In my 50s: Grease the Groove (stay fresh/never fail) or single set to failure?

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John Smith

Level 1 Valued Member
Hello

I am slightly confused by GtG. Does it increase muscle mass? And why can't one do more that one GtG exercise at once?

I am in my 50s and giving that GtG is said to work well for older folks it does sound interesting partly because it's basically quite easy - you don't need to got through the pain barrier and "burn" to get results - you just do multiple sets when you are still fresh.

What confuses me most though is that it appears to be the EXACT opposite of Timothy Ferris's approach which is a single, slow (5 seconds up / 5 seconds down) set for each exercise, where you inflict as much 'burn' pain as is humanly possible! (Google: "From Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34 lbs. of Muscle in 4 Weeks")

To get clear on my own goals, I am looking for a way of building strength, and muscle bulk, and losing fat at the same time. Life is short and the less overall time in the gym very much the better. Tim's method claims to be able to do this, but although training sessions are remarkably short and in frequent it does involve a lot of 'burn' pain. I don't want to do anything bad to my core health either, as my joints are getting a little 'creaky' (slightly arthritic?) these days.

Background
At present I hit the gym once, maybe twice per week - I just dont have the time/inclination to do more. I also hate having sore muscles ('DOMS'?). I like to do something most days, just to keep the brain sharp. This might be running for 20-30 minus (maybe with some sprinting thrown in), or recreational tennis/hill walking/bicycling etc. Over the years I have read all sorts of somewhat contradictory theories about how to build muscle: 20 reps, 12 reps, 4 reps and x1 to x4 repeats per training session. e.g. Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST)? I currently work from home where I have a pull-up bar and some dumbbells at home.

Any suggestions?
 

Matts

Level 3 Valued Member
Your goals, home lifestyle, time available, dislike of soreness, etc. all make you a perfect candidate for Simple & Sinister- get the book and a starter kettlebell, and you'd be on the way. Eventually, with more experience, people learn not to confuse "journalism" and "sensationalism" (great for generating clicks!) with expertise and experience (great for strength and conditioning). Gain 34 lbs of muscle in 4 weeks? no thanks, no need to google that. There's lots of good material on this site about avoiding "burn" and lactic acidosis- look up Maffetone and A+A methods (of which S&S has a large component.) Good luck!
 

Harald Motz

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
@John Smith : welcome to the Strong First forum.
I am slightly confused by GtG. Does it increase muscle mass? And why can't one do more that one GtG exercise at once?
per se, GTG is skill work and works the nervous system to a high degree. Over time the brain gets more and more efficient, to tense the muscles harder and playing a better concert together, to accomplish the move in a creased groove. The trained move becomes part of the nervous system.

Pavel suggests to work on maximal two moves to get the best results. Maybe one has only so much nerve force.

Muscle building has something to do with volume and metabolic demand. It hurts while doing, and hurts through DOMS on rest days. The classic 20rep squat program comes to mind or Kettlebell Muscle. For mortals such a program lasts 6-12 weeks, three days a week training lots of resting and eating, to survive the progression.

GTG can be done on a daily basis, and should be, to work. When I make a thought experiment, say one GTG 's pistols. One has a max of say 6 solid reps. One does it like it is a job. Say 2 reps every 15minutes, far from failure, would make on an 8hour shift 64 reps per side per day, 320 reps per week (five days out of 7), and 1280 per month. When one hypothetically would do this over some weeks, my imagination would be that the legs would look different over time, through sheer volume of frequent hard tensing. But as I said, it is not a muscle building program.
I like to do something most days, just to keep the brain sharp.
would speak for GTG. And by the way, it works a bit like magic. But that is something, one has to experience it by oneself through some dedicated work to develop faith in it.
 

John Smith

Level 1 Valued Member
I get that GtG is supposed to be mainly an 'improved wiring' to the muscles thing. However I seem to remember Pavel (in conversation with Timothy Ferris) talking about someone's father (how own??) in his 70s getting amazing results using GtG. I can't remember the numbers, but I remember thinking there is absolutely no way that could happen without at least *some* muscle growth.

