Reviews of Training Programs

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With a lot of popular training systems in existence, I thought it would be good to have a thread that critiques other programs, showing why they do and don't work.

I have a lengthy IM from Vicious on DoggCrapp that should be a good start. A Max-OT post would be appreciated, and I'm sure there are many others. Please be honest with yourselves, if you aren't qualified to post on this thread then please don't, other than to request a review.
If you do a search, there's some old discussion on Doggcrapp training from a few years back. Much of that was involved with fascia stretching, DOMS, POF, and then the creation of my "DHST" variation of the standard routine.

I don't know quite all of the details of DC training; I've read his threads on mayhem and the animal board, but the inherently conversational style makes it had to pick out all the nooks and crannies. The following is my understanding of his system:

1) A 4-day rotation program. Loosely, we'll sequence it 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B.

2) Groups A and B target mutually exclusive bodyparts. For example, A = chest, triceps, back. B = legs, biceps, forearms.

3) You switch between two different, but similar compound movements for each exercise. 1A may have dips; 2A may have bench press.

4) You work within a 8-12 rep range for upper body, and may switch down to 20 breathing squats. One work set.

5) When you hit failure, you go into rest pause training. When you can't do that anymore, you may go into static holds. You, thus go beyond concentric failure and approach static failure in training.

6) Extreme stretches.

7) When the # of reps you can do to failure significantly drops, you then either switch up exercises or go into a 2-week "not all out" cycle. He leaves it toward your discretion what that may be.

I also assume that you don't go straight into DC training after a lengthy layoff. The DOMS would be so severe that you'd have to quit after the first week.

DC training philosophy has elements of hardgainer training (a variant of HIT) and the old-school HIT training system. It shares with HG training the belief that you should try to increase poundages every week, be it 2.5lbs or 5lbs, and also a preference for 20-rep breathing squats. It shares with old-school HIT training (from the 70s) a preference for post-failure techniques.

Thus, HST and DC both implement progressive loads at a fairly frequent rate. However, DC also introduces progressive fatigue and starts at a much higher fatiguing level than HST's 15s. DC is good at creating consistent sarcoplasmic hypertrophy; classic HST isn't. There's some speculation that if mitochondrial development falls behind, then sarcomere hypertrophy eventually falls behind too. Having really active energy systems is also important for optimal usage of a bulking diet toward hypertrophy.

The DC system is fairly aggressive in how it always going upwards in training weight. Unlike a hardgainer routine or a periodized program, there isn't a stair-step or undulating load parameter mechanism (i.e. wave cycle) to manage CNS responses to your body. It is also more aggressive than a traditional HIT program because you don't wait until you pass a certain rep range before you increase load (although in an old-school 3x-a-week full-body HIT routine, you would probably go up in training weight every week.) You go up every single time. Because of this, at some point , you will need to lessen your load increments to under the 5% threshhold

The increment issue is one of the reasons why the hardgainer routine tends to slow down significantly with its size gains, even though you hit a bodypart at least twice a week. This aspect of the DC training, in isolation of the other aspects of DC training, is to me a notable weakness with the system. This is also a weakness of most powerlifting systems for bodybuilding; however, because they start at a higher relative load (85-95% 1RM), this isn't as much a notable problem.

Pragmatically speaking, given that you sleep and eat properly, and consider taking a little caffeine before workouts, I think it's fairly realistic that you could go 4-6 weeks before you hit a strength plateau (i.e. when you can't increase the training load.) Bryan brings up that failure can drop your strength levels up to a week, but I feel it's in large part due to how much sarcomere disruption you experience from your workout. In other words, if you went straight into DC training after a 14-day layoff, the microtrauma from the training would be significant enough that your strength levels would plummet. Had you gone into DC training at a lighter load or say after a few weeks of moderate training, then your strength levels would only decline steadily. This is also part of the reason why you can train at your 5RM for another week or two on classic HST if you can't do negatives.

Thus we can say that, for the average trainee, classic HST and DC provide about 4-6 weeks of sarcomere-responsive progressive load (I'll assume 15s do nothing for sarcomere hypertrophy as a worst-case scenario.) With a little optimization (HST with its negatives, DC with its load increments), both can be expanded for a longer time, though I would argue that HST, by default, will always provide a longer period of weekly progressive load than DC. However, it can be argued that this is partially mitigated by the fact that you don't go on 9-14 days layoffs with DC training. The counerargument, though, is that you would have used supoptimal increments to prolong a DC cycle anyway. For the sake of argument, I'll say classic HST and DC are a draw in this.

