Advanced Training Techniques for Destroying Plateaus
Hypertrophy Cluster Sets
Cluster Sets are often referred to as "Rest-Pause" Training. That meaning when your muscles tire in an exercise, taking a 10 - 30 second rest between reps revitalized them, allowing you to preform more reps in a set.
Vince DelMonte addressed this in the above article posted on this site.
While it has it's place in training, some of the latest research does not indicate this to be as effective for Hypertrophy nor Limit Strength (1 Repetition Max) Training.
The Size Principle
The Muscle Firing sequence in a movement is: Type I (Slow Twitch) > Type IIa (Fast Twitch) > Type IIb ("Super" Fast Twitch).
This means Slow Twitch are brought into action first. Then Type IIa Fast Twitch are. Type IIb "Super" Fast Twitch are the last called into action.
Muscle Fiber Fatigue
In an exercise, when the Slow Twitch Muscle Fiber become exhausted, the Type IIa Fast Twitch are called into play.
When the Type IIa Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber are exhausted, the "Super" Fast Twitch Type IIb are called into action.
Thus, to fully engage and work the "Super" Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber at some point in a training cycle you MUST go to failure.
Cluster Sets Reset The Muscle Firing Sequence
The problem with Cluster Set Training for Hypertrophy or Limit Strength Training is that ANY rest taken BETWEEN repetitions...
RESETS The Muscle Firing Sequence
That means ANY pause between repetitions takes you back to using the Type I Slow Twitch Muscle Fiber.
Thus, you do not fully tap into the Type IIb/"Super" Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber.
Getting Out of Line
Think of it like standing in line at the grocery store. You suddenly remember that you did not get something.
You get out of line and go get it.
You then have to get at the back of the line and start all over.
Type IIb "Super" Fast Muscle Fiber Overload
The key to increasing muscle size (Hypertrophy) and you maximum strength (Limit Strength) is to overload Type IIb/"Super" Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber.
To fully overload (work the crap out of them) the Type IIb/"Super" Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber, at some point in your training cycle, you need to push the exercise to failure or damn near close to it.
Training To Failure
Training to failure in your training should be limited for those who are intermediate and advance.
That means, if you cycle is 4 weeks, max out on you exercises on the 4th week.
About anything and everything works for a novice.
However, as a novice advances, they often learn the hard way, that training to failure lead to Overreaching and then Overtraining.