Boost Strength With Cluster Sets
Muscular Development|July 2021
The lower amount of lactate produced while cluster set training indicates that cluster set training will permit the completion of more repetitions, stimulating more muscle growth.
By Michael J. Rudolph

I’ve been lifting weights now for well over 30 years, and even though I can’t bench press over 400 pounds anymore, I still remember what it took to get to that level of strength. One of the techniques that helped me gain strength the most throughout the years was cluster set training.

Cluster set training involves the use of a weight that you can lift for a specific amount of repetitions, and instead of lifting the weight without interruption for a complete set, you break the set up into mini-sets where you only lift the weight for roughly one-third of the total repetitions that you normally perform successively. After the first mini-set, you rack the weight and wait 10 to 30 seconds, and then repeat the process until you surpass the total number of repetitions that you normally perform without interruption by at least one repetition.

Let me give you a good example of cluster set training. Let’s say you can bench press 275 pounds for five successive repetitions. Well, during a cluster set you would lift the 275 for the first mini-set within the cluster for two repetitions, rack the weight, wait 10 to 30 seconds and repeat two more times, or for two more mini-sets, within the first cluster. This would give a total of six repetitions with 275 pounds, meaning you performed one more repetition within the cluster set than you normally perform during a regular set with no rest between repetitions.

Increased Training Volume

The ability of cluster sets to increase training volume has clearly been demonstrated in many studies. One of these studies by Iglesias-Soler et al.4 had subjects perform two sessions of squats with a weight they could do for four successive repetitions. In the first session, the subjects performed a traditional set with three total sets and three minutes of rest between sets. In the second session, they performed a cluster set with same weight, but rested 45 seconds between each mini-set. The results showed that the cluster set training increased the total number of repetitions considerably, relative to traditional training. In addition, cluster set training also resulted in the weights being lifted with much more velocity, indicating much better mechanical performance, or power output, during the lift.

More Reps With Cluster Sets

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