Now, HST has an advantage over DC with its higher frequency. In a one week span, you'll have roughly 3 days/wk of elevated protein synthesis on DC, you'll have 4.5 days/wk on HST. For about a month (4 weeks), that's 12 days on DC, and 20 days on HST. Given the post-failure modality, it's not that realistic to increase DC's frequency. On HST, using a every-other-day, AM/PM setup, you could easily have elevated rates for 24-28 days per month. That's easily twice as long as DC per month. I should add, though, that even without elevated protein synthesis rates, you will still experience some growth provided there's significant microtrauma. Therefore, it's not the same thing as saying, you grow twice as often on HST than DC. But it goes without saying that both programs are much more efficient at generating adaptive responses than your standard MWF split.

If you wanted to use the DC system, I would actually recommend you try adding 1A compound movements into 1B, 2A compound movements into 2B, 2B movements into 1A. The difference would be that you'd simply train toward about 50-75% of the # of positive failure reps with the same load. So, if say you did 8 reps bench press before hitting failure during 1A, I'd do 4 reps of bench press again during 1B. I wouldn't repeat the isolation movements or stretch exercises. This is somewhat akin to HST zig-zagging; it's not enough to significantly hamper your neuromuscular recovery, but it's just enough to have a training effect on a bodypart every 2 days. Of course, you would only use this after you've figured out how you respond to DC training.

Finally, the extreme stretch. IMO, this is DC's major trump card over HST. I've brought up the effects of this on the thread before; in short, this would be the equivalent of adding very short high-load negative isolation movements into your 10s, and then making sure you keep progressing through the end of your HST program. These stretches, like introducing 5RM+ negatives early into your workout, overrides the regular sets the primary factor in creating sarcomere hypertrophy for many bodyparts. And because they create such disruption and stay ahead of RBE, they also override the declining load increments of the routine. As long as you can increase the stretch week-to-week (half of DC's stretches are angle or load-based, the other half involve increasing stretching time, which isn't as efficient), this effect on the training is huge. It's also no surprise that many trainees who don't as well under DC as Dante predicts, underuse this technique. It's supremely painful, but the lengthy stretch times is necessary to activate the golgi tendon's stretch reflex.

Therefore, workout to workout, the post-failure sets creates pretty optimal sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, the progressive loaded stretching creates consistent sarcomere hypertrophy. Of the latter, although the differences in sarcomere hypertrophy disappear as you approach the end of 5s (and you could argue that HST's negatives surpass DC training in sarcomere disruption), total time under DC with hightened sarcomere hypertrophy is still proportionally longer.

In short,

1) DC >> HST in sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
2) DC < HST in load progression increments
3) DC ~ HST in total productive cycle duration
4) DC << HST in total time of elevated protein synthesis
5) DC >> HST in initiating sarcomere hypertrophy

Thus, this is all-in-all why I argue that a DC routine would probably have slightly better results than a classic HST routine, provided you can handle it (Doggcrapp's routine isn't for the timid; if after your first workout, you don't feel like throwing up, you weren't doing his routine. ) However . . .

I would add that DC's program is sort of a tweaked HIT routine; a tweaked HST routine (such as a DHST variant) IMO would surpass DC.

How are the load increments structured and determined?

Lets say for instance that my Bench press 8RM is 220lbs, how do I use that in structuring my routine?

Could you provide a comparison of HST workout to DC workout? I'm just feeling a bit vague with regard to setting up your routine.

Also, for anyone who's interested I just found this:

DC Training Manual
Very nice, but not what this thread is going for. This is designed to actually give a critique or review of a program from the perspective of HST. As Jules did w/ the DC post, we learn from the compare/contrast just how valid or invalid the method is.
Max-OT Introduction

At heart, Max-OT is really just a unpretentious hypertrophy-oriented program whose ideas bears some resemblance to HIT. It doesn't claim to be highly "advanced", innovative, or complex; in fact, its simplicity probably is its main selling point. The manual to it is good especially for those moving toward intermediate-level training, as it reiterates fundamentals of exercise preparation and successful bodybuilding (compound movements, progressive overload, diet, and rest.) Below are the core principles:

[b said:
Quote[/b] ]
1. Each workout should last approximately 30 to 40 minutes.
2. Train only 1 or 2 muscle groups per workout/day.
3. Do 6 to 9 total heavy sets per muscle group.
4. Do 4 to 6 reps per set to failure.
5. Rest 2 to 3 minutes between sets. (STR)
6. Train each muscle group once every 5 to 7 days. (ITR)
7. Take a 1 week break from training every 8 to 10 weeks.

