T Nation

Cluster Training


(Question for everyone)

Thib I know you're an advocate of cluster training since you dabbled in Oly lifting.

I'm thinking of using clusters only on my deadlifts, squats and possibly overhead press. I don't BB bench anymore because of a wrist issue so I use DBs on bench press, so maybe I can use clusters on that too.

So is that a good idea? And I'm thinking of using a 15s rest. Not too long, not too short. But what would the target rep be? I'm totally clueless on clusters and the reps/sets schemes to be used.

Can you/anyone give me an example of cluster training?

Thanks y'all.


I think he wrote an article and included clusters in it...



Thanks good read.


I've been using clusters at the beginning of my workouts as a means of CNS stimulation before heading into the main workout:

Flat Bench: Warm-ups then 1 set of 1-1-1-1-1

Main workout:

A1) DB Bench
A2) DB Incline Bench

B1) DB Decline Flye
B2) Cable Flye

Some exercises/muscle groups lend themselves to clusters easily (Bench, Squat, Deadlift). I think it may be difficult to find a back exercise in which you can do clusters without 'cheating'.

Barbell Rows are pretty much out because you have so much CNS stimulation going on everywhere else it's really hard to stimulate the targeted area effectively...well, that's my opinion anyway. Pullup or Chest Supported Row may be a good option though.


Out of curiouslity how many sets and reps are we talking for those chest exercises? I take it you hit chest 1 day per week? I'm not trying to critique your program, I just want to know if it's what you really do and what are the specifics, because I only do two chest exercises and it gets me pretty sore, but I hit chest every 3 days. Thanks man.


Well my current training is a little abnormal.

I did a 1 week chest specialization, 1 week back specialization, 1 week shoulder specializatioin, 1 week arm specialization, 1 week leg specialization. Why? Shits and Giggles. To see how often I could really slam a muscle.

My routine for chest was:

1 set of Flat Bench Clusters 1-1-1-1-1 at a 2-3rm
2minute rest. Then onto normal workout:

A1)DB 4 Bells Bench
A2)DB 4 Bells Incline
90s rest between sets and exercises

B1)DB Decline Flye
B2)Standing Cable Crossover w/Squeeze *Cable set at head level. Squeeze down to chest level. Cross arms over and squeeze like shit.
90s rest between sets and execises

Monday was 5 sets of 5
Thursday was 4 sets of 10
Saturday was 3 sets of 15
Tuesday and Friday were 3 sets of 10 light total body missing any repetitive movements (no shoulder or tri work)

It's a specialization program so it's not a week in and week out routine. I could however see doing clusters or singles or partials at the beginning of a workout for CNS stimulation. My guess is that T-nations new fangled Hypertrophy program has this CNS stim built it. Somewhat similar to Poliquins 1-6 principle. A single set of clusters can stimulate the CNS without total exausting it such as in a "normal" protocol of mutliple sets of clusters.

Key Point: The Monday 5x5 knocks the shit out of you because it is very demanding on the CNS because of the high load. That's why I did light total body Tuesday, then off completely Wednesday before hitting chest again Thursday and Saturday. In fact, with my back and shoulder specialization I did my 4x10 on Thursday and 3x15 on Friday without any problems...although the Friday cluster at the start of the workout was much more difficult.


dabbled??? dabbled??? he was an elite-level Olympic lifter.
Ya, i hear he dabbles in bodybuilding training and dabbles in article writing.