Cluster Sets Help Maintain Rep Velocity

Muscle adaptations require a combination of neural and muscle fiber stimulation. Training explosively is critical for developing power output capacity that builds strength. When lifting heavy weights, lift velocity decreases as reps progress. For example, when performing a 10-repetition maximum set— using the maximum weight you can lift for 10 reps— rep velocity slows down considerably between the third and 10th rep. The high-energy fuels adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and creatine phosphate (CP) deplete rapidly and contribute to fatigue and decreased lifting speed. Cluster sets— taking short rests within a set— is a good technique for maintaining lifting velocity during the entire set. For example, when doing four sets of 10 reps, the sequence of the cluster set would be five reps, rest 30 seconds, five reps, rest 90 seconds, five reps, rest 30 seconds, five reps, rest 90 seconds, etc. Jonathan Oliver from Texas Christian University found that lifting velocity and time under tension was greater when doing cluster set squats than traditional sets. The quality of the sets is greater using the cluster technique because the rest intervals promote resynthesis of high energy ATP and CP. (Journal Strength Conditioning Research, 30: 235-243, 2016)

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