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Cluster sets are similar to rest pause training but with a difference. The sets that you do targeting a specific muscle group will have short rests between them of only 5 to 20 seconds. However there is total freedom in the way that allows you to change the volume and intensity as well as the many different combinations.
In order to explain the creation of cluster sets, which you can apply to any body-part we will take, bench-press to show how to vary the sets and reps so that you can create your own cluster set workout. First select a weight that you would normally be able to press 10 times without taking a rest.
You then squeeze out 4 good reps and then rest for 15 seconds and then do another 4 to 6 reps to complete the set. You then complete ten sets like this reaching the point of close to failure. If you fail earlier then start off with a lighter weight.
This is called a cluster set and the use of the sets and reps that you select can change as you see fit. In order to get the cluster set progression that you need in order to gain muscle you should select a weight and the set and rep range. When you are able to reach the targeted reps then you should add more weight and continue to train with cluster sets.
If we use standing barbell curls as an example you would do 5 X 4 taking the required 15 second rest between sets. After the 5th set you will be approaching failure and could finish off the last three sets doing 3 reps and then 2 reps. The choice to go to the point of failure is a personal one and some strength coaches will recommend training to failure while others will not.
When you can perform all 5 sets for 4 reps you would then increase the weight so that you reach the point of failure or near the point of failure. When starting off training with cluster sets you should see how sore your muscles get and tweak the cluster set to suit your own specific objectives.
A good place to start with cluster sets is the 10 X 4 system where you do 10 sets of 4 reps each with only a 15 second rest between sets. But there are many other variations of cluster sets like the 8x3 cluster set training or the 6 X 6 cluster training for smaller muscle groups.
As mentioned above the variations when doing cluster sets are endless but if you are creating a new cluster set training program you could start with your chest and triceps day with the following sets and reps.
Chest and Triceps day:
Bench Press 10x4 Cluster Set
Incline DB or barbell Press 6x6 Cluster Set
Flys or Pec Dec 6x6 Cluster Set
Skullcrushers 6x6 Cluster Set
Overhead DB Extensions 6x6 Cluster Set
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