My goal is to build a great physique. Big muscles, lean body, powerful looking. That is my ultimate goal. And I use performance tools to reach that goal. However, part of the process is focusing on strength. A strength focus will make your muscle look more dense and will also make any subsequent "hypertrophy" workouts more effective.
I also found that while HDL-type work (5-4-3-2-1, extended sets, hard 5, etc.) can help you build more muscle, they work best when used in short cycles. For the first 3-4 weeks they lead to rapid changes in muscle mass and look. However much past that it will actually have detrimental effect on strength progression which will eventually hurt your overall progress.
So every 4-5 weeks it is a good idea to use a strength-based layer phase.
Here's a good one that I did this morning for the slight decline bench from pins (but it can be applied to other big lifts used in the layer system).
- Ramp to a training 1RM (maximum without form breakdown or having to psych yourself up before the lift)
- 3 sets of clusters with 90% of your 1RM ramp (if you can't get 3 reps, decrease the weight on the next set, if you can get 6, increase it)
- Lower back down to 70% and ramp up to a 2RM
- 2 sets of clusters with 90% of your 2RM (same recommendations as with the previous cluster)
- Lower back down to 70% and ramp up to a 3RM
- 1 set of clusters with 90% of your 3RM (same cluster rules)
- Lower to 70% do ONE max reps set, (NOT extended sets)