Hey Angels and Alphas,
Cluster training is a concept that’s gaining popularity in recent years among female and male fitness enthusiasts. It’s gaining popularity because clusters sets are one of the best ways for us to increase the total load in our workouts.
Cluster sets are smaller sets built-in a larger set with rest periods in-between that range from 10 to 30 seconds. They’re a very easy way to add more volume and load in every workout you do, and subsequently, increase the amount of stress and tension you’re putting in your muscles. This, combined with high-quality recovery, can lead to better strength gains and more hypertrophy.
Cluster training can take different forms, and there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to doing it. You can implement cluster sets in pretty much any part of your training, from hypertrophy to raw strength gains.
To perform a cluster set, choose a compound movement you can do for 5 reps. Rather than performing the entire set at once, cluster sets let you break the set of 5 reps into 3-4 smaller sets of 2 reps with 10 second periods of rest in-between them. This will potentially allow you to perform a total of 7-8 reps using the same amount of weight.
Today, we’re going to talk about three facts about cluster training (and the benefits that they can bring to your workouts.)
First of all, a 2013 study proved that cluster training leads to more strength gains.
In the study, one subject group followed traditional sets (4 x 10), and the other was focused on intra-rest interval sets (8 x 5). They concluded that both groups saw an increase in strength and a shift in muscle fibers, yet the intra-rest set group developed more strength in the same period. This study was one of the first of a series of studies that proved the efficiency of cluster sets in providing better strength improvements.
Second, as mentioned above, it’s one of the best ways to increase your total training volume.
Essentially, by working with higher intensities, a high rep count can create an actual limitation in your body. Cluster sets are focused on stretching a lot of work over smaller sets, allowing you to hit more reps.
A study done in 2015 concluded that cluster training promoted greater work volume and higher average strength gains. If you’re one of those people who finds it difficult to get a great pump in the gym, or you’re someone who is short on time and wants to maximize the amount of load you can experience in a short workout, cluster sets can help you achieve both of those things.
Not only will they help you target and impact your muscles in a more significant way, but they will also allow you to get a more intense workout in a short amount of time – perfect for the people with busy lifestyles who still want to get very intense training sessions.
Third, they have been noted to be great for busting through strength training plateaus.
Honestly, if you’ve been stuck at a certain weight on a particular lift for a long amount of time, cluster sets are one of your best options moving forward. Because they can easily lead to adding more load to your workouts, this means they can lead to more optimal training volume to your workouts. Technically, their sole purpose is to allow for higher training volume. This alone can help you break through your plateau since the added intensity could be just what you need to trigger progressive overload.