Giant Clusters on Density layers

Hey CT I was wondering what are your thoughts on using Giant clusters on the density layer method if one’s goal was to increase strength? I was thinking Ramping to a 1,2,3RM then using 85%-90% of The max ramp to get as many cluster reps as possible in 10 minutes.

[quote]dlee34 wrote:
Hey CT I was wondering what are your thoughts on using Giant clusters on the density layer method if one’s goal was to increase strength? I was thinking Ramping to a 1,2,3RM then using 85%-90% of The max ramp to get as many cluster reps as possible in 10 minutes.[/quote]

Yes, that is one method I use fairly often. It works well for both strength and size.

@CT,

i don’t want to hijack the thread, but was wondering if i could get your opinion…

9 times out of 10, i ramp to my 3rm rather than 1/2/5rm. i feel its a sweetspot for strength, size and CNS Recovery.

for the timed density work (which is my new favourite thing after carries!) i normally use 90% of my 3rm ramp… with this weight, i try to get as many sets of 3 as i can…

i usually get between 8 and 10 sets 3 within the 10minutes?

is this a good way to set up the density layers?

thanks,

[quote]lboro21 wrote:
@CT,

i don’t want to hijack the thread, but was wondering if i could get your opinion…

9 times out of 10, i ramp to my 3rm rather than 1/2/5rm. i feel its a sweetspot for strength, size and CNS Recovery.

for the timed density work (which is my new favourite thing after carries!) i normally use 90% of my 3rm ramp… with this weight, i try to get as many sets of 3 as i can…

i usually get between 8 and 10 sets 3 within the 10minutes?

is this a good way to set up the density layers?

thanks,[/quote]

90% of a 3RM is roughly 81% of your 1RM… so the load is fine.

That gives your 30 reps in 10 minutes, which isn’t much. I normally want people to be able to do 50 reps or more with 80% in 10 minutes. I believe that you are either:

  1. Reducing your performance by focusing on a fixed number of reps per set… just do reps … don’t focus on getting a certain number of sets and reps

  2. You are resting too much. 8 to 10 sets in 10 minutes is roughly one set every 60-75 seconds… a set of 3 will last at the most 10 seconds, maybe 20 if you include the set-up… which means rest intervals of 40-55 seconds… way way way too much, I wouldn’t even call it high density work… this is the amount of rest I get between normal sets.

During density work I normally shoot for rest periods of 15 to 20 seconds, with an OCCASIONAL 30-45 seconds of rest if I feel that fatigue is starting to accumulate too much but the later are far from being the norm.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]lboro21 wrote:
@CT,

i don’t want to hijack the thread, but was wondering if i could get your opinion…

9 times out of 10, i ramp to my 3rm rather than 1/2/5rm. i feel its a sweetspot for strength, size and CNS Recovery.

for the timed density work (which is my new favourite thing after carries!) i normally use 90% of my 3rm ramp… with this weight, i try to get as many sets of 3 as i can…

i usually get between 8 and 10 sets 3 within the 10minutes?

is this a good way to set up the density layers?

thanks,[/quote]

90% of a 3RM is roughly 81% of your 1RM… so the load is fine.

That gives your 30 reps in 10 minutes, which isn’t much. I normally want people to be able to do 50 reps or more with 80% in 10 minutes. I believe that you are either:

  1. Reducing your performance by focusing on a fixed number of reps per set… just do reps … don’t focus on getting a certain number of sets and reps

  2. You are resting too much. 8 to 10 sets in 10 minutes is roughly one set every 60-75 seconds… a set of 3 will last at the most 10 seconds, maybe 20 if you include the set-up… which means rest intervals of 40-55 seconds… way way way too much, I wouldn’t even call it high density work… this is the amount of rest I get between normal sets.

During density work I normally shoot for rest periods of 15 to 20 seconds, with an OCCASIONAL 30-45 seconds of rest if I feel that fatigue is starting to accumulate too much but the later are far from being the norm.
[/quote]

so, if you can’t perform as you describe above, should you just lighten the load some?

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]lboro21 wrote:
@CT,

i don’t want to hijack the thread, but was wondering if i could get your opinion…

9 times out of 10, i ramp to my 3rm rather than 1/2/5rm. i feel its a sweetspot for strength, size and CNS Recovery.

for the timed density work (which is my new favourite thing after carries!) i normally use 90% of my 3rm ramp… with this weight, i try to get as many sets of 3 as i can…

i usually get between 8 and 10 sets 3 within the 10minutes?

is this a good way to set up the density layers?

thanks,[/quote]

90% of a 3RM is roughly 81% of your 1RM… so the load is fine.

