T Nation

Clusters and Muscle Fiber Types


Though 10-11 months of layer sessions, I still see huge differences in performance of clusters from pulls vs. presses.

After a 2RM on SGHP's, I always get 6 cluster reps at 90%, and increase weight 10lbs. 2nd set, same thing: get 6, add 10 lbs. On the other hand, when I press (incline or decline) I start at 86-88% of my 2RM, and almost always have to lower weight on the 2nd or 3rd set (or both!) because I got 3 or fewer cluster reps.

Do you see this difference with your athletes? Is this likely because the pressing muscles are more type IIb fibers? I ask because my RM has increased in my presses, w/ less change in size for triceps and chest. Conversely, my SGHP max has not changed much, but my upper back is starting to get noticed by co-workers. (Thanks for that, by the way!!!)


This has nothing to do with fiber type. Many people have reported it so far. It's just the nature of the lift... more muscles are involved in the high pull so you can compensate more easily. Furthermore there is a different between a 100% on a high pull and a 100% on bench since on the high pull you must be able to accelerate the bar, so a 100% on a high pull is probably more like an 85-90% on a regular strength lift.

Finally on high pull it is a little bit less clear what constitutes a good rep. Sometimes you wont even notice a 1" difference in pulling height, but that 1" makes a huge difference in the amount of force you need to produce. On the bench it's pretty clear whether you get it or not.


Ah! Thanks!
I stop the SGHP ramp when the bar speed changes (or form degrades). Bench ramp stops when it feels like the next lift would be a grinder. I am more "explosive" than "strong" so I can see how this would make a big difference.

I wonder, if I did my presses with more speed, and stopped the ramp and the cluster set when the bar speed slowed (instead of mechanical failure) - so stopping at 85-90% of a "slow" press, if that would help make a difference in hypertrophy. I can't imagine it would hurt strength to do presses more dynamically. Have you tried this with anyone?

I guess a band press could do a similar thing. With a band press, if I don't start fast, I can never lock them out.