Grease the Groove Push-up Experiment Results.

push up experiment (1)

On May 9, 2016 I started the Grease the Groove Push-up experiment (read about the experiment details here). Well it has been 30-days and the results are in and quite frankly they are amazing!

Garett Renon pushup experiment grease the groove

May 9th, 2016 (Finding my baseline)

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)


There were 17 people that completed the experiment and nearly all had improvements well above 20%. Well everyone except me (LOL). I was able to crank out 2 more for a 6.7% increase. While I don’t like to make excuses, my excuse is that on Monday June 6, 2016 I completed my StrongFirst Snatch Test. The result? I am now a certified StrongFirst Kettlebell instructor! That’s the great news, the not so good news, is that my body was so sore and tired from the test that it took everything I had to crank out 2 more pushups. It’s all good, because an improvement no matter how small is still an improvement so I will take it!!!

Ok now lets look at the results of everyone else (see figure below).

Garett's Pushup experiment results.

Average improvement was 74%

As you can see all 17 people where able to increase the amount of push-ups and some made unbelievable progress progress. In fact the average strength (pushup) increase was nearly 74%! This is incredible!

Final Verdict

The grease the groove method works!!! So if you want to improve your pushups, “train often, but never to failure” or in other words “stimulate but don’t annihilate”!


Too Much Of A Good Thing? How Working Too Hard Can Cause You To Regress (The Lia Santini update).

“More is not better, it is just more”…

As I write this blog it is exactly 1-year to the day since I started training Lia Santini.

Wondering how that year went?

Well, for the first 7-months everything was going great (read about it here), she was building muscle, losing body fat, and increasing her strength.

Then we hit a roadblock!

Lia's 6-month results

Lia’s 6-month results (May 2015-Nov 2015)

That roadblock was our yearly 40-in-40 event…

Every year we (CKO/2.0) kickoff the New Year by challenging our members to workout everyday for 40 days… If 40-workouts in 40-days sounds a little extreme to you, that’s probably because it is, however it’s safe and doable. Most people live extremely sedentary lives which means working out once-a-day, especially on a short term basis, can have phenomenal benefits. But Lia is not “most people”…

A little background on Lia. She is a former Division 1 (D-1) swimmer, which means, she is an elite athlete. How elite? Well according to the website only 3% of high school women go on to compete at the Division 1 level. In other words, you don’t become a D-1 swimmer by doing the bare minimum, you become a D-1 swimmer by working extremely hard every single day for years. So it should come as no surprise that the mindset of “HARD WORK” or “outwork your competition” has been forged into Lia’s psyche over a lifetime of high level competition!  So to make a long story short – Lia did 81 workouts in 40 days!!!

University of the Pacific Swimming

Lia swimming for University of the Pacific

In case you were wondering, doing 81 workouts in 40 days was not my idea, in fact I would never recommend this type of behavior to anyone (LOL)! At the start of the 40-in-40 there was a switch that flipped and you could see that competitiveness once again emerge. Lia was determined to not only get to 40 workouts faster than anyone, she was also going to do more. This is the type of competitiveness is what usually separates the Division-1 athletes from the weekend warriors.

So, Lia was successful in her quest to “win” the 40-in-40, but she paid a hefty price. The price was a fatigue, constant soreness, plantar fasciitis, gut irritation and lack of motivation all of which are symptoms of overtraining. As a result Lia lost nearly all of the progress we made over the last six months.

CKO Kickboxing Seattle Lia Santiti

But there is good news!

We were able to document all this using a total body measurement device. Why is this good news? Because, as the old saying goes: “if it doesn’t get measured it doesn’t get managed” and having this data allowed us to go back and further analyze what happen and when it happen. This is powerful stuff!

The device used for these measurements was the TANITA DC-430U* multi-frequency body composition analyzer.

*For the record; this machine is a great device although it’s not perfect.  There are a lot of factors and assumptions used by the equations that produce the measured results. However! If you take enough measurements at the same time of day these machines are very good at showing trends.

So let’s look at the trends:


Tanita results

Lia’s Body fat percentage

As you can see, Lia’s body fat was on a fairly consistent downward trend till January 28, 2016. Then after January 28, 2016 you can see a sharp increase in body fat. What’s the significance of January 28th? Well, this was 28-days into the 40-in-40 challenge which meant Lia had already done 56 workouts!

tanita results metabolic age

Lia’s metabolic age

Then when we look at Lia’s Metabolic age you see the same trend before and after January 28.

Tanita results weight

Lia’s weight

When looking at the trends of Lia’s weight the critical day was January 5, 2016. This was 5 days into the 40-in-40 and Lia had completed 10-workouts. Our weight is easily influenced so it makes since that Lia’s weight would start to trend-up before the other factors were affected.

The reason training too much or overtraining (as it’s called in the industry) destroys progress is because the body never has a chance to properly recover. Every time we workout we cause microtrauma to our muscles and inflict small amounts of stress on our central nervous system. When paired with proper rest these small amounts of microtrauma and stress are really beneficial, it’s what makes us stronger. But too much stress (mental or physical) over an extended period of time will break us down, literally!

So what have we done since analyzing this data? We cut down Lia’s workload to 5-days a week. That’s right, we are including rest days (interesting concept, right?). But its not just about including rest days, it’s about understanding of the importance of REST DAYS . And without the measured data from the TANITA convincing Lia to include 2-rest-days-a-week would have been a much harder task. Because every hardcore fitness fanatic cringes at the idea of taking any time off (can you relate to this?). This is because we are constantly bombarded with the same messages from the fitness industry; “train harder, longer, more often with greater intensity, etc”.

