Cluster Sets For Strength And Power
How to Implement Clusters Sets for Strength and Power
‘Traditional’ sets are performed normally as a certain number of repetitions completed back to back in a set followed by a prescribed rest and then, repeating, depending on the number of sets allocated i.e. 3 sets of 5 reps with 90 seconds rest. When we perform reps on an exercise, we begin to fatigue. This is relative to the intensity of the exercise and how many repetitions performed. If your goal is to improve maximal strength and power, then, cluster sets are an excellent option to incorporate. In this article, we discuss how to implement cluster sets for strength and power.
When traditional sets are performed, we experience a reduction in force output, peak power, movement velocity and technical proficiency. As the number of reps in a set increase, we feel more fatigued.
Cluster sets are a structure where, you perform a set having intraset rest within. An example of this would be performing 3 reps resting 15 seconds and then, performing another 3 reps. This intraset rest gives your body a small amount of time to recover. This is to ensure that reductions in force, power, velocity and technique are kept to a minimum enabling us to train at a higher intensity.
Implementation Of Cluster Sets
There are many ways to incorporate cluster sets into your workouts. Firstly, you want to be completing cluster sets on compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, bench press/pull etc. Exercises where, force output and velocity are important factors. Cluster sets are an idea that can be toyed with in many ways. For example, you could perform 4 reps on back squats, rest 20 seconds and then, perform another 4 reps for a clustered set of 8. You can also perform 1 rep on back squat with 20s rest and repeat that 5 times for a set of 5. How you programme your clusters and rest time is solely dependent on what you are after. As we said before, more reps mean more fatigue so performing more or less reps in a cluster will yield differing physiological results. If you are aiming for pure power/maximal force, then, you would be pushing the 1 rep rest pattern. However, if you want to elicit some strength endurance, even, some hypertrophy, you would be aiming for 8 total reps. Also, in regards to intraset rest times, aim for anywhere between 10-30 seconds rest maximum.
THE VIDEO: How to Implement Clusters Sets for Strength and Power
Cluster Sets Sample Programme
Below, we have a recommendation of cluster sets and progressions:
Week 1-3: 3 sets of 8 reps (4 reps, 20s rest, 4 reps) @ 75% 1RM
Week 4-6: 3 sets of 6 reps (3 reps, 25s rest, 3 reps) @ 85% 1RM
Week 7-9: 3 sets of 4 reps (2 reps, 30s rest, 2 reps) @87% 1RM
Week 10-12: 3 sets of 3 reps (1 rep, 30s rest, till 3 reps completed) @90% 1RM
This strategy will start you off at a strength endurance range gradually pushing into a more maximal strength range. As previously said, there are many ways to implement it. Just ensure that the cluster sets reflect your goals.
As cluster sets are a way to maintain intensity and elicit good maximal strength and power gains, the question you need to ask yourself is are you adept enough to do this. If you are not lifting relatively heavy and are still seeing improvements from traditional training, then, stick to it. You are not near your ceiling yet. However, if you feel you need to change something up and push on with some strength and power gains, then, cluster sets training is definitely worth doing.