We've all been in this situation before:

The colder weather is creeping in, the freezing walk to the gym is seemingly impossible, but you told yourself you are exercising today. If you do nothing else, you are exercising today. Now obviously in this situation I would advise get off your arse and jog there, BUT if you don't want to listen to that advice, perhaps you would listen to this advice instead.

Grease the Groove.

No this is not the spin off album from the 1978 hit film, it is in fact, a training method.

In brief, it is the idea of working the muscle frequently, but not to failure, and therefore 'greasing the groove'.

As soviet kettlebell and strength expert Pavel Tsatsouline said:

Muscle failure is more than unnecessary - it is counterproductive! Neuroscientists have known for half a century that if you stimulate a neural pathway, say the bench press groove, and the outcome is positive, future benching will be easier, thanks to the so-called Hebbian rule. The groove has been ‘greased’. Next time the same amount of mental effort will result in a heavier bench. This is training to success! The opposite is also true. If your body fails to perform your brain’s command, the groove will get ‘rusty’. You are pushing as hard as usual, but the muscles contract weaker then before! To paraphrase powerlifting champ Dr. Terry Todd, if you are training to failure, you are training to fail.

Pavel talking strength in his soviet inspired gym

Now I will be honest with you, I find training to failure has helped me build a lot of strength and muscle in the past. I find the workouts where I coast, don't benefit me nearly as much as really pushing the weights hard, however I have recently discovered the huge advantages of training frequency.

Frequency, in workout terms, means how often you train, or train a specific muscle group. The simple idea that if you train chest once a week, then switch to twice a week, you will get fitter and stronger as a result due to the increased stimulus. The problem comes when you are going so hard in your workouts, that you need a long time to recover, and then try and work the muscle again before it is fully recovered, and therefore fall in to the category of over-training.

However, if you don't take the muscle to failure, it recovers quicker, and you can train it more frequently.

Now, let's revert back to our situation. Too cold etc to go to the gym, can't face trying to hit those big weights, so let's grease the groove.

I use this method sometimes when I am working, and need to prioritise my time on work rather than the gym (would you believe it). This is a great training method when working from home, and trying to hit a deadline. One thing I did recently is I set a timer to go off every 5 minutes, each time it went off I did 25 push ups. This is not near my point of failure, and 5 minutes gives me more than enough time to recover. I did this 20 times in a row, which took an hour and 40 minutes. This would probably have been about the time it would have taken me to get dressed, get to gym, workout, shower and come back, but the difference was I carried on working, got all my stuff done, along with 500 push ups.

You could obviously do this with any exercise and you could rotate exercises. Let's say you want to build your glutes, do hip thrusts. You want those abs, do some sit ups, or maybe you have some dumbells and you want wider shoulders, then do lateral raises.

It's not a complete training method, but it is a very effective one for unique situations, and can work the muscle in a very different way than you have been, which can lead to great results.

And remember: Working out or keeping in shape doesn't have to be in your gym all the time. Master the body weight stuff at home (if the thought of trekking to the gym is too much) and these will feed into your resistance exercises in the gym.

Enjoy comrades.

 

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