Grease the Groove is a synaptic facilitation training protocol championed by Pavel Tsatsouline of RKC kettlebell fame. In this article we will dive into this training formula and explain why it works.
The science mumbo-jumbo broken down Barney-style.
Synaptic facilitation is the strengthening of neural plasticty in the central nervous system through repetition. Basically, we can increase muscular endurance by smoothing out the transmission process across neural pathways. Think of it this way: the individual electrical impulses guiding your ability to perform a specific movement like the pullup are bullets. And the interconnected synapses that follow the path of nerves used to perform that exercise are akin to individual guns. Each gun fires the bullet to the next, and repeating until the motion is complete.
Specificity + frequent practice = success” – Pavel Tsatsouline
Obviously, the more frequently you used a gun… the more accurate you become(hopefully), and the efficiency of each shot increases. The same is true with the inner working of the human body. Repetitive firing of synapses for a specific movement increase the efficiency of said movement.
Agility, speed, and coordination are those traits most closely associated with this type of neural or learned training, but new conclusions have been drawn that this same type of adaptability holds true for the development of strength endurance.
The practice through repetition idea is not new and is inherent to our ability, as humans, to develop new skills and sharpen existing ones. It is the backbone of most fitness programs, regardless of the desired outcome. Where Grease the Groove differs is in it’s approach to rest… It requires you to stop well before muscle or CNS(Central Nervous System) failure. The reason for this is simple: less fatigue allows for higher total daily reps, hence more practice of the movement to “grease” the nervous system.
For the avid CrossFitter, this will be a bit of shell-shock as we constantly drill INTENSITY=POWER!!!! And we are often left gasping for air and unable to move after each workout. We live, breathe, and die by the formula pictured above to increase endocrine response [http://www.crossfitalpha.com/index.php/Articles/comments/neuroendocrine-adaptation] and force adaptation. Grease the Groove is quite the opposite. We want to stack the deck for one particular movement and temporarily become a “specialist”. As long as the movements specialized in is one that resides in your everyday tool box, then the gains made should remain… even after you revert back to a general physical preparedness program such as CrossFit.
This specialization for the pullups will facilitate an increased work capacity of the single movement, thus increasing the reps we can perform in one set. With a little work, dedication, and help from your peers.. expect to see your pullup numbers double. If you can’t do any pullups, we are going to help with that and give you progression movements to achieve those first few, and then some.