by | Jan 22, 2014 | 35 comments

greasing your groove

greasing your groove
I know, you’re already doubting me with that strange title.  But today’s Workout Wednesday concept is one that makes fitting in more exercise so easy (and we all want that!), so bear with me.

I first heard of “Greasing the Groove” from Ben Greenfield (remember hearing about him on my post of my favorite podcasts to listen to while running?).  Basically, Ben’s adapted concept is that you form a habit of performing a small number of reps of a given exercise multiple times throughout the day.

Motivation is what gets you started Habit is what keeps you going

So what is “greasing your groove”? The initial concept was created by Pavel Tsatsouline in his book “The Naked Warrior” (which I haven’t read).  He created “greasing the groove” because he believed that “Specificity + Frequent Practice = Success” … that being able to achieve a strength goal is not only based on building overall muscle bulk, but also based on practicing that specific activity frequently.  For a while, it was mostly used by bodybuilders … an easy way to achieve a goal of bench-pressing 300 pounds, say, was to bench-press 150 pounds several times per day.  (And no, I cannot and will never have a desire to bench press 300 pounds, so this does not apply to only bodybuilders! Keep reading!)

invisible bench press

Here’s a quote from Ben that explains it well:

This concept works because by performing a movement frequently, your neuromuscular system becomes more proficient at allowing your body, your nerves and your muscles to work in sync to perform that movement more efficiently, and over time the movement becomes more natural and more economical for your body to perform. When that happens, you’re able to maintain better form and do more repetitions.

Now think about how greasing your groove applies to you … if you create a habit of doing a tiny bit of exercise that would otherwise seem inconsequential, you’ll end up fitting in a whole lot more exercise during a regular day than you otherwise would have, without ever spending more than 60 seconds on an activity or feeling like you’re really working out.  Sound like a win-win situation?  Let’s set up a plan.

One example that I’m going to borrow from Ben is doing 20 squats every time I use the restroom.  Let’s just say that I follow my tips on hydration very well, so I’ll be using this one frequently!  And while 20 squats at a time isn’t really a challenge for me, I’m certain that adding 200 squats to every day will make my legs stronger and leaner.  (Side note: I have started the “greasing the groove” habit once before, but sadly let it drop. I think the breaking point may have been when I was standing in the restroom of a client’s office doing my squats, and one of our main clients walked in, looking astonished.  So take it from me … stay in the stall while you’re doing your squats if you’re in a public place!)

Here are the other exercises I’m going to include in my “Greasing the Groove” routine:

greasing the groove

Doesn’t that look easy?  You want to set up only a few (6 is probably too many, but I’m going to go with it) so that you actually remember them and they don’t put an undue burden on your day.  Be sure to adjust the number of reps to something that is not too challenging for you to do at once, but that may add up when you do it throughout the day.  Have fun, and enjoy getting stronger and leaner without much effort!


So tell me in the comments … What is one activity you can do to “grease the groove?”  Can you commit to adding this into your routine with me?  At least for today?


  1. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun

    I love this Megan! It is such a simple thing but can benefit all of us in a really great way. I kind of look at strength training in that way – even if I just do a few exercises but do them consistently my body is going to reap the benefit.

    I am going to try this today! I don’t know about the Facebook though lol I may be doing pushups all day and I’m not sure I’m ready for that 🙂

    • Megan Lyons

      How did it go today, Sara? I realized I go to the fridge more often than I thought :). I only go on Facebook twice per day so I could handle the 30 push ups!

  2. Lisa @ Running out of Wine

    This is such a great idea, and simple enough to follow. I recently started balancing on one foot while I do things like brush my teeth or wash the dishes, and foot exercises while I am standing around cooking meals. I might need to add planking in at some point, that sounds like real challenge- in a good way!

    • Megan Lyons

      I love the idea of balancing on one foot – that’s a good one! Would be good when you’re on the phone, too. Thanks for the suggestion, Lisa!

  3. Michael Anderson

    ‘Megan’s Potty Squat Challenge’! 🙂

    Seriously, that is great advice. Just before I read this I was talking to Lisa, and I try to always follow the ‘stand and walk to talk’ thing, unless it is a conference call where I am pinned to my laptop. So while we talked I did two loops around the main path of the facility.

    It is amazing the number of things like this you can integrate – thanks for bringing this up, it is a fantastic idea!

    • Megan Lyons

      Hehe, that title would have been even more interesting than the one I did choose! Good for you for standing and talking … I’m getting more and more in the habit of it, and I like it! Like putting it into practice myself, too … just might have to cut down on the squats a bit :).

    • Megan Lyons

      That’s a great idea, Jillian! At work, I used to have my Feedly open 100% of the time and switch over very frequently, so that would have killed me! Now I stick to one hour in the morning … I actually have to set a timer, because I could read blogs FOREVER otherwise! Someone suggested doing jumping jacks between each blog you read … I like that!

  4. Robert

    Oh, oh, oh, pick me, pick me!

    I’d love to run Napa! It’a on my bucket list of places to run a race. If I could uproot my family, I’d happily move them to the Napa area, or Calistoga.

    • Megan Lyons

      I know, me too :). I think we are going to lose though … But still worth trying! I’ve actually never been to Napa, but I want to go. I’ll have to check out Calistoga, too, as I’ve never heard of it.

      • Robert

        Calistoga is a great little place about 30 miles up the valley north of Napa. It’s a great little farming town that doesn’t suffer asuch from Napa’s hipster fame.

    • Megan Lyons

      Love that you do it, too! There are very few health-related things that would make me consider someone a weirdo, so no worries 🙂

  5. Amy @ Long Drive Journey

    Haha! This is such a great idea! I’ve never heard of it, but I like it! And I can just imagine you getting caught doing squats in the bathroom. That is so funny, and I think you made the right decision to just hold off on Greasing the Groove while you were still working!