That gives your 30 reps in 10 minutes, which isn’t much. I normally want people to be able to do 50 reps or more with 80% in 10 minutes. I believe that you are either:

  1. Reducing your performance by focusing on a fixed number of reps per set… just do reps … don’t focus on getting a certain number of sets and reps

  2. You are resting too much. 8 to 10 sets in 10 minutes is roughly one set every 60-75 seconds… a set of 3 will last at the most 10 seconds, maybe 20 if you include the set-up… which means rest intervals of 40-55 seconds… way way way too much, I wouldn’t even call it high density work… this is the amount of rest I get between normal sets.

During density work I normally shoot for rest periods of 15 to 20 seconds, with an OCCASIONAL 30-45 seconds of rest if I feel that fatigue is starting to accumulate too much but the later are far from being the norm.
[/quote]

Thanks, I hear you! The thing is, for the last 2-3 sets I’m really pushing to get 3 reps per set! On my muscle snatches I fight to stop my form breaking down! Should I lighten the load? Or maybe do as many sets of 2 as I can?

The rest periods will be longer with slightly higher reps, won’t they? The load is slightly lighter, but the set lasts longer.

I’ve done density work twice so far, getting 25 reps in 5 minutes on slight incline press from pins and 26 in 5 on trap bar deads, using 80% of my 3RM, so probably 72% of 1RM. So a bit low, but not dramatically so, especially for the first time. All sets on slight incline were 5 reps, trap deads were a mix of 5 and 4. Rest periods were about 30-40s if I remember the clock correctly.

I imagine shortening the rest periods and getting an extra set would be a nice way to progress here then.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
During density work I normally shoot for rest periods of 15 to 20 seconds, with an OCCASIONAL 30-45 seconds of rest if I feel that fatigue is starting to accumulate too much but the later are far from being the norm.
[/quote]

This applies to HDL sets too, correct?

I’ve been taking normal length rest periods between cluster sets, but shortened rests between HDL sets. Just want to make sure I’m doing it right.

[quote]domcib wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]lboro21 wrote:
@CT,

i don’t want to hijack the thread, but was wondering if i could get your opinion…

9 times out of 10, i ramp to my 3rm rather than 1/2/5rm. i feel its a sweetspot for strength, size and CNS Recovery.

for the timed density work (which is my new favourite thing after carries!) i normally use 90% of my 3rm ramp… with this weight, i try to get as many sets of 3 as i can…

i usually get between 8 and 10 sets 3 within the 10minutes?

is this a good way to set up the density layers?

thanks,[/quote]

90% of a 3RM is roughly 81% of your 1RM… so the load is fine.

That gives your 30 reps in 10 minutes, which isn’t much. I normally want people to be able to do 50 reps or more with 80% in 10 minutes. I believe that you are either:

  1. Reducing your performance by focusing on a fixed number of reps per set… just do reps … don’t focus on getting a certain number of sets and reps

  2. You are resting too much. 8 to 10 sets in 10 minutes is roughly one set every 60-75 seconds… a set of 3 will last at the most 10 seconds, maybe 20 if you include the set-up… which means rest intervals of 40-55 seconds… way way way too much, I wouldn’t even call it high density work… this is the amount of rest I get between normal sets.

During density work I normally shoot for rest periods of 15 to 20 seconds, with an OCCASIONAL 30-45 seconds of rest if I feel that fatigue is starting to accumulate too much but the later are far from being the norm.
[/quote]

so, if you can’t perform as you describe above, should you just lighten the load some?
[/quote]

It depends on what’s the cause… the cause can be:

  1. weight is too heavy
  2. muscle get pumped which inhibits the contraction (lactate and hydrogen ions interfere with muscle contraction)
  3. lack of metabolic conditioning

If the reason is 1) the weights will feel heavy even if the muscles are fairly fresh and you are not out of breath… this is rarely the case with density work, although it can happen

One of the main reasons is that you build up lactate from the high density of work… in that case I personally prefer to stick with very short rest intervals BUT do much fewer reps. That way you do get used to the high density aspect. For example if you normally try to get 3-5 reps per set during the density work, shoot for 1 or 2 and keep the rest intervals super short and as you improve increase that to 2-3 reps per set, then after 2 weeks or so to 3-4 then after another 2 weeks you can try for 4-5.

