so today is my rest day”. The rush of pleasure that we get from doing sport is our body telling us that we are doing all the right things to maximize our chances of survival based on our primitive nature. This is where GtG becomes so relevant, as it forces you to stay active throughout the day, just like living in the great outdoors would.
GtG in calisthenics
GtG is particularly applicable to calisthenics where you are looking to build strength to learn a new move.
The benefits of GtG
You could repeat a progression exercise multiple times per day, such as a front lever using an elastic band. This leads to less overall fatigue then a single workout, and gives your body more time to recover between sets compared to the normal workout with sets being held every couple of minutes.
GtG may mean that you do not need to do a traditional workout daily to see an improvement in your level, thus meaning that you have more time to focus on your other goals in your life. When you GtG, there is no time lost like when you walk around the gym waiting for your next set to begin. GtG to keep fit and healthy when you have an extremely hectic schedule and no time to go to the gym. Think of fitness like your calorie intake, it does not matter when you get your calories just as long as you get enough in the 24 hour period, the same principle applies for exercise.
Greasing the groove in calisthenics conditions your nervous system to get used to being under tension. If you space out your repetitions in a single training sessions over the course over day your body is going to become more familiar with being under stress, as electrical impulses will be fired over a greater time span.
The beauty of greasing the groove is that the repetitions add up with you not even realizing. If you repeat 8 pull ups once an hour over a 13 hour period, you finish the day with 104 reps with the click of your fingers, whilst avoiding the muscle congestion of doing them in a shorter time period as in a conventional workout.
GtG can also be used to complement full workouts. GtG allows you to work out every day and you may not even need rest days if you don’t push your body to the limit. Over time, due to the consistency in the training your body will become stronger, whilst avoiding the debilitating aches that come with a training session in which you have pushed yourself too far.
Every time we grease the groove, we get a little rush of dopamine and seratonin, which makes us feel good. It’s completely free and requires no prepayment like other hormonal stimulants, such as coffee and snacks.
There are very few rules with GtG, and it can be tailored to meet personal requirements. You can even grease the groove on a different exercise every day of the week to keep things fun, or do several exercises at the same time.
A set refers to each time you perform the exercise. You can either do a repetition based exercise, such as a push up or a pull up, or a time-based exercise, such as a plank or a front lever.
In terms of workload, either in reps or hold time, it is best to go up to 90 % of your max when you GtG to avoid over exhausting the body. You can also set your own time intervals between each set. It’s probably wise to start off easier and then shorter the time intervals between sets as required. You can also passively GtG, and perform an exercise every time you pass the pull up bar at home for example, with no strict schedule being in place.
GtG at work
You can also GtG at work to relax and to avoid keeping the body stationary for too long. This assumes that you have a working environment that allows for this where people will not frown at you. The majority of offices do not allow for exercise, but set an example and buy the necessary installations, such as a pull up bar. Do not worry, it is our innate nature to do exercise, so people will be soon queuing to try out the bar during the coffee break.
GtG to learn the piano or finally be able to touch your toes
Although GtG has gained popularity with calisthenics, the principle can be applied with literally any skill or goal. For example, you can use it with flexibility if you want to reach your toes and learn the splits, or with eye exercises if you need to improve your vision.
You can even use it for any other hobby not related to fitness, such as playing a musical instrument. Every time you pass your guitar or a piano in the house practice the last few bars that you are learning for a couple of minutes to see a spike in the rate of your improvement.
- The first thing you need to do is brainstorm your goals and objectives to decide what you want to improve at. Note down anything which seems interesting to you and order them in order of priority based on what you would like to achieve more. GtG these skills first.
- Research the required progression exercises and the steps you need to take to achieve the desired skill. Don’t go overboard on the research- just a rough plan is best to avoid procrastination and overthinking. The best way to learn is through practical experience.
- Make a schedule is required, particularly if you want to work on different exercises on different days.
- Set reminders wherever you are to not forget to GtG, this could be sticky notes or physical apparatus in proximity inside your working space. It’s hard to not pass a pull up bar and not get your attention draw to it.
- Don’t forget to warm up for a minute beforehand, particularly focusing on the wrists if you are doing a handstand.
300 Push Up Challenge
To gain an introduction to the grease the groove method, I suggest the 300 Push Up Challenge. Complete 20 push ups every hour over a 15 hour period to attain this goal. Set a timer on your phone to not miss a set. Good luck.