    Walking while talking on the phone is a GREAT one!

    • Megan Lyons

      Yes – oops! Anyone can walk while talking on the phone, though! I’ve actually made it a habit to get out of my house if I’m taking a personal/ friend call and walk around, even if it’s just for 10 minutes!

  6. Amanda @ .running with spoons.

    Love this idea, girl! I had no idea it had a name, but this is actually something I’ve been doing for a while now. I have to admit that I doing always have the patience for longer workouts, so I try to add random bursts of activity to my day instead. One of my favourites? Doing some. Jumping jacks between reading blog posts… It’s a good way to keep myself from falling into the slump that comes with too much time spent sitting at the computer.

    • Megan Lyons

      Love that you’ve been doing it all along, Amanda! I worked out separately today (in addition to Greasing the Groove), but honestly I think this would be a great option for days when I wasn’t having an official workout session … it really did add up! Jumping jacks in between posts is SUCH a good idea. I totally zone out while I’m reading blogs in the morning, and if I’m not careful I could sit in front of the computer for HOURS! I set a timer for blog reading now (except on the weekends). Thanks for sharing!

  7. Kim

    What a fun workout idea!!
    I have a standing work station at home and when I read blogs I read 1 or 2 and then walk around – that way I’m not a total slug for hours at a time!!

    • Megan Lyons

      I have made my own standing work station since I’ve been working at home, and I LOVE it. Actually hoping to post about this relatively soon. Really like the idea of walking around between blog reading, too – that time sitting in front of the computer sure does add up!

  8. Arman @ thebigmansworld

    SUCH a great idea, Megan! Thanks so much for this! I am now motivated to do some squats every time I use the restroom now! I’ve tried making a standing desk several times when I worked from home- it was refreshing to not sit in a chair for great lengths of time!

    • Megan Lyons

      Hope you get walked in on while you’re doing your bathroom squats, just so you can experience the same humiliation I did :). I’ve also made a standing desk (out of a fondue box, how ironic), and REALLY enjoy it. I still don’t stand 100% of the day, but I really like alternating, and I think it keeps me alert!

  9. Davida @ The Healthy Maven

    I got into a habit of doing push-ups whenever I’m waiting while the microwave heats up my food. I have no idea why I chose that activity or push-ups for that matter but it’s a habit that’s managed to last through three cities. So random! Love this!

    • Megan Lyons

      I love that – totally random, but if it sticks, it’s a great trick!

  10. Chrissy

    This is great! And since I already have a habit walking to my desk dripping wet from a lunchtime workout (pre-shower, of course), I have no shame in having coworkers see me squat 🙂

    • Megan Lyons

      That’s awesome, Chrissy. I think if I had come in sweaty at my old job, I may have been fired on the spot :). But no shame is the way to go!

  11. Christine @ Gotta Eat Green

    Love this! I actually tried to get my sister to do something similar. She was having trouble getting into a groove with working out/staying active so I told her to work exercises into things she does everyday. For example, every time there’s a commercial on TV do 20 sit ups and 10 push ups. It got her started!

    • Megan Lyons

      The TV workout is a great one – fun to create little games, such as “every time __ character comes on screen, I do 20 jumping jacks” or “ever time a commercial plays, I do ___” … just like you said! Congrats to you for helping your sister get started!

  12. Tonya@Healthy, Fit, and Frugal

    This reminds me of doing tons of reps of the same thing in beach volleyball, especially when it comes to hitting. You just can’t seem to make the right “connection” with the volleyball to hit hard and then one day after TONS of practice…BOOM! Yay reps!

    • Megan Lyons

      Maybe THAT was my problem with volleyball … I just didn’t practice enough :).

  13. NZ Muse

    Muscle memory FTW!

    They say it takes 30 days to form a habit – trying to get back into the groove of doing a little exercise in the morning before work.

    • Megan Lyons

      Good for you, NZ Muse! Yes, habits do take a while to form (I often hear 21 days, as well, but I’ve actually read anything from 7 to 60). Keep up the good work, and soon you’ll come to love your morning workouts and appreciate how much better you feel when you do wake up in the morning to get some movement in :).

  14. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

    Hi, Meghan! Just popping over from Sprint 2 the Table! Wow! This is a great idea! I’m all about fitting exercise in where you can, but geez, I can’t believe I’ve never thought of something as easy as this! I love the calf raises while brushing your teeth…and with the amount of water that I drink, those squats would be perfect. I’ve been looking for a few ways to strengthen my left quad as it’s still a bit puny from my knee surgery I had back in March of last year. I will definitely be adding these little exercises into my day! Thanks so much! 😀

    • Megan Lyons

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Heather! I’m a huge fan of yours on Instagram, and pop over to your blog from time to time to drool over the photos! I’m totally with you on the water causing some major squat “damage” … I can certainly feel my legs after just 3 days of this greasing the groove! Hope you come up with a greasing the groove routine that works for you!

  15. Heather @ Better With Veggies

    I absolutely love this concept – small movements really do add up!! I need to think on this one. Maybe I can use it for studying. 5 Flashcards per potty break? 🙂

    • Megan Lyons

      Haha, this cracked me up!!! Sure, whatever works – I think 5 flashcards per potty break is a great idea! I did the 20 squats for the first 4 days but have since cut it down to 10 on days that I’m also running … it still adds up at the end of the day!


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Megan Lyons Headshot

Hi! I'm Megan Lyons,

the voice behind The Lyons’ Share. I love all things health, wellness, and fitness-related, and I hope to share some of my passion with you. Thanks for stopping by!
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