Re Simple & Sinister - seems odd because part if it is talking about 100 kettle bell swings in 5 minutes. That is a LOT of reps! Whereas part of what Pavel was saying was all about keeping the lactic acid (or whatever exercise metabolites) as low as possible, and therefore exercising to build strength it should be [correct me if I'm wrong] no more than 50 to 60% max effort (e.g. 4 or 6 repeats of an exercise you can do a max of 10 of), done in 4 sets of.

But surely exercising for 5 minutes/100 reps will surely create a LOT of lactic acid (and therefore create DOMS...).

Re Maffetone - sorry I googled it but I failed to find a concise definition of what this is. Something about exercising at a heart rate of 180 beats per minute minus your age (?)
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
@John Smith
It's all pretty concisely explained at philmaffetone.com

But yes basically 180 minus your age with some modifiers based on age, illness/injury, training maturity
 

Matts

Level 3 Valued Member
doing 100 swings in 5 mins is not really part of the S&S training on a regular basis. It's an occasional test to see if you're ready to move to a larger weight. No time is prescribed for the daily practice sessions, only "recovery" cues to start each set.
 

Kettlebelephant

Level 7 Valued Member
When one hypothetically would do this over some weeks, my imagination would be that the legs would look different over time, through sheer volume of frequent hard tensing. But as I said, it is not a muscle building program.
I get that GtG is supposed to be mainly an 'improved wiring' to the muscles thing. However I seem to remember Pavel (in conversation with Timothy Ferris) talking about someone's father (how own??) in his 70s getting amazing results using GtG. I can't remember the numbers, but I remember thinking there is absolutely no way that could happen without at least *some* muscle growth.
That's exactly what you can expect.

I used GTG years ago to go from no-pullup to 7 reps. I didn't bulk up like crazy or something like that, but I added width to my back and my arms and back got more definition.

Going from 0 to 5 will add mass. Going from 5 to 15 will add mass. Goin from 15 to 25 will add mass. The key is consistency and staying with it for a longer period of time.

Going from 5 to 7 or going from 25 to 29 probably won't add any mass, because the adaptions would be purely neurological.
 

John Smith

Level 1 Valued Member
> It's all pretty concisely explained at philmaffetone.com
> But yes basically 180 minus your age with some modifiers based on age, illness/injury, training maturity

Ok that's interesting as it defines the optimum max heart rate to build aerobic fitness/lose fat.
But what I couldn't work out is |
A) what type of exercise was best for this
B) how long one should be exercising at this heart rate.

J
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
I don't think there is any 'best exercise' to build aerobic fitness/lose fat. Besides losing fat seems to happen mostly in the kitchen, so the best excercise there is excercising good judgement and restraint

You will see a lot of good things on this forum about S&S. It's not a silver bullet to fix everything but it's pretty darn close. You might want to research it some more.

Also when you say build aerobic fitness... What does this mean to you? Do you participate in some aerobic based sport or are you training for some event?

Being aerobically fit can mean many different things.

There are a lot of variables in play here....
 
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banzaiengr

Level 7 Valued Member
One set to failure is pretty much an old nautilus principle founded by Authur Jones and later used by Ellington Darden. The problem as I see it is you are training to fail. Training to failure if done correctly is brutal and takes it's toll on you both mentally and physically. I used it many many years ago and had good luck with it, but as they say, everything works for six weeks or so.

Like yourself I'm in my '50s, only the sundown side. If, I were to try anything in this regard I would use 1 set of 20 rep squats. Many of the old time strongmen and bodybuilders swore by this exercise. But this would be with much observation and care taken. The first sign of overtraining would cause a re-evaluation. Another consideration would be that one set 20 rep squats wouldn't be recommended unless one has some history with the exercise.