Another solution, one that I personally like, is to alternate a higher rep set, than a single… for example 4 reps… 20 seconds… 1 rep… 20 seconds … 4 reps … 20 seconds … 1 rep … 20 reps… etc Then after a week or two you try 4 reps… 20 sec … 2 reps … 20 sec …4 reps… 20 sec… etc… then after a week or two 4-3… then try to get all 4, and try to get all 5s

The lack of conditioning can be another problem, especially on movements like the squat and deadlift. In that case I like the same solution ad the first above… doing all singles with very short rest… then after 1-2 weeks do 2s… after 1-2 weeks do 3s, etc.

Lactate accumulation would result in a quick dropoff in the number of reps, for example 5,4,2,1…, correct?

[quote]BiP wrote:
Lactate accumulation would result in a quick dropoff in the number of reps, for example 5,4,2,1…, correct?[/quote]

Yes, but it’s more of a feeling… lactate and hydrogen ions make you feel like you can still push the weight BUT for some reason your muscles do not seem to respond to the command.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]BiP wrote:
Lactate accumulation would result in a quick dropoff in the number of reps, for example 5,4,2,1…, correct?[/quote]

Yes, but it’s more of a feeling… lactate and hydrogen ions make you feel like you can still push the weight BUT for some reason your muscles do not seem to respond to the command.[/quote]

Gotcha.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]domcib wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]lboro21 wrote:
@CT,

i don’t want to hijack the thread, but was wondering if i could get your opinion…

9 times out of 10, i ramp to my 3rm rather than 1/2/5rm. i feel its a sweetspot for strength, size and CNS Recovery.

for the timed density work (which is my new favourite thing after carries!) i normally use 90% of my 3rm ramp… with this weight, i try to get as many sets of 3 as i can…

i usually get between 8 and 10 sets 3 within the 10minutes?

is this a good way to set up the density layers?

thanks,[/quote]

90% of a 3RM is roughly 81% of your 1RM… so the load is fine.

That gives your 30 reps in 10 minutes, which isn’t much. I normally want people to be able to do 50 reps or more with 80% in 10 minutes. I believe that you are either:

  1. Reducing your performance by focusing on a fixed number of reps per set… just do reps … don’t focus on getting a certain number of sets and reps

  2. You are resting too much. 8 to 10 sets in 10 minutes is roughly one set every 60-75 seconds… a set of 3 will last at the most 10 seconds, maybe 20 if you include the set-up… which means rest intervals of 40-55 seconds… way way way too much, I wouldn’t even call it high density work… this is the amount of rest I get between normal sets.

During density work I normally shoot for rest periods of 15 to 20 seconds, with an OCCASIONAL 30-45 seconds of rest if I feel that fatigue is starting to accumulate too much but the later are far from being the norm.
[/quote]

so, if you can’t perform as you describe above, should you just lighten the load some?
[/quote]

It depends on what’s the cause… the cause can be:

  1. weight is too heavy
  2. muscle get pumped which inhibits the contraction (lactate and hydrogen ions interfere with muscle contraction)
  3. lack of metabolic conditioning

If the reason is 1) the weights will feel heavy even if the muscles are fairly fresh and you are not out of breath… this is rarely the case with density work, although it can happen

One of the main reasons is that you build up lactate from the high density of work… in that case I personally prefer to stick with very short rest intervals BUT do much fewer reps. That way you do get used to the high density aspect. For example if you normally try to get 3-5 reps per set during the density work, shoot for 1 or 2 and keep the rest intervals super short and as you improve increase that to 2-3 reps per set, then after 2 weeks or so to 3-4 then after another 2 weeks you can try for 4-5.

Another solution, one that I personally like, is to alternate a higher rep set, than a single… for example 4 reps… 20 seconds… 1 rep… 20 seconds … 4 reps … 20 seconds … 1 rep … 20 reps… etc Then after a week or two you try 4 reps… 20 sec … 2 reps … 20 sec …4 reps… 20 sec… etc… then after a week or two 4-3… then try to get all 4, and try to get all 5s

The lack of conditioning can be another problem, especially on movements like the squat and deadlift. In that case I like the same solution ad the first above… doing all singles with very short rest… then after 1-2 weeks do 2s… after 1-2 weeks do 3s, etc.
[/quote]

