T Nation

Density Layer

To all:

I’ve been performing layered systems for a while now, making nice strength gains. I’m dieting at the moment, so I really only perform a Ramp, then Density (clusters, etc) and Loaded Carries. I sometimes do assistance lifts for bench and some brief lat work on SGHP days.

I’ve recently had to perform workouts in a limited amount of time, so instead of doing clusters for my density work I instead performed as many singles in 10 minutes. The result–same amount of total reps as in my Clusters but in half the time. So, I’ve been getting better workouts!

My question: Is this a good way to continue doing the density layer? Or should I switch back to my Clusters (but with shortened rest periods to simulate the work I’ve done in the 10 minute limit)?

To clarify: I’ve been distinguishing this “density” layer from a Volume layer (which in my eyes would be akin to HDL). So, no, I haven’t been doing much HDL work at all; just the ramp and density to build strength and power.

Thank you.

Seems to me like what you are doing is just like the heavy singles work out. The heavy singles combine the density and volume into one layer.

I switched to the heavy singles workouts about a month ago from the layers system because the layers, especially the strength phase, was too much heavy volume for my knees. After the strength month my knees were killing me almost constantly. I will say though, my strength gains were sick. I think the problem is that I am 36, new to the heavy lifting, and I don’t have access to plazma etc here in China (Biotest should find a rep here in my opinion). My strength gains far outpaced my soft tissue’s ability to adapt.

Hmm. . . I haven’t read anything about fusing a density and volume layer, but I suppose that does make sense. For me, I don’t think it’s quite at the level of “volume” as I’m still getting below 20 total reps. It’s something to work toward. Although, I did use this approach when I was pressed for time, so I’ll probably go back to doing Clusters, at least for the moment. I will admit the “heavy singles” were awesome! I used 85% of my 1RM, and it felt great.

Personally, I’d love to have some Plazma, but sadly it’s too much for me right now. I did order a tub of SWF around December, and it was amazing. I hope Biotest refills their stock of SWF. . . I’m paranoid that they’re trying to limit the choices to the one-and-only Plazma! ie the more expensive, albeit much better, version of SWF.

ah-ha! Thanks for linking that. So, I am taking a guess by suggesting that the MAIN difference between HEAVY SINGLES and CLUSTERS is the amount of reps/rest?

The only difference for me, as a novice with this sort of training, is the amount of rest between singles. With my clusters, I felt I could rest a bit more in-between reps AND cluster sets. When I limited myself to 10 mins, I was resting between reps LESS and never really stopped this momentum–there was never a “break” as when I performed clusters (where the break occurred once I stopped a cluster set)

The clusters are done with heavier weight (about 90% of that days training max) and rest is about 5 - 15 seconds between reps. The singles are done with about 80% of whatever that days training max is. The rest between singles is whatever you need it to be to keep doing reps explosively and with good form. So, for me, the first maybe 3 - 4 minutes have similar rest to the clusters but the last couple minutes (or usually the last 10 reps or so) I am resting maybe 10 - 30 seconds between reps.

Or I might keep the pace with the short rest but then take like a 30 - 45 second rest then go back to the cluster pace (I especially do this on deadlift day as I find that I need to like “walk it off” a little bit towards the end to keep going). The heavy singles you are just trying to do a quickly as you can.

Also, with the heavy singles you have your ramp up then you have the “heavy” portion of the work which are a single at 95%, 92% and 90%. That is different from the original layer format too.

Thanks for the info, I really appreciate it. I might continue doing the Cluster format, working within a 85-90% of the Ramp. I’m cutting calories a bit, so I might save the Heavy Singles format for when I’m trying to add mass again. Unless I can do them regardless. . . They were pretty amazing!

Here’s another question in case anybody finds their way here: let’s say I’m ramping to a 3RM–are my clusters 90% of THIS number, or my 1RM?

Yes, the clusters are 90% of whatever the RM is for that day. So, on the 1 RM day you are likely only going to be able to do maybe 2-5 reps for your first cluster set. On the 3 rm day you might be able to exceed 7 reps for your first cluster set. The rule is: If you exceed 7 reps on a cluster set, next set add 10 lbs. If you get less than 3 on a cluster set, next set take off 10 lbs. I almost always exceed 7 reps on my 3 RM cluster sets so the second set add 10 lbs. Second set usually get 6 or 7. If you exceed on the second set, add 10 lbs again for the third set.

Gotcha, thank you. I’ve been using 85% on clusters–was only getting 9 total reps in the beginning (that’s including all cluster sets)–now I’m getting either close to 20, or slightly above. So, I think I’m ready to finally work within the 90% range. When I last did high pulls, I was working with 85% of my 1RM and getting 7 singles each cluster, so maybe 90% of the 3RM will be a god starting place.

Thanks for the help.