Tue | May 21, 2019

Fit 4 Life | Healthy for the holidays greasing the grooves of fitness

Published:Thursday | January 10, 2019 | 10:03 PMMarvin Gordon/Contributor
The technique, which was popularized by strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline, is simple: pick an exercise which improves the skill you are trying to target, practice that move throughout the day, and repeat almost every day.

With the holidays in full swing, planning is the best thing you can do for your health and fitness. Chances are, you are going to be making new year's resolutions anyway, so why not put some thought into them?

Instead of the usual, 'I will lose X pounds' or 'I will look like X' declarations, setting performance goals could yield better results and keep you motivated.

Set yourself a physical feat you want to be able to achieve and work towards it.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

'Greasing the groove' is one tool that can work wonders for performance. The technique is a simple one: practice makes perfect. 

In pursuit of health and fitness, training is the go-to tool for improvement. When we train, we push our bodies in order to induce different types of adaptations – such as muscle growth – which result in improvement.

With the 'greasing the groove' technique, on the other hand, we treat components of fitness – such as strength – as skills which improve with practice. Basically, in the same way that you use practice to master skills such as driving or drawing, you can improve fitness through 'greasing the groove'.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

So how does it work? The technique, which was popularised by strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline, is simple: pick an exercise which improves the skill you are trying to target, practice that move throughout the day, and repeat almost every day.  

Tsatsouline advises working at 40 to 50 per cent of max effort and focusing on maintaining perfect form on each set. Working at such a low intensity reduces recovery time and prevents overtraining, thereby allowing you to practice as often without worry. 

This technique is perfect for even the busy Christmas season. You can go back to your gym or trainer fitter in the new year without breaking a sweat. Just take a minute every one-to-two hours to get in a few reps in.

Since they can be done anywhere – many people even do them at work – and require no equipment, compound bodyweight movements such as squats, lunges and pushups are the usual targets, however, any effective exercise can be used.

HOW MUCH TO DO

How much should you do? Keeping intensity and volume low is important to avoid overtraining. To improve upper-body strength-endurance using pushups, for example, you should not exceed half your maximum reps. Therefore, if you can do up to 30 pushups, your practice set should never exceed 15 reps. 

It is important to find a balance between training and practice.

‘Greasing the groove’ the day after a training session which uses the same muscles could lead to disaster. For example, after a heavy chest or shoulder workout, one should avoid practising pushups until the muscles have recovered adequately.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email: marvin.gordon@physiqueandfunction.com; yourhealth@gleanerjm.com