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Hypertrophy Cluster Training (HCT-12) - FAQ
We’ve tried to make Hypertrophy Cluster Training as straight forward and as easy to understand as possible.
However there are bound to be a few questions that crop up, so we have put together answers to some of the questions we anticipate will be asked.
Many of these questions came from our test group who were introduced to Hypertrophy Cluster Training 10 weeks before public release so they should be a good indiciation of the types of questions that will be asked.
We’ll continue to update this FAQ as we receive new questions.
What does HCT-12 stand for?
Q. Why did you call the program ‘Hypertrophy Cluster Training’ and whats the HCT-12 about?
A. HCT-12 is an abbreviated name for the program and is stands for Hypertrophy Cluster Training 12. These days, you have to have the word ‘hypertrophy’ in there! The cluster refers to the rest-pause variation involved, ‘training’ is self explanatory and the 12 refers to the total number of reps in the last work set. And there you go – Hypertrophy Cluster Training (HCT-12)
Falling short of the 6 reps in your work set
Q. If during a set ramp-up you miss the six reps in your last work set, do you drop down to the previous work set and then begin the 6+2+2+2 scenario? For example, if I didn’t hit six reps in my last work set of 350 pounds, would I drop to say, 340 pounds and start 6+2+2+2?
A. That is absolutely correct, the idea is to complete all the reps as prescribed. Overestimating how heavy you can go will occasionally happen, don’t make it worse by grinding out the clusters. You will get the weight next time and you’ll also have the psychological edge of knowing you aced 340 pounds last time.
Hitting 6+2+2+2 more easily than I thought
Q. What if my 6+2+2+2 was easier than I thought and I felt like I had a couple of reps left in the tank? Should I do another +2 on the end of another set or perhaps just wait till next week?
A. Chalk it up to experience. It isn’t a wasted effort. There will be a training effect. There will also be a psychological effect you can use next time in the gym. You know you had reps in the tank last time.
Making changes to the training splits
Q. I plan on doing the 4-day routine. Can I do Mon/Tues, Thurs/Fri or does that leave too many rest days over the weekend? Also, should ‘A1’ and ‘A2’ have the same exercises or should each one have its own blend?
A. Keeping it to weekdays is fine. A1 and A2 don’t necessarily have to have the same exercises, but I suggest initially seeing how you get on with keeping them the same. The fewer variables you need to keep track of the better.
However, it is your routine. We have given you the outline and the plan to follow. It is up to you to make it work best for you. If you want different variations of the same movement, go for it. I have no issues with using a variation on a theme. A dumbbell bench and a Hammer Strength bench are both going to work the horizontal pressing muscles after all, which is all you’re really after.
This is also worth remembering if you train in a busy gym — sometimes the equipment you plan on using is not available so find a variation of the exercise on a station that is free.
Q. Can I hit my weaker lifts first?
A. As stated in the article, the choice of exercise order is yours based on your preferences and strengths/ weaknesses. If you would rather do vertical pressing before horizontal, then go for it.
What if I don’t have a spotter?
Q. I train alone and it’s not always easy for me to find a spotter and it seems to me that this could cause a problem with the 6+2+2+2 protocol?
A. This should only be a problem on horizontal pressing movements, in particular the bench press. Either use a bench or rack with adjustable pins or ask for a spot. If you train alone without access to help or equipment that allows you to bench safely, then I cannot recommend that you bench with a bar at all. I suggest using dumbbells instead. This can be a nuisance due to the clusters. You will be fatigued so getting the dumbbells up again will be a pain. Look into Dumbbell Power Hooks.
Switching between the 3 programs
Q. Can I switch between the programs 1, 2 and 3 and if so, how often?
A. You can – but I’d have to ask why? Unless you completely misjudