Cluster Sets Increase Velocity and Power
Selecting the right rep scheme is just as important as exercise selection when tailoring a program to a specific type of athlete. The typical breakdown is low reps equals strength and explosiveness, mid range reps hypertrophy, and high reps endurance. However, what if a set of 6 reps is broken into 3x2 with 30 seconds rest in between each micro set? This called a cluster set. The idea is that with a short rest interval between each cluster of reps, the body will have a little more time to recover and be able to work at a higher intensity across each rep thus increasing the quality of each rep.
Morales-Artacho et al. investigated how cluster sets on squats would affect vertical jump height. They compared one group that trained the traditional rep scheme 6x6 versus a group that trained 6x 3x2 cluster sets with 30 sec break between each cluster. They found that the cluster sets increased vertical jump height compared to the traditional 6x6 set group. Thus it can be concluded that cluster sets can improve velocity and power over and above traditional methods.
The idea of a cluster set and taking short rests in between clusters of reps can differ from traditional strength culture in that it is not about being tough and grinding through the entire set, but about the quality of each rep performed. There is definitely a place for building toughness and hypertrophy training where the athlete needs to be able to grind out a set, but implementing cluster sets can be a method to perform more high quality, higher intensity reps in a shorter period of time. When choosing weight for a cluster set, keep it similar to the traditional set, but focus on moving the weight faster each rep. Although the ability might be there to go heavier, failing on cluster sets will diminish the advantage of performing them in the first place. Just like any program, although cluster sets can be very useful, a variety of rep schemes should be incorporated to address each training goal.
Find the article here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29570595