HIT-esque, Progressive overload, and Rest

Max-OT most resembles traditional HIT in viewing intensity less from the standpoint of % of 1RM and more from metabolic fatigue. Arguably, it has more work sets per bodypart than a traditional HIT program would, but that's not unreasonable with the old-school HIT variants I've seen.

However, what's unique is its choice of 4-6 reps over the standard recommended 8-12 reps. It should be strongly emphasized that Max-OT's reasoning for the 4-6 rep range is not oriented toward the relationship between extremely heavy weights and hypertrophy. In fact, on a per session basis, it reasons that it's probably the metabolic processes from an extremely intense (i.e. metabolic fatigue) set that kicks off all of the responses leading to hypertrophy. Again, this would fit in with HIT philosophy.

But -- and here is the twist -- the program also acknowledges that it's really load progression, not rep progression, that ultimately signals an increase in muscle. There's an emphasis on double progression, but here they clearly emphasize load over reps. In other words, you want to jump through as few hoops (going from low to high of a given rep range) as possible to get to your new load. Ergo, why they recommend 4-6 (just 2 reps to jump to the next load) reps over 8-12 reps. They do make certain exceptions for notoriously slow-twitch areas such as calves and abs.

The total volume and muscle group recommendations are more or less guidelines to fit under the 30-40 minute mark. That 30-40 minute mark is likely abstracted from old-school studies showing cortisol levels signicantly rising above the 45 minute mark. Practically speaking, I think most Max-OT trainees will be in the 40-60 minute mark unless their gym is relatively sparse. They also point out studies regarding GH release and metabolic work.

Its recovery principles pretty much fit in with HIT too, but here they're splitting it down to 4 different contexts. Most of you HITers and periodization folks will immediately pick up the different contexts in nonspecific terms. There is . . .

[b said:
Quote[/b] ]
1. Short Term Recuperation (STR) - Between sets.
2. Intermediate Term Recuperation (ITR) - Between workouts.
3. Muscle Specific Recuperation (MSR) - Between identical workouts.
4. Cyclical Recuperation (CR) - Between Max-OT Training cycles.

Where it significantly deviates from HIT is its strong stance against slow reps, machines, and most isolation movements. This is a exposive, mostly free-weight advice and it poos poos any curls, extensions, cable crossovers, etc.


Max-OT is also distinguished by its more granular approach to splits, a 5-way version no less. This is a really hardcore interpretation of Splits; you get the total volume down in order to prevent elevated levels of cortisol, but you torch the area with a lo of heavy sets.

A typical schedule would go
Monday -- Legs
Tuesday -- Chest / Abs
Wednesday -- Back (including deadlifts)
Thursday -- Delts / Triceps
Friday -- Biceps/Abs

Or . . .
Monday -- Back / Biceps
Tuesday -- Legs
Wednesday -- Chest
Thursday -- Shoulders/Triceps
Friday -- Triceps/Forearms/Abs

You can get creative with the split. After 8 weeks or so, you take a week off, then change your routine up again.


It really depends on how you organize your split. There's enough of an overlapping effect that most bodyparts will get hit 2-3x-a-week , which puts it behind a typical HST program. The manual doesn't really acknowledge the overlapping effect exercises have with each other, and so the typical Max-OT trainee will not be informed that, quite obviously, the triceps press (arm day) is just as good a pec exercise as the bench press, or that the deadlifts will hit the legs.

This is problematic on two fronts. First, most trainees working on this split may not know how to redistribute the fatigue of multiple failure sets with the arms. They may do Chest on Monday, Delts/Triceps on Tuesday, and wonder why they can't make strength gains in terms of progressive load. Secondly, by merely switching around which days to do what, they'll have a unpredictable situation with net protein synthesis overlap. That is, if they work Chest on Monday, then arms on Tuesday, you'll get 60 hours of elevated synthesis for the upper torso. But if you did arms on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, you'll get 72 hours. Over the period of 8 weeks, the difference is 4 days of productive growth.

On average, over an eight week period, you'll have about 24 days of elevated protein synthesis for a bodypart with Max-OT. On HST, you'll have 32 days of elevated synthesis.

