Cluster Sets Workout - Cluster up Your Muscle Gains | TRAIN

Cluster Sets Workout – Cluster up Your Muscle Gains

Lift heavy or do more reps for muscle? With a cluster sets workout, you can have the best of both worlds for the most explosive muscle gains you’ve ever experienced.

 

The debate: Heavy weight or more reps?

If you’ve ever overheard a typical gym debate, you’ll have certainly heard people arguing about what builds muscle; is it using heavier weights? Or lighter loads with more reps? Hopefully, you didn’t get involved because this debate is for chumps.

Both heavy weights and higher reps need to be used to maximize muscle growth. Typically, aspiring muscle builders will cycle their training in phases of 4-12 weeks to add endurance and strength separately. Why wait, though, when we can have higher reps and heavier loads at the same time? Enter, cluster sets.

 

How cluster sets work

You’ve heard of taking a rest period between sets – that’s pretty standard. Cluster sets take your rest periods and move them intra-set to add an intensity that few protocols can bring. The idea behind it is simple; break up your set into clusters of smaller reps enabling you to add more total reps with heavier weights.

Here’s an example :
A standard set of bench press using 80% of your 1 rep max would cause most people to fail at around the 7-8 rep mark. A cluster set would allow you to add a few extra reps to that number. Here’s how :

3 reps
20 seconds rest
3 reps
20 seconds rest
3 reps
20 seconds rest
3 reps (failure)
12 reps total

That’s 12 reps versus 8 reps with exactly the same weight. Doesn’t seem like much but consider that’s a whopping 50% increase in volume and it doesn’t sound quite so shabby anymore. Especially, since we know that there is a positive dose-response relationship between muscle growth and volume. More is more (To a point – you need to be able to recover)

 

cluster sets workout

 

Now you know what cluster sets are, I’m sure you’re chomping at the bit to turn your current workout into a cluster frenzy and turn every exercise into clusters. Not so fast – this protocol is intense and you’ll dig your body into a pit that you won’t be able to recover from if you don’t program intelligently. Check out this routine but only if you’re prepared to invest in a whole new wardrobe, the next size up.

 

Progressive cluster sets workout

The science is clear – training body parts more frequently than the old school once-a-week is superior for muscle growth. In this plan they’ll be hit twice over the period of 8 days. Pick a weight you’d normally fail with at around 8-10 reps for your cluster sets.

(c) = cluster sets

Phase 1

Day 1 – Back and triceps (Back, triceps)

Lat pulldowns (c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Bent over rows 3 x 8-12
Close grip bench press3 x 6-8
Tricep pushdowns (c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Bench reverse ab crunches3 x 15-20

Day 2 – Rest

Day 3 – Chest and biceps (Back and biceps)

Bench Press(c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Incline dumbell press3 x 8-12
Alternating dumbbell curls3 x 8-12 each arm
Ez bar cable curls(c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3

Day 4 – Legs and delts (Quad focus, delts, calves)

Squats(c) 4 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Leg curls(c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Dumbbell shoulder press3 x 8-12
Dumbbell lateral raises(c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Seated calf raises3 x 12-15

Day 5 – Back and triceps

Pull ups(c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Rack Pulls3 x 6-8
Single arm dumbell rows3 x 8-12 each arm
Ez bar skull crushers(c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Overhead rope extentions3 x 8-12
Cable rope crunches3 x 15-20

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – Chest and biceps

Incline bench press(c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Decline dumbbell press3 x 8-12
Dumbbell/cable flyes3 x 8-12
Barbell curls(c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Dumbbell preacher curls3 x 8-12 each arm

Day 8 – Legs and delts (Hamstring focus, delts, calves)

Deadlifts4 x 6-8
Hack squats(c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Overhead press(c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3
Machine lateral raises3 x 12-15
Standing calf raises(c) 3 x 3-r-3-r-3-r-3

 

Phase 2 – Increase cluster reps

Day 1 – Back and triceps (Back, triceps)

Lat pulldowns (c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Bent over rows 3 x 8-12
Close grip bench press3 x 6-8
Tricep pushdowns (c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Bench reverse ab crunches3 x 15-20

Day 2 – Rest

Day 3 – Chest and biceps (Back and biceps)

Bench Press(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Incline dumbell press3 x 8-12
Alternating dumbbell curls3 x 8-12 each arm
Ez bar cable curls(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3

