Cluster Workouts: How to Use It to Build Strength and Muscle
Cluster training is very effective in surprising the body and obtaining a better development of muscle mass; at the same time that you break the monotony.
This training relies on performing short repetitions of the same exercise, with a rest time between 10 to 30 seconds, and then continue with the same series. It works great with people who are lifting large amounts of weight as it gives them time to recover for their next effort.
Despite not being a type of training widely heard today, many people usually use it to build strength and improve their muscle development. lets, discover how to use cluster workouts properly to build strength and muscle.
What is cluster training based on?
as we know Cluster training is based on using short periods of rest between sets (usually between 10 to 30 seconds), in order to help us do more repetitions with a much heavier amount of load.
for people who do not understand how cluster training works, we have an example of a squat with a 5RM will be used throughout the text to better explain how it works. Thanks to it we will be able to demonstrate the difference between a cluster training and a traditional one.
In a traditional workout, you should do your squats for a maximum of 5 sets, resting between 2 and 3 minutes between each set, and then moving on to the next; while in cluster training, what is done is to divide the 5 series into 4 miniseries of 2 repetitions (for each series), with a break of 10 to 15 seconds between each one. This allows us to do 8 repetitions of squats with our 5RM.
At first, doing 3 additional series doesn't seem like a breakthrough, but when you realize that it equates to a 60% increase in production, you start to notice the effectiveness of cluster training. In this way we can "trick" a series and perform more repetitions than we normally could.
Benefits of a cluster training
the benefits gained from cluster training arise from the ability to do more repetitions with a heavier load. As long as you can maintain a good level of intensity while doing more repetitions, you can perceive improvements in strength and muscle gains.
One of the benefits of this workout is that you can easily manipulate the set/repetition/rest scheme to make it more biased to induce strength gains or hypertrophy, depending on what your goal is.
For example, if your main goal is to improve your strength, you should try to maintain a high load of movement (at 90% or more of your 1RM), and low repetitions (miniseries of 1 or 2 repetitions), with shorter rest periods (10 to 15 seconds).
On the other hand, if you want to improve hypertrophy,cluster training allows you to take a weight that you would not normally use to increase strength (i.e. a 5RM), and in this way increase your number of repetitions to a range where hypertrophy is possible (from 8 to 12 repetitions) which places a greater degree of mechanical stress on the muscle.
Rest periods in Cluster Training
There are several ways to set up a cluster training. We present some schemes of series and repetitions with which you can start.
It should be noted that you can use cluster training in most exercises, but since you are mainly looking for strength and muscle gain, then the most recommended exercises would be those of bar with large weights.
1. First force group
In this case, you must perform 4 total groups (the first number) and each group will consist of 4 miniseries of two repetitions (the numbers in parentheses)
- 5 (4×2) -10s with a 5RM
In this configuration, you will need to make 5 total groups (the first number), and each group will consist of 4 miniseries of two repetitions (the numbers in parentheses). You should rest 10 seconds between each mini series, and you're going to use around your 5RM in charge.
Using the squat example, here's what the workout would look like:
- 2 repetitions at 5RM, rest for 10 seconds.
- 2 repetitions, rest 10 seconds.
- 2 repetitions, rest 10 seconds
- 2 repetitions, rest between 2 and 3 minutes
2. Second force group
- 5 (6×1)-15s with a 3-5RM
This workout follows the same process as the previous example, except that you only do a single repetition in each mini series- This slight adjustment in the repetitions allows you to use a heavier load, making the exercise more oriented to strength gain.
3. First muscle gain group
- 5 (3×3) -15s with a 6RM
Again, this exercise follows the same process as the previous examples, except that this time you must do 3 mini sets, for each of which consists of 3 repetitions, with a 6RM. This allows you to do 9 total repetitions with a 6RM, making you get better muscle gains.
4. Second group of muscle gain
3-4 AMRAP series until you reach 15 total repetitions: 30 s with 85% of 1RM
In this example, you will find a weight around 85% of your 1RM, where you will have to do all the repetitions you can (without reaching the failure completely) before placing the bar and resting for 30 seconds.
After a short break, you'll need to perform as many repetitions as possible, before putting the bar back on and resting for another 30 seconds. keep it this way, until you reach a maximum of 15 repetitions.
Repeat the exercise for 3 or 4 sets in total. Normally, you should reach between 5 and 8 repetitions in your first mini series, then you should make the repetitions slowly decrease for each miniseries.
Cluster workouts help you improve your strength and increase muscle mass, as they allow you to perform fewer repetitions for each miniseries; but in total you will reach a much greater number of repetitions than you could achieve previously.