T Nation

Extensive Cluster's


With the recent article by Dan John on Cluster, it got me thinking.

Coach Thibaudeau breaks cluster training into three levels, level 1 consisting of three methods, level 2 consisting of three methods and level 3. The first progression in level 1 for cluster training is the extended 5s method. Which in essence is 'Five Times the Excitement' in Dan John recent article. The goal of the extended 5s method is for the athlete to do 10 repetitions with a weight they can only do for 5 repetitions. Obviously this is an outstanding growth stimulus, as there is an increase in both intensity and volume.

I understand the theory, and I love the concept but what I'm not sure about and asking is the approach of doing these 10 reps with your 5rm. Mainly because I've read the two approaches.

Dan John stated in his article: 2-3-5. However I've read elsewhere that Thibaudeau states: 5-3-2.

I tried the 2-3-5 approach today, using a horizontal push and pull, it felt great but I'm curious towards the difference with doing it 5-3-2 instead, thats if there is any besides fatigue.



Come on guys, I'm not asking much, a simple question.

Yay or Nay?


I think I echo what most are probably thinking:

To be honest, I don't know, and I'm not sure it even matters. What I'm doing isn't complicated at all and I'm getting good results. In fact, most who got big didn't worry too much about this stuff, especially not agonising over small details like this.


Yeah OP it's like this for me dude.

I guess I 'execute-cluster-training' ( Oooohhh...I am soooo 'advanced' ) but I really don't 'think' about it, weeks ahead of time.

Sometimes I find, it feels right, sometimes it does not.

I do this shit when it feels right. I opt not to when it does not feel right.


Of Course. Most guys who got big eat a ton of food, and focused on heavy compound lifts. However, just to note that I never actually mentioned getting big in the OP.

I'm aware, and I realise this is a minor issue, but the question is in relation to my knowlodge, education, and own personal training alongside.

Just to mix things up, I throw in clusters now and again but I was only curious about the reserve approach; more importantly towards CNS stimulation, activation, and recover that was all.


I sometimes do these 'clusters', the 'reverse', way, and sometimes the 'obverse.'

Again I go by feel.

I can't help you with the CNS stuff. I do not know how to calculate my CNS fatigue or whatever, you would call that.

I never got into the CNS thing, though in HS people talked about it endlessly it seems. College lifters I knew did that same...

Sorry about that. I am just not a CNS dude.


I just go to the gym and lift weights these days, turning it into a math equation almost made me quit lifting.

No offense to what your saying, im sure it makes sense


Honestly man some of the best lifters in the WORLD do not worry about this stuff. Do you really think it matters for you or your clients or whatever your doing. Figure out your goals and act accordingly, stop dickin around with math equations.


Olympic lifters are one of the best lifters in the WORLD, and they do clusters without even thinking or knowing about it. I.E. They drop the bar in between reps and rest.

I do believe it makes a difference, the science I understand, and it's the science I believe in. Rather than just going to the gym and lifting weights. It's not a math equation, it's simple theory - The nervous system controls the muscles.

Anyways, Thanks for your input.



Beating the logbook for example for counting reps en counting breaths in between on the rest pause sets with DC.

With instinctive training lifting will become more automatic, but you'll need some years of training experience. Instinctive training for beginners is like letting a three year old drive a car.