Absolute and Progressive Load

This is perhaps Max-OT's strongest point. Because you're starting at around 80-85% of 1RM, the effect of RBE will take longer than on HST. Moreover, because you're working through a 4-6 rep range, you can probably increase poundages every week or every other week with 5-10% increments. You don't have to worry about metabolic fatigue. Because you're training explosively, the TUL is too short for high neural drive or rate coding (i.e. the total effect of failure) to be as pronounced as it should be. You should be able to make strength gains fairly quickly and from that, continue to stay ahead of RBE. Through the first month or so, Max-OT's efficacy with stimulating sarcomere hypertrophy should be pretty high. Note: if Max-OT used a 8-12 rep scheme, where you would have to jump through the 40-60 second TUL hoop, just to put more weight, there would be no way to progressively load quick enough to match HST. DC's training program sidesteps this caveat by saying you should try increasing weight every week anyway, THEN matching the reps of last week.

This also highlights the counterbalancing between the effects of absolute load and pregressive load. Because its load starts higher than HST and stays farther ahead of the RBE curve initially, the first 2-3 weeks will certainly generate faster gains than the first 2-3 weeks of HST. However, because HST is more rigorous in its progression of loads, the 5s and post-5s of HST may generate faster gains, even though the absolute loads you use with Max-OT may be relatively higher still. That being said, if you stay at your 5RM through post-5s, then progressive load is a wash here too. Again, HST will still have the advantage because you're training more frequenty (and the application of strain on the muscle will be uneven with Max-OT's split regimen) . . . but the difference will not be as marked as it should be. You have a classic situation of the tortoise and hare. In HST, gains should speed up as you approach the end of the cycle. In Max-OT, gains slow down as you approach the end of the cycle, even if you made strength gains every week.

Metabolic Stress and Injury Prevention

Max-OT has a slight edge per session. Even though the sets are short, you'll be hitting 6-9 sets per group. That's enough volume to create a moderate MAPKerk1/2 signal, albeit far less than DC's training would. That being said, HST's combination of higher frequency and 10/15-rep protocols puts it at a slight edge over Max-OT over the 8 week period. Its carb and metabolic requirements are less than HST, though, making it easier to prepare a diet.

Max-OT has a complete absence of any high-rep connective tissue remodeling scheme. Even DC's program has built-in mechanisms to keep joint pain down. Given Max-OT's preference for heavy training, this could be a serious problem. I strongly recommend adding in a week of high-rep training before you start the 8-week period in order to protect yourself from this.

Strength Gains and Fatigue

Max-OT is better than HST and DC at this. And this is why some people prefer Max-OT over HST. That being said, HST does a better job at managing fatigue and systemic resources. Because your total # of sets will be modest and you're not training to failure, you avoid the overtraining symptoms that Max-OT purports to solve. However, at the same time, you won't enjoy the immediate strength gains (many of which, are adaptations to the fatigue), that you see on Max-OT.


1) Frequency: HST > > Max-OT
2) Absolute Load: HST < Max-OT
3) Progressive Load: HST > Max-OT
4) Sarcomere hypertrophy (First 2-3 weeks): HST < Max-OT
5) Sarcomere hypertrophy (5s/Post-5s): HST > Max-OT
6) Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy/Nutrient-Usage: HST > Max-OT
7) Fatigue management / Cycle extensibility: HST > MAX-OT

*not related to growth*
8) Strength gains: HST < < Max-OT
9) Safety: HST > > Max-OT

When it comes strictly to muscle growth, traditional HST is better than Max-OT on 5 out of 7 important fronts.

However, the difference in gains between the two may not be as appreciable. The key thing to note with Max-OT is whether your gains slow down as you progress in the cycle. This can be easily dealt with by simply incrementing the loads week-to-week, and hopefully you've gained enough mass from the previous week to make the 4-rep minimum. By doing this strategy and using the 2-week "advantage" over RBE you get from using a 5RM load, you can generate results with Max-OT that can get close to intro-level HST. Plus, you get the strength gains.

For some people, Max-OT may be a more desirable program than HST. However, watch your joints. :)

Vicious, you stated that there is some reasoning for using higher protein than 1g/lb with DC training because it does make use of it, for reasons that i don't understand.

