I get lots of questions from beginners on how they can train, these questions vary in their nature, this morning I had a question from a more advance lifter who has hit a plateau in his progress. This question excited me, he asked –
“Is there any way I can increase my overall volume/overload while not spending any extra time in the gym?”
This question made my heart smile. I suggested to him using Cluster Sets, his response was one of stunned silence, it seemed he had not heard of the concept of before.
A Cluster Set is similar to a Rest Pause Set, however there is a crucial difference between the two.
When you have a rest pause set you allow yourself to break your reps – If you have 5 sets of 10 reps on bench and on the 4th set you push out 7 and just hold the bar for a few seconds and then finish your set; you might do the same for the last set too – that is a rest pause set, you will not exceed the number of desired reps.
A cluster set is similar yet very different, lets say you put your 5RM on the bar for squats, you do your 5 reps and then rack the bar for 15 seconds, after that time you immediately take the bar back out and squeeze out a few more reps (2-3 normally) then rack the bar once more, you will repeat this as many times as necessary until you have done and extra 10 reps on your 5RM (totalling 15 reps at 5RM for 1 set) you will do 3-5 sets in total.
Using this method of training will help increase your overall load lifted, therefor the total amount of stimulus received by the muscles, this means more potential grows or as many like to say “MORE GAINS!”.
I would recommend only doing this in 3 week blocks because it will eventually kill your CNS (central nervous system).