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CT's Ramp/Cluster/HDL Method


I haven’t been reading spills for a long while. Could someone please clear me the principles of CT’s new methods? And could show some workout examples for one day? Thank you very much!

I found this from one log:
7-8 sets where I increase the weight to my 1 RM
scheme is 3-3-3-1-1-1 (HOW MUCH TIME SHOLD I REST between micro sets ?)

90 % my 1 RM
1 rep, 10 sec, 1 rep, 10 sec… X 10 reps = 1 set repeat 3 times

70% of my 1RM
4 reps, 15 sec, 4 reps, 15 sec, 3 reps, 15 sec, 3 reps, 15 sec, 2 reps, 15 sec, 2 reps, 15 sec, 1 reps, 15 sec, 1 reps, 15 sec, rest 60-180 sec then repeat for a total of 3 sets

Is this correctly understood?

Christian Thibaudeau: LAYER SYSTEM PART 1: RAMP TO MAX: This first layer is all about activating the nervous system, increasing fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment and building the capacity to showcase strength. You basically ramp up gradually toward your max for the day. Start at about 40-50% and add 10-20lbs per set until you hit your max. Perform sets of 3 for the first 2-3 sets then switch to singles to reduce fatigue. We want about 6-9 ramping sets including 3-4 heavy ones (above 90%).

Christian Thibaudeau: LAYER SYSTEM PART 2: CLUSTERS: Clusters develop the capacity to recruit AND stimulate more FT fibers. It is a very powerful method to increase size, strength and density (giving the muscles a harder look). You use 90% of the weight you reached in your ramp. One set has several reps (3-7) performed 10 seconds of rest between them. You rest the bar on every rep, which is why it’s best to start from pins or a deadstart. You stop the cluster set when you cannot perform more reps. You do 3 sets.
12-04-2012 06:47

Christian Thibaudeau: LAYER SYSTEM PART 3: HEAVY DENSITY LIFTING: This is the most effective way to stimulate as many fibers to grow as possible, especially now that the nervous system is “on”. Each set is as follow: 5 reps/rest 10-15 sec/4 reps/rest 10-15 sec/3 reps/rest 10-15 sec/2 reps/rest 10-15 sec/1 rep… if you were able to get more than 17 total cluster reps over 3 sets, instead of 5-4-3-2-1 for HDL you do 4-4-3-3-2-2-1-1… you start with 65-70% and ideally would eventually be able to use 80%. Do 3 sets.

Christian Thibaudeau: LAYER SYSTEM PART 4: MAX PUMP: This is an optional layer. The layer system is perfectly effective with just the first 3. But if you are using a powerful recovery agent like PLAZMA and want to take the pump to another level (driving more nutrients to the muscles) you can add the pump layer: One set is: hold the weight in mid range (peak for pulls) 5 sec./do 5 reps/hold 4 sec/do 4 reps/hold 3 sec./do 3 reps/hold 2 sec/do 2 reps/hold 1 sec/do 1 rep…

Christian Thibaudeau: MAX PUMP (2): There is no pause during a max pump set (the “pause” is during the isometric hold… which is actually the hardest part!). Use 40-50% of the ramped max and perform 2-3 sets.

Christian Thibaudeau: Hopefully this will be helpful for those who missed all the earlier stuff on the layering system.

Thank you Angus for finding those explanations! Are you supposed to use same exercise (eg. squat) for all parts of the system? And per workout only few different exercises? For example: Squat: layer system parts 1-3, then overhead press: parts 1-3. And that’s all for the day.

[quote]TKH wrote:
Thank you Angus for finding those explanations! Are you supposed to use same exercise (eg. squat) for all parts of the system? And per workout only few different exercises? For example: Squat: layer system parts 1-3, then overhead press: parts 1-3. And that’s all for the day.[/quote]

NO. The system is One and ONLY one lift a day. He is now experimenting with 3 sets of simply rowing as a finisher for the high pull/back days, but ABSOLUTELY NO second exercise after legs or pressing movements!!

