3 methods to build muscle whilst maintaining strength: the cluster method
Here we go with the third part in the series.
The third part is the Cluster Method.
In this method there are two options.
I generally use 4 sets for both methods.
The first method is to take your standard 8 rep load for the exercise in question. Somewhere around 80% of your max is a good starting point.
– Begin by completing an 8 rep set of any given strength movement
– Rest for 2 minutes and add around 2-3% additional load
– The next set split it into 3 mini clusters of 3 reps with a 20s rest between each one. This includes racking and unracking of the bar.
– You might only get 7-8 reps in three sets but continue until you get the full 9 reps out and lower the weight for the next set. The goal has got to be on gradual accumulation of volume rather than intensification so you don’t want to be doing single repetitions with this method.
-Rest for 2-3 minutes and repeat for 4 total sets.
The second option is to use a higher initial loading of around 85-87% or a 5RM load on any given day. You will use 2 clusters with this format.
– using this load, go to failure on the first cluster set which will be 4-5 reps.
– rest for 20s
– attempt to get 2-3 further reps for a total of 8 reps.
– rest for 2-3 minutes and repeat for 4 sets
– Increase the loading if you are completing more than 8 reps.
Use caution with these methods if your coming from a tough phase of training. Not all of your programme needs to revolve around them you can kind of drip feed them into your programme for the key movements as shown above.
Cluster training is pretty stressful in general, irrespective of which option you go for. My advise is start with the hypertrophy supersets and go through each method for 2-3 weeks, 2-3x per week. That way you will have trained for 4-6 weeks before you get to the cluster method and be ready for the change in stimulus.
Good luck with your training, stay tuned for a bonus method that can be used as an additional training block or incorporated within these 3 methods.