Grease the Groove – 30-day push-up experiment

Is it possible to increase your strength by as much as 20% in just 30-days without ever breaking a sweat? Believe it or not, these types of GAINZ are said to be possible if you follow a method called “grease the groove”…

push up experiment (1)


I heard about “greasing the groove” many years ago reading the 4-hour body. Then it recently caught my attention (again) when I heard Pavel Tsatsouline the founder of StrongFirst on the Tim Ferris podcast discussing this method in greater detail. The idea behind “greasing the grove” is that by doing just a few “perfect” reps throughout the day, your strength will increase by improving your neuromuscular efficiency. The key according to Pavel is to “train often but never to failure”

Ok, it is one thing to read about this method and it is another thing to actually apply it, and that’s exactly what I want to do. I want to test this method out for myself. However, I don’t want to do this experiment alone, I am looking for volunteers (the more the merrier) to help me conduct a 30-day push-up experiment.

How it works

Day 1 – Perform as many perfect push-ups* as possible without stopping. This will be your baseline measurement. (For this experiment I want only push-ups on your toes – NO KNEE PUSHUPS! If you can’t do 1-push up on your toes elevate your upper body. The more you elevate your upper body the “lighter” you are).


Upper body Elevated pushup

(*If you want to learn more information on how to perform a perfect push-up check out this great blog by Chief StrongFirst Instructor Karen Smith. Bottom line – a perfect pushup means you creating “stiffness” throughout your body so it moves as one unit. No sagging or “humping the floor”. Also make sure you do full range of motion and pause momentarily at the bottom position before exploding up).

Ok, so you got your baseline measurement, now what? Take that baseline measurement and cut it in half (divide by 2). This number will be the maximum amount of pushups you will conduct at one time during the 30-day experiment.

For example, let’s say for your baseline measurement you did 20 perfect pushups you will now perform no more then 10 push-ups at one time.

For this experiment I want you to do 5-sets of push-ups per day for the first 14-days and 6-sets of push-ups for the last 14-days. The key to this experiment is maximum rest between sets. This means at least 1-hr rest between sets (see below for greater detail).

Not a requirement at all- but as a guide, I recommend push ups at

  • 6am
  • 8am
  • 10am
  • Noon
  • 2pm
  • 4pm
  • 6pm
  • 8pm

This is eight times a day– not five– so you can skip the first couple or last, or miss some in the middle. Of course, you can go any 5 times during the day, as long as they are at least 1-hour apart.

Days 2 – 15:

  • Perform 5-sets of pushups per day, 6-days a week.
  • This equals 50 pushups per day for a total of 300 push-ups for the week (using above example).

Days 16-29:

  • Perform 6-sets of pushups per day, 6-days a week.
  • This equals 60 pushups per day for a total of 360 push-ups for the week (using above example).

Day 30:

  • Retest you push-up max

Experiment Summary

  • Day 1 – Determine push-up max
  • Divide your day 1 push-up max by 2 – This is the amount of pushups to be performed each and every set.
  • Perform your pushups 6 days a week (rest one day a week)
  • Days (2  – 15) – Perform 5 sets of push-ups per day with at least 1-hr break between sets
  • Days (16 – 29) – Perform 6 sets of push-ups per day with at least 1-hr break between sets
  • Day 30 – Retest you push-up max (hopefully your pushup max has increased)

A Few More Details

To signup –  Email your baseline pushup measurement to with the subject line “Grease the Groove Baseline”. From there- you will receive an invite into a private facebook group. We will use the group to check in on each other and keep everyone on the gainz train.

Thank you in advance for participating. I look forward to seeing your results!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s