YES. Use the same exercise for all parts of the system. For this reason CT DOES NOT recommend regular squats-- 1) unracking/re-racking weights between clusters and HDL sets drains performance something fierce and 2) even more importantly–ESPECIALLY with a beginner, form sucks ass and will lead to injury, even “solid form” beginners (which aren’t ever solid in the first place).

For these two reasons the only style of squatting CT allows is from the safety pins up–set the safety pins at the bottom of the squat, get under the weight, and squat it up, then set it back on the pins for rest between clusters or between each individual rep of the HDL sets. Yes, you max with the same style, from the pins up. You rest between 1.5-2 minutes on max ramp sets when it starts to get heavy. And no, partial squats are not allowed, pins must be set at the very very bottom (olympic lifting style depth) or at 90 degrees for the people who lack the flexibility to get into proper position for the olympic depth squats. No “top half” or “3/4” squats.

Christian Thibaudeau: MAX RAMP/CLUSTER/HDL FOR BEGINNERS: The max ramp and cluster are very high intensity, especially for someone who has little training experience. While a scaled down version will not be as effective for am intermediate or advanced lifter, it might be for a beginner. In that case I recommend ramping to a 5RM for the first 3 weeks and to a 3RM for weeks 4-6 (instead of ramping to a 1RM), then using 90% of that to do the clusters (you will obviously do more than 3-7 reps per cluster, maybe 7-12)

Christian Thibaudeau: MAX RAMP/CLUSTER/HDL FOR BEGINNERS (2): I also recommend 4 cluster sets and 4 HDL sets instead of 3

So you can use either a 3RM or a 5 RM, but not a 1 RM for your ramp. Cluster sets are still single reps but you can expect to get more than 5 singles per cluster because your top weight is lower. You must still use between 6-9 total sets to reach your max 5RM or 3RM when ramping. For example: If your max is going to be 200, then you need to reach your top weight on set 6-8 ish. Might look like— 80x5, 100x5, 120x5, 140x5, 160x5, 180x5, 200x5 . If it ended up being too light you can take one more set (to be #9) and set a PR. Small jumps of 10-20 ish pounds.

Alright, I will use this method for one lift per day.

So for lower body I should use squat from pins (Anderson squat, right?), for upper body push: standing overhead press from pins (at the nose or eye level), for upper body pull: high pulls (like: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/the_clean_high_pull)

And apparently you can use other exercises as well. You just need to be able to re-rack easily, in other words pins are a great solution. I appreciate your help Aragorn!

You can use anderson squats., I believe that CT would say be careful of super wide stance squats becaise a reaaally wide stance can put some discomfort to the hips (as a number of raw powerlifters have complained for years about sore hips), but I don’t think he would be against them by any means, just say 1) be sensitive to your body and 2) make sure the pins are set f or parallel not top half squats lol.

I prefer a narrower stance but that is just personal preference.

This system is meant to be either 5 or 6 days a week.

Something like: front squat, bench LOW incline tilt, high pull, overhead press, deadlift, bench decline tilt. All from pins except high pulls which are from blocks.

Thank you Aragorn

Haha, no worries Xen. I love your postings btw, very informative on the Combat section along with that last study you posted!

Aragon or others anyone still doing layers? I don’t know what it is but I psychologically (and even physiologically it seems) just go back to this style of training.

It’s too damn good and intuitive. The ramp autoregulates your performance, taking bigger jumps and heavier weight when good. Smaller jumps and little less intensity when bad. The cluster really gets your in groove. Only thing is HDL is pretty intense and I’ve been doing something like 5x5 or triples in 15 minutes instead.

Wanna get shredded without losing mass? Do strength layers and get diet in check.
Add size? Do standard layers and take lots plazma/carbs.
Practice gymnastics/do bodybuilding stuff -> throw it in after 10-15 min for body parts worked.
Could probably cure cancer

Without fail it gets me looking jacked asap again.

any suggestions how to program deadlifts