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Break up your sets to build raw strength

Photography iStock

There’s nothing more frustrating than reaching a max-weight plateau, because it will limit your strength gains. If that happens, give cluster sets a shot. A cluster set is one set of an exercise, but instead of only resting once all the reps are done you get mini-rest breaks between reps, allowing you to do more reps or lift closer to your max. In a new study published in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research, subjects of equal squat strength did three sets of five squats at 80% of their one-rep max, with three minutes of rest between sets. Later they were tested again but did cluster sets with 30 seconds of rest between individual reps, with three minutes of recovery after each full set. They all saw big increases in peak power output and bar speed, suggesting a clear value in trying cluster sets for anyone wanting to improve performance.

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