None the less, AST also suggests very high protein amounts while using Max-OT. Is this warranted? Or are they just trying to sell products here. =)
AST's reasoning is different. They're just recommending more or less a low-to-medium carb diet, which would default to 2-3g/lbs for most people. The combination of splits, 20-30 second TUL, and no cardio means that you won't be depleting glycogen stores as quickly. That being said, a person really needs to do a mild carb refeed during the weekend. This will do wonders for combating the failure training.

DC's reasoning, which pretty much fits with mine, is to not derive your diet from a macronutrient ratio of the total caloric intake. Rather, you "default" to a protein/BW ratio (2g/lbs just seems like a safe ratio ;) ), then let volume and TUL dictate your post-WO and daily carb intake. Having done both, then you push up your caloric intake, if need be, with fat. If gains stagnate, add in more protein (which will add more fat as well.) If fatigue increases, add in more carbs.

Okay, next section will be a 3-part overview of the "Cluster HST" variant over at this German site:

There's also a chart there to give you an example of how Cluster HST may look.

I went ahead and did translations (with help of Google) of the main articles.  I think at least 75% of the information is conveyed here.  There's also an interesting marraige of POF and HST, which I hope to show later too.
I'm wary of doing a proper review since this is still relatively new to most of us English speaking punters.  From the outset, it looks pretty good, albeit a bit high and long in the rep recommendations for my taste.  And I'd probably make different recommendations over its use of load stretches.  Other than that, this is an impressive piece of work.

Plus I think this is a useful demonstration of "multi-phasic" progressive load as well as a structure approach to fatigue management.

Finally, many thanks to Hannesburke for helping me out with the translations and such. And many apologies to our German readers if I'm misrepresenting anything. Please don't impale me, mm kay?

Cluster HST

originally authored in German by Complement. Translated without permission by me. Uhm, sorry?

Classic HST was conceived to create for the broad masses an accessible application of HST and its principles. Cluster HST continues to apply the physiological and practical basic principles consistently, though losing for it a little comprehensibility. First things first . . .

What now is cluster HST?

Sets and repetitions are viewed here exactly for what they are: a means to an end. There is no more fixed number of sets and also no fixed repetition numbers, which departing from the style of classical HST, is completely in accordance with the below guideline:

"HST is essentially about sets and reps [..]"

This variant of HST drives as high a volume under demands of the CNS as possible (no muscle failure!) while adhering to progressive load. Training is divided into so-called clusters: Clusters are made of a minimum number of reps (for example, 5 reps, 3 reps, or only one), which are then accordingly repeated again and again. Therefore, the one and only apparent variable is total volume, both within a training session and over one week. The degree of individual cluster (# of reps) is higher at the beginning of the training than at the end of the cycle, since one constantly increases the weight (e.g. at the beginning 5 reps/cluster, at the end 1 reps/cluster). The heavier the weight, the smaller the cluster; however, the cluster are repeated more frequently to reach around the total volume desired

Cluster HST also deviates from classic HST in regards to the topic of total volume. The first decision to make is whether to progressively increase the volume, or stay with a fixed total repetition number. One can increase this volume up to the end of the cycle, or can increase the volume up to a fixed repetition number. The second decision concerns the total volume, thus how many repetitions per training session to complete. Since training is quite undemanding at the beginning (low weight), it’s tempting to increase the volume now drastically. That proves to be a mistake, however, toward the total cycle’s end. If one approaches the maximum weight for 1 or 5 reps and must complete the weight 80x, not even the smallest cluster will work. Pushing one’s borders is naturally dependent on individual training and load tolerance. Fortunately, as mentioned above, cluster HST has no rigid patterns; one can also still change the training if one already started. However, one should always consider this principle: backward steps do not conform to HST, neither in the load nor in the repetitions, although load is more important than volume. Thus, reduce the volume if necessary, not the load.

In conclusion, the following constitutes cluster HST:

"no rigid pattern with sets and repetitions”

"organization of training into clusters”

"progressive adjustment of the cluster to the work weight in order to avoid muscle failure. The heavier the weight, the smaller the cluster.”

"only the total repetitions are important, not the way there.”

"one progresses in either total volume or weight. for total volume, increase in the course of the cycle progressively or specify a fixed repetition number. combinations of weight and volume increases are possible. if a weight cannot be moved according to the planned volume, one lowers the volume, never the weight.”
Cluster HST -- Cycle Planning (2 of 3)

originally authored in German by Complement. Translated without permission by me. Uhm, sorry?

