Become More Powerful With Cluster Training
In this article I'll share a quick tip that you might want to implement into your training...it's an option which will help you lift more and with better technique at the same time.
It's called cluster training.
Now before we get into it, please be aware that cluster training is not appropriate if you're wanting to challenge your work capacity - only use this if you want to maximise the speed of every rep or want to experience lifting a heavier load.
Let's use the barbell back squat as an example, and apply cluster training to that exercise.
The way it works is very simple...let's say you're doing 3 sets of 8.
In a normal set you would take the bar, load it up, perform your 8 reps one after the other, re-rack the bar, rest for about a minute and then repeat the process two more times.
However, with cluster training we strategically allow ourselves short rest periods mid-set, to increase performance.
So instead of 3x8, we've now got 3 x (4+4), or even 3 x (3+3+2).
We're breaking that set down into smaller clusters.
You may wish to simply stand with the bar and pause for 10-20 seconds between your clusters, or re-rack the bar to de-load completely.
So, what are the benefits of training in this way?
- You can give yourself mid-set feedback so that the technique for each rep improves.
- If you're training with a partner, they can give you feedback mid-set that you can implement right away.
- Because of the short rest periods, you may be able to lift 85% of your 1RM for the 8 reps rather than 80% if you were doing all of the reps back to back (1RM percentages just an example).
- If you want to emphasise speed and power, the short rest periods will enable you to maximise the speed of every rep, decreasing the negative affects of fatigue on each rep.
Making sure you're educated means that you'll know when it is or isn't the right time to implement methods such as this into your training. It's understanding the science behind your training and being able to apply it at the right moments that will give you that edge over your opponents!
That's cluster training in a nutshell - simple and affective when used at the right time.