Like the others, I think S&S is a great starting place that is "almost" impossible to overtrain with "if" done correctly. There's is loads of information on this site about it and I would recommend reading the book several times. Importantly if that is the road you take, don't rush the next sized bell. Ensure you truly own that bell before advancing. Another route as explained above is to get a HR monitor and keep your HR under your MAF number.

S&S (swings) saved me from back pain I had experienced since I was in my '30s. Turkish get-ups will improve your movement. Then you can try other KB exercises like clean and press, windmills, or snatches. Just my 2 cents.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
To get clear on my own goals, I am looking for a way of building strength, and muscle bulk, and losing fat at the same time. Life is short and the less overall time in the gym very much the better.
To add to what @mprevost said above, your goals sound like those of a bodybuilder. GTG is about maximizing the skill of strength, but GTG is not a program you do in a gym - it's lots of moderately difficult efforts, spread throughout the course of your day.

Let's add that a simple program isn't necessarily an easy program to follow. For one to achieve a goal, be it strength or hypertrophy or both, you need all the component parts - the right movements, the right training intensity, the right training frequency, and perhaps most importantly, the right diet and the right recovery. Many say they'd like to "have it all" but aren't willing to make the changes to their life necessary to achieve what they say they'd like to have.

Kettlebell Simple & Sinister is very popular here because it works, but also because you approach it like a job - you do the same thing almost every day of the week, and many people find that training at home works best for them with this approach. If you're not in the gym every day because it's your job, then it means going to the gym almost every day - or training at home.

Given what you've said, and given that you've found Tim, I suggest you follow his program and not GTG or do S&S. It sounds like his approach is in line with your goals so I'm not seeing a need for something else.

What confuses me most though is that it appears to be the EXACT opposite of Timothy Ferris's approach which is a single, slow (5 seconds up / 5 seconds down) set for each exercise, where you inflict as much 'burn' pain as is humanly possible! (Google: "From Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34 lbs. of Muscle in 4 Weeks")
Because this is a hypertrophy-focused program, and GTG is a skills-focused program that, while sufficient volume can put some meat on your bones, isn't focused primarily on doing that.

Hope this is helpful to you.

-S-
 

ali

Level 7 Valued Member
Your goals, home lifestyle, time available, dislike of soreness, etc. all make you a perfect candidate for Simple & Sinister- get the book and a starter kett
You know, maybe you're not convinced, so what about this:

"50 year old man returns to the weight he was at 19".......yup, that was me. Had to buy new jeans, 32 inch waist and everything....."and then puts on 12 lb again, as muscle".....yup that was me too. You know S&S might be your thing. Neither of those things were planned by the way. At the time of me finding S&S I was looking for a straight forward no fluff training programme. There is a downside, you may get obsessed by it all and that is the added bonus because tucked away within S&S are the secrets that make it what it is, a masterpiece. For beginners, intermediate, or advanced, something for everyone.

I like my analogies. I'm forever telling people to watch The Wire. It is the best drama ever made for tv. Some people start it and get a bit bored and turn off, fair enough. But for those that stick with it, you the viewer, will get sucked in and then at some point you will realise it is actually very good, really good. All those kind of slow early episodes mattered, everything is connected, the multi-layered narrative all come together. And then it will end and you will have watched a masterpiece of storytelling and social documentary. And then you tell everyone about it too. And so S&S......you need to watch it, er, read it, do it. You probably won't get it right away but stick with it and you will. And then later on when you are doing your stretching stick The Wire on......2 masterpieces in one day.
 

LukeV

Level 5 Valued Member
If you're looking for a minimalist style strength program with enough variety to keep it fresh then I'd recommend Pavel / Dan John's 10 workout cycle within the 40 day strength challenge (can google). The only amendment I make is including a 3x3 and 5x2 within the 10 workouts as per: 2x5, 2x5, 532, 2x5, 3x3, 2x5, 6x1, 1x10, 2x5, 5x2 *repeat* I add weight each set for 532, 6x1 and 5x2. I really really like this program!
 
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