Day 4 – Legs and delts (Quad focus, delts, calves)

Squats(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Leg curls(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Dumbbell shoulder press3 x 8-12
Dumbbell lateral raises(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Seated calf raises3 x 12-15

Day 5 – Back and triceps

Pull ups(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Rack Pulls3 x 6-8
Single arm dumbell rows3 x 8-12 each arm
Ez bar skull crushers(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Overhead rope extentions3 x 8-12
Cable rope crunches3 x 15-20

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – Chest and biceps

Incline bench press(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Decline dumbbell press3 x 8-12
Dumbbell/cable flyes3 x 8-12
Barbell curls(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Dumbbell preacher curls3 x 8-12 each arm

Day 8 – Legs and delts (Hamstring focus, delts, calves)

Deadlifts4 x 6-8
Hack squats(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Overhead press(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3
Machine lateral raises3 x 12-15
Standing calf raises(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-3-r-3

 

Phase 3 – Increase all cluster reps

Day 1 – Back and triceps (Back, triceps)

Lat pulldowns (c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Bent over rows 3 x 8-12
Close grip bench press3 x 6-8
Tricep pushdowns (c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Bench reverse ab crunches3 x 15-20

Day 2 – Rest

Day 3 – Chest and biceps (Back and biceps)

Bench Press(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Incline dumbell press3 x 8-12
Alternating dumbbell curls3 x 8-12 each arm
Ez bar cable curls(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4

Day 4 – Legs and delts (Quad focus, delts, calves)

Squats(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Leg curls(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Dumbbell shoulder press3 x 8-12
Dumbbell lateral raises(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Seated calf raises3 x 12-15

Day 5 – Back and triceps

Pull ups(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Rack Pulls3 x 6-8
Single arm dumbell rows3 x 8-12 each arm
Ez bar skull crushers(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Overhead rope extentions3 x 8-12
Cable rope crunches3 x 15-20

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – Chest and biceps

Incline bench press(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Decline dumbbell press3 x 8-12
Dumbbell/cable flyes3 x 8-12
Barbell curls(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Dumbbell preacher curls3 x 8-12 each arm

Day 8 – Legs and delts (Hamstring focus, delts, calves)

Deadlifts4 x 6-8
Hack squats(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Overhead press(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Machine lateral raises3 x 12-15
Standing calf raises(c) 3 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4

 

Phase 4 – Increased Volume

Day 1 – Back and triceps (Back, triceps)

Lat pulldowns (c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Bent over rows 4 x 8-12
Close grip bench press4 x 6-8
Tricep pushdowns (c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Bench reverse ab crunches4 x 15-20

Day 2 – Rest

Day 3 – Chest and biceps (Back and biceps)

Bench Press(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Incline dumbell press4 x 8-12
Alternating dumbbell curls4 x 8-12 each arm
Ez bar cable curls(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4

Day 4 – Legs and delts (Quad focus, delts, calves)

Squats(c) 5 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Leg curls(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Dumbbell shoulder press4 x 8-12
Dumbbell lateral raises(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Seated calf raises4 x 12-15

Day 5 – Back and triceps

Pull ups(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Rack Pulls4 x 6-8
Single arm dumbell rows4 x 8-12 each arm
Ez bar skull crushers(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Overhead rope extentions4 x 8-12
Cable rope crunches4 x 15-20

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – Chest and biceps

Incline bench press(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Decline dumbbell press4 x 8-12
Dumbbell/cable flyes4 x 8-12
Barbell curls(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Dumbbell preacher curls4 x 8-12 each arm

Day 8 – Legs and delts (Hamstring focus, delts, calves)

Deadlifts5 x 6-8
Hack squats(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Overhead press(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4
Machine lateral raises4 x 12-15
Standing calf raises(c) 4 x 4-r-4-r-4-r-4

Phase 5 – Deload/Rest Week
Phase 6 – Repeat phase 1 but this time adding 2.5lbs/5lbs to your original loads.

Post-workout wrap up

After hitting these cluster set workouts you will have achieved :

  • Muscle gain
  • Newfound strength
  • Increased muscle endurance
  • More volume in a shorter period of time
Altug Kop

Written by

TRAIN Digital Editor, contest prep coach and WBFF Pro fitness model.

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