Planning a cluster HST cycle is somewhat more complicated due to the lack of a fixed rep pattern. This chapter must probably be read several times in order to understand all of the information. However, if one understands the principles behind HST, one can plan and adapt to this training instinctively. Similar to classical HST, one determines before the SD the 5RM for each planned exercise of the next cycle. If one is capable of accurately performing his 1RM, he can use this as basis for the calculations. Nevertheless, if one feels he has grown significantly through a cycle, one can adjust the sessions for higher weight at the end of the planned cycle anyway. Having selected a maximum weight of 5RM, the starting weight for the cycle amounts to approx. 60% of the selected maximum weight (for greater than 3 weeks of SD, one can begin as low as 50%). I recommend that the maximum weight be the 5RM for HST beginners in order to become acquainted with the fundamental design of the training, its difficulties and the changing of variables toward the end. Those who believe they can train up to their 1RM may use that instead.

Next, one determines the number of workouts/week. A complete body program ideally has 3 workouts/week as an absolute minimum; 4-6 sessions/week would be better. If one likes to use a split, one should train 6 workout/week at least, in order to attack each muscle 3x. The degree can be increased as long as one avoids training to failure.

Now the volume comes. It is heavily stressed here that the general recommendations are, at best, still "trial and error". Approximately, one would aim for about 30-50 total repetitions. One may not be nonplussed by the recovery needs of those first sessions, but training becomes hard, very hard toward the end. If it is absolutely necessary (e.g. for problems with joints or general volume), one can reduce the volume toward the end of the cycle when one comes closer to the maximum weight of 5RM or 1RM.

The next issue is increasing the weight. Since training isn't very demanding at the beginning, one should frequently increment the weight - until about 80-85% of the maximum weight for 5 WH - then use each weight for a somewhat longer time. When one reaches 80-85%, one can use the rule of thumb of once per week for each weight increase. In principle, the total cycle length should amount to about 6 weeks, whereby one may then insert negative movements with very high weights at the end. Thus, one must adapt the weight in such a way that one achieves progressive load over these 6 weeks. It's important to consider that with heavy exercises such as cross lifting and knee bends, the increments (weight increases) may amount to, for instance, 10kg or so, but certain weights may be increased not as much (if the respective maximum weight is relatively small, one would use increment of 7.5-10% of the maximum weight). I.e. one stays a few training days with the same weight and increases then in a larger step. In the meantime one can insert variants such as Loaded Stretching or Drop/Strip sets. Also, the progressive increase of volume offers another variant to bridge the stagnation in the weight. One can arrange these increments for more than 10kg, which is more effective as well. However, the problem stands before them of a cycle lasting only briefly, forcing one to go into deconditioning. The same principle applies: everyone must find the optimal compromise for himself. With smaller groups of muscles, the increments are smaller; however the increase should never fall below 5%

Now, a few words to the exercise selection. As already mentioned above, above all else, use cluster training with relatively few basic exercises. There should be more than four exercises, otherwise the training load and training time with appropriate volume and weight toward end of the cycle will rise alarmingly.

Finally, there are still some practical aspects as yet unconsidered. The question is: you may plan beautifully and all, but can the whole routine be accomplished in the gym at all? With cluster HST, one rotates superset-style from one exercise to the next; for example, 3 reps cross lifting, 3 reps bank pressures etc.. I.e. all of these stations must be reserved until the entire training is finished, which can drag on for 1-2 hours. The more exercises one adds into the plan, the machines must be reserved, and time runs on, the more one risks offending the manager or other trainees. In order to get this problem out of the way, one can arrange the plan into blocks of two exercises, terminate and then begin the next block. Then, one must only reserve two stations at a time. Of course, one can individually complete each exercise one at a time. It's a given that this circuit training style may seem unusual, however he saves enormous amount of time.

In summary, the most important principles:

starting weight: 60% of the maximum weight for 5RM (if possible, 1RM).

frequency: At least 3x/week the same muscle train (which increases the minimum number of workouts with a split to 6, the more the better)

volume: Approximately 30-50 total repetitions per exercise each session

weight increase: With large muscles, 10kg of increments, with small muscles 5kg. Weight at the beginning increases relatively rapidly. As one increases to 80-85% (within 2-3 weeks), a heavy weight is used for a longer period of time.

total cycle length: 6 weeks plus possible eccentric training

exercise selection: 3-4 basic exercises

practical aspects: Possibly divide the exercises into blocks as to avoid having to reserve too many stations at the same time.
Cluster HST Metabolic Pathway (3 of 3)

originally authored in German by Complement. Translated without permission by me. Uhm, sorry?