This is Totally Amazing!!
All these years, I have never thought of trying some of this out. I had thought that for myself, I could do sets of 1 or 2 reps with, let’s say 80%, fairly easily. But, never really tried because I thought it was “wrong” or “not good”. I thought I would have to keep doing the sets of 5ish, til i trained my body to get used to it.
Damn, that is some great info here! You just made my day! I can’t wait to play with this. I may need to rewrite the whole program I just wrote.:slight_smile:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]domcib wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]lboro21 wrote:
@CT,

i don’t want to hijack the thread, but was wondering if i could get your opinion…

9 times out of 10, i ramp to my 3rm rather than 1/2/5rm. i feel its a sweetspot for strength, size and CNS Recovery.

for the timed density work (which is my new favourite thing after carries!) i normally use 90% of my 3rm ramp… with this weight, i try to get as many sets of 3 as i can…

i usually get between 8 and 10 sets 3 within the 10minutes?

is this a good way to set up the density layers?

thanks,[/quote]

90% of a 3RM is roughly 81% of your 1RM… so the load is fine.

That gives your 30 reps in 10 minutes, which isn’t much. I normally want people to be able to do 50 reps or more with 80% in 10 minutes. I believe that you are either:

  1. Reducing your performance by focusing on a fixed number of reps per set… just do reps … don’t focus on getting a certain number of sets and reps

  2. You are resting too much. 8 to 10 sets in 10 minutes is roughly one set every 60-75 seconds… a set of 3 will last at the most 10 seconds, maybe 20 if you include the set-up… which means rest intervals of 40-55 seconds… way way way too much, I wouldn’t even call it high density work… this is the amount of rest I get between normal sets.

During density work I normally shoot for rest periods of 15 to 20 seconds, with an OCCASIONAL 30-45 seconds of rest if I feel that fatigue is starting to accumulate too much but the later are far from being the norm.
[/quote]

so, if you can’t perform as you describe above, should you just lighten the load some?
[/quote]

It depends on what’s the cause… the cause can be:

  1. weight is too heavy
  2. muscle get pumped which inhibits the contraction (lactate and hydrogen ions interfere with muscle contraction)
  3. lack of metabolic conditioning

If the reason is 1) the weights will feel heavy even if the muscles are fairly fresh and you are not out of breath… this is rarely the case with density work, although it can happen

One of the main reasons is that you build up lactate from the high density of work… in that case I personally prefer to stick with very short rest intervals BUT do much fewer reps. That way you do get used to the high density aspect. For example if you normally try to get 3-5 reps per set during the density work, shoot for 1 or 2 and keep the rest intervals super short and as you improve increase that to 2-3 reps per set, then after 2 weeks or so to 3-4 then after another 2 weeks you can try for 4-5.

Another solution, one that I personally like, is to alternate a higher rep set, than a single… for example 4 reps… 20 seconds… 1 rep… 20 seconds … 4 reps … 20 seconds … 1 rep … 20 reps… etc Then after a week or two you try 4 reps… 20 sec … 2 reps … 20 sec …4 reps… 20 sec… etc… then after a week or two 4-3… then try to get all 4, and try to get all 5s

The lack of conditioning can be another problem, especially on movements like the squat and deadlift. In that case I like the same solution ad the first above… doing all singles with very short rest… then after 1-2 weeks do 2s… after 1-2 weeks do 3s, etc.
[/quote]

Wow thanks for the advice CT! Very comprehensive! I think I’ll see how many reps I get using 2 reps at a time. If no success I’ll drop the weight :slight_smile:

CT, I’ve been following your ramp to a 3RM, 5X3 @70% (raised from original recommendation of 65%) with 30 sec. rest, 5X2 with 20 lbs. more, 5X1 with 20 lbs. more. So for a recent dead/squat it looked like:

Ramp to 3 RM = 435 lbs.
5X3 = 305 (70%)
5X2 = 325 (~75%)
5X1 = 345 (~80%)

So, that’s 30 total density reps ranging from 70-80% of my ramp, with 30 sec. rest between sets. It takes me ~ 8-9 min. mainly because of the number of sets. Given that you said you like to see people get 50 or more reps at 80% in 10 mins., and I’m close to the 10 min. mark at only 70-80% and 30 reps, I assume you would recommend I shorten the rest periods to 15-20 sec. (only allowing 30 sec. if/when I feel fatigue accumulating.

Also, would you progress this by first increasing the % of my ramp that I do for the density work, or by shortening the rest periods?

Thanks,

Crowbar