Clusters- Not Just For Breakfast!

Since this is the season to get huuuuge ( like our furry friend in the picture), one might as well try something new. We have all heard ad nauseaum that we need to lift heavy in order to grow.

And that is, to an extent, true. The pump also plays a role in hypertrophy in regards to cellular water accumulation, so a drop set at the end might be a fine idea.
But lifting heavy weights is what causes protein synthesis to increase, strength to grow, and an overall anabolic environment.
The problem is that progress stalls – once we hit the two-year mark of training, we do not gain all that much strength doing straight sets anymore.
Cluster training is a good way to break up the monotony. Here is an easy set up:
– pick a basic exercise such as the incline bench
– use your 5 RM max weight for a set of 9-12 reps, broken down in 3 or 4 rep clusters
– breaks would be around 10-15 seconds
– having a spotter is worth gold

By breaking the set into smaller pieces you can extend the set beyond the regular work capacity of the muscle without running the risk of an injury. The breaks are too short for a complete recovery, but just enough to help you through the set. I usually add some stretch or pump exercises to take advantage of the CNS stimulation for a better pump and because I am a wimpy bodybuilder who will always chase the pump.

A sample workout could look something like this
Back/ triceps

4x(3×4) bent-over rows, rest bar every 4 reps, for  15 seconds
50 pull ups
3×20  dumbbell pullovers
3x(3×3) high incline presses, parallel grip
3x 10 standing overhead extensions at the rope, double up on rope length


3x(3×5) hack squat (the regular squat can be tough to rack and unrack)
3×10 sissy squats
2×25 leg extensions, lean back all the way
3x(3×4) stiff-legged dead lifts

3x(8×8) leg curls, laying down, first 8 keeps the hips flat, second 8 elevate hips about 3 inches from the pad

Shoulders/ Calves

4x(3×3) military or Arnold press

3×10 Poliquin raises

3×10 lat pull downs behind the neck or rear delt flyes
3-4x(3×12) leg press or calf raises. When doing calves, I shoot for a higher rep number
3×25 donkey raises or anything that will allow for max contraction


4x(3×3) incline dumbbells or hammer strength press

3×20 push ups where you keep an inward intention with the hands, aka try to push the floor together
3x(3×3) barbell curl or narrow grip pull up, depending on forearm length
3×10 incline curls

Cluster training can be tough on the central nervous system, so try supplementing with choline or l-tyrosine before the workout and ZMA for a better sleep. After four to six weeks, switch back to your old routine.

Let me know how it goes!