T Nation

Difference Between Rest/Pause & Cluster Sets


I just read over the HCT-12 program. It seems like the only major difference between HCT-12 and DC is the use of clusters over rest/pause. What's the difference exactly? Are clusters not done to failure?


Old-school rest-pause as used by Mentzer etc: Very similar to clusters, although you (if I remember correctly) only do 1 rep per cluster, i.e. it's a stream of singles, say, 8 sinlges with 10 sec between them or something like that. As far as I can tell you don't really hit "failure" as such at the beginning, though maybe towards the end? Hmm.

DC rest-pause: go to failure, rack bar, take 12-15 deep breaths, take bar and go to failure, rack bar, 12-15 deep breaths, take bar and go to failure... And at the end maybe do a static hold or negative or whatever, at least for the advanced guys.

It's going to failure three times with short rest periods basically, racking the bar after each time you hit failure. You may end up doing 12-20 reps with your 8RM or 15-30 with your 12RM or whatever.

Lots of people copied and modified it and that's now generally known as "multi-rep rest-pause"...

Cluster training: Looks like different people do it differently, but in the case of the HCT-12 program, you ramp up like usual in reps of 6, once you can't add more weight, stick to what you're using and do 3 sets of 2 reps. So basically, you'll do 12 reps total at your 6RM of the day.
No micro-ramping here, but also no huge weight-jumps.

Basically, you do a cluster of reps, not to failure, and keep doing clusters in order to get a certain amount of reps with a certain weight. In the case of HCT-12, you do one set to failure or close to it at roughly your 6RM before the cluster sets, obviously.
Your reps always stay the same as you progress.

Fattyfat has a somewhat different way of doing clusters, where reps per cluster can vary.

And so on...


Also with DC you rotate 3 different exercise per body part. HCT-12 you can only choose one, which makes it more ideal for someone who trains at home.


I just don't see the benefit of doing 3 doubles after a set. I tried doing this exact protocol with one exercise last night (reverse grip bench in a smith). I ramped up the way they suggested - all ramp sets to 6. For one thing I felt that those ramp sets tired me out for reasons that I didn't want to get tired out from. I much prefer to decrease reps as I increase weight when ramping. Except for maybe the last cluster set the clusters were really easy to do.

Maybe I'm just too brainwashed into thinking that everything has to be taken to failure, beyond it or damn near close to it.


does anyone know what the benefit (if any) of doing clusters(doubles), over going to failure with Rest/pauses?