What’s the takeaway?

Rest days are important!!! If you workout too hard for too long you will REGRESS. Just ask Lia 😉

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!

The original fitness tracker, might still be the BEST

Lifting weights is more than just “picking stuff up and putting it back down”, it’s also the original (and possibly the best) fitness tracker.

In today’s world we love DATA. Think about all the data producing gadgets available; from Fitbits to heart rate monitors to GPS trackers, it is obvious that we love tracking our progress. And for good reason, because” if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. It’s true, tracking our “fitness results” can lead to quicker progress, because if gives us insight to what is working and whats is not working. However there is a simpler and possibly even more effective way to measure progress and it doesn’t require purchasing yet another device. All this method requires is you and some IRON!  It’s as old school as it gets…


Lifiting that “IRON”

One of the BEST weight lifting quotes around is from Henry Rollins:

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds”. 

Read that quote again.

Two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds; it is a great reference point. I love this!

See, lifting heavy “stuff” (barbell, kettlebells, etc) tells you something about yourself. It tells you if you getting stronger, weaker, or remaining stagnant? In other words, picking up something heavy immediately let’s you know if you are getting BETTER, WORSE, or REMAINING THE SAME!

Are your movements becoming better?

Are your movements becoming better or worse?

This is a huge piece of information!

If you are remaining stagnant or getting worse (basically the same thing) you need to find out WHY! Because this means what you are doing isn’t working for some reason. Once you know something isn’t working you can start the investigation:

  • Are you eating right?
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Are you working out consistently?
  • Are you getting enough recovery between workouts?
  • Are you surrounding yourself with the right training partners?
  • Are you on the right training program?
Likewise, if you are getting stronger, you know that what you are doing is working and you should continue doing what you have been doing.
Are you lifting more or less than you were last month, last year?

Are you lifting more or less than you were last month, last year?

However STRENGTH is not the only piece of information the IRON gives you, it can also tell you if your ENDURANCE is getting better, worse or remaining the same. How? Well, can you lift a particular weight for a longer or shorter amount of time?

The IRON also tells you about your POWER OUTPUT. Can you lift a particular weight faster or slower?

It also tells you about TECHNIQUE. Are your movements becoming more or less efficient?

It also tells you about lifting KNOWLEDGE. Is your understanding of a particular movement getting better, worse or remaining the same?

IRON the original fitness tracker

IRON it’s the original fitness tracker

So there you have it, the original fitness tracker might still be the best because it will never lie to you,two hundred pounds will always be two hundred pounds and your ability to lift (or not lift) those “two hundred pounds” tells you a lot about yourself and your training methods. It gives you instant feedback, letting you know if you are getting better, worse, remaining the same . It is the ultimate measurement of progress. So before you buy yet another device get out there and pick up some heavy stuff and pay attention to what the IRON is telling you!




1 + 2 = FUN! Kettlebell Workout # 7

If you are short on time, I have a challenging kettlebell workout that will work your entire body and leave drenched in sweat and gasping for air in less than 30-mins. After finishing this workout you might change the name to 1 + 2 = BUTT KICKED.

This workout consists of:

  • 5 cleans + 5 press + 5 squats + 5 press + 15 swings.

This workout is a flow. This means you don’t set the kettlebell down during the cleans, press, squat, and press.

This is how it works:

Start with the right arm, do 5 right-arm cleans, then 5 right-arm press, then 5 squats (right), then 5 right-arm press. Set Kettlebell down and then immediately begin 15 two-hand swings. After the 15 swings rest for 30-secs.

Then proceed with the left arm.

After the left arm is complete, repeat using both hands at the same time. This would be considered 1 round.

This particular workout calls for two rounds. Take note of the weights used and the time till completion.


Yin and Yang Kettlebell Workout # 5

The Turkish Getup (TGU) and the Kettlebell Swing are know as the “Yin and Yang” of the Kettlebell world. The TGU is slow and powerful while the swing is fast and explosive.

This workout is 10 rounds of:

  • 1 TGU (each side)
  • 15 swings
  • 5 Push ups
  • 5 goblet squats
  • Rest 1:00 between rounds

“Flow-Rida” Kettlebell Workout #4

This workout is a 30-min Kettlebell workout made up of 3 different parts. I am also introducing something new in part 1 which is a Kettlebell Flow…

Part 1 (Flow)

7-Min As Many Round As Possible (AMRAP) – 5 presses + 5 Squats + 5 Thrusters (Each side)

This is intended to be a kettlebell flow. This means that you don’t set the Kettlebell down (if possible). In other words, do 5 Kettlebell press on right, after the last press the kettlebell should be in the rack position. While the kettlebell is in the rack position, complete 5 Kettlebell squats. After the 5th squat begin thrusters (front squat to push press). Then switch sides using a “swing switch” (if possible). For this round record the weight used and how many rounds you completed before you set the kettlebell down.

Rest 1:30

Part 2

8-min AMRAP – 6 sprinter deadlift (each side) + 8 Bent over row (each side)

For this round, record weight used and the number of rounds completed.

Rest 1:30

Part 3

10 Kettlebell Swings on the minuet for 10-minutes

This is the workout finisher! It is 100 swings in 10-mins. Use a heavy kettlebell that allows you to have good form for all 100-reps.