Is cluster training right for you? There is no “rule book” for who can and cannot use cluster training. But this post will hopefully give you an idea of when clusters make the most sense for a trainee (whether your clients or yourself).
Swipe-y swipe to learn the basics of cluster training:
Clusters are essentially sets of 5-7 SINGLE REPS with short rest periods between reps. They can be performed for a wide range of SETS. But typically 3-7.
A traditional set and rep situation would be a single set of “x” amount of reps with 60 seconds or more of rest between sets. Clusters differ from that set up. There may still be the same set and reps but the reps are separated by short bouts of rest. Where a normal set and rep scheme of these numbers would be performed at say, 75-85% load, clusters can be performed at higher percentages. Say – 85-92%.
That gives you the same volume (set x rep wise) but you’re able to get repeated strength at HIGHER LOADS.
That makes this approach great for building and pushing strength. If a client is struggling to make a weight jump for say a set of 5, then clusters can be implemented to give a bit of rest between each rep. This has potential to both build confidence of completed reps as this challenging load, and also build actual strength due to being able to complete the volume at this given weight.
1. You need to know your 1, 2 or 3RM at least to use clusters effectively.
2. Clusters can be used in a VERY wide range of sets and reps (see T-Nation article in post).
3. They are 100% for strength, but can be used to gain size as well – you’ll see this in the Poliquin clusters.
Would you be interested in trying them? Again – I’d classify clusters (in the traditional use) as intermediate to advanced. Someone certainly needs experience under heavy loads before giving these a go.
Have you ever used clusters? Yourself or in programming?
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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