The following information is not absolutely necessary, in order to plan your first cluster HST cycle. Rather the Introduction as well as the Cycle- planning are sufficient. For those who want to optimize their cycle, the following is recommended reading:

As mentioned in the Introduction, one trains several sessions with the same weight, in order not to have to go into deconditioning after three weeks of training. In order to manage as effective a workout as possible, one additionally simulates the metabolic pathways. And now Loaded Stretching and Drop/Strip Sets come into the play!

LOADED STRETCHING one can describe as stretching with weight. One - to stretch for example around the chest - take the fly and go into the same starting position but with no movement upward. One would stay, then, at 15-30 seconds. But caution: LS conditions the muscle and builds RBE! I.e. if one wants to add LS into its plan, one must consider the role of progressive load and determine the maximum weight for 5RM also for those exercises for the LS. Then one increases the weights of the LS exercise concurrently with the main exercise of that muscle (thus e.g. bench press as main exercise and flying as LS exercise).

One need not add Loaded Stretching from the beginning of the cycle (since the weight goes upward quickly at the beginning anyway.) It is more meaningful when used as a variant at the point in the cycle when one works longer with the heavier weights. Assuming one has 5 sessions for the bench press with the same weight, this load for the first 2-3 workouts is very effective anyway and requires no additional load. But, in the 4th and 5th workout, the muscle has already adapted partly to this weight. Starting from here, adding LS and Drop/Strip Set is a meaningful addition until the weight is again increased.

Example of equivalent weight increase with the LS:
The main exercise for the chest is bench press (5RM= 100kg). In this case, the LS are flyes and the weight should be adjusted in proportion to the progression of the main movement (Maximal /5WH = 20kg). Planning the usage of LS, starting from 80% of the 5RM, during the 4th and 5th workout with the same weight. As this training week looks now:

Width unit 1: Bench with 80kg (= 80% of 100kg)
Width unit 2: Bench with 80kg
Width unit 3: Bench with 80kg
Width unit 4: Bench with 80kg + LS: Fly with 16kg (= 80% of 20kg)
Width unit 5: Bench with 80kg + LS: Fly with 16kg
Width unit 6: Bench with 90kg

STRIP SETS are nothing but reduction sets or drop sets. One drops the weight without rest in small steps in order to get maximum metabolic load. It is important here that one does not go up to training failure. Furthermore, one must note that the repetitions, which one makes in the context of a strip set, are not counted in the regular total volume. In each case, the Strip set is added after the last cluster. Only one strip set is performed.
With this cluster training am i to understand there are no intial rep ranges to focus on? u just go just short of positive failure, and reach 30-50 reps each exercise??

for example...

Bench press you 1RM is 250 lbs

you may start with say 60% of that and use 150 for ur first w/o say you onyl hit 15 or even 17 the first set then you just continue until you reach 30-50 reps?

would you then increase the weight every few workouts until you come close to your 5 RM and then SD and start over... total process taking approx. 6-8 weeks?

with no guided rep count to hit ??
[b said:
Quote[/b] ]would you then increase the weight every few workouts until you come close to your 5 RM and then SD and start over... total process taking approx. 6-8 weeks?

with no guided rep count to hit ??

Yup, that's the idea.

The writeup on DC looks pretty good. Although I think that the frequency for each bodypart is a little less than 2x a week. I think it's 3 times every 2 weeks. All of the DC information was erased from his site though, so I can't be 100% sure.
Do a search on the member Kate (fine lady and knowledgable), she used to post a bit and espoused/experimented with DHST or as some called it DOMS HST.
Vicious, it would be awesome if you'd review Bill Starr's 5x5 Routine. I'll post a link to a huge thread over on EliteFitness that encompasses everything on the routine. I'd love to see what you have to say about the program, especially since all the empirical evidence points to it being awesome for both strength and size, not to mention explosiveness (an athlete's dream) if you choose to incorporate the olympic lifts.

Can't wait to see your response.
I'm doing it. It works. My strength has been flying. Combine that with over-eating, and you get bigger.
I'm doing it too. Been for seven weeks, my second cycle now. I know it works. I'd just like to see a comparison done with HST, especially when it's someone like vicious doing it - the guy knows his stuff.

What does your setup look like, Bosox? There are many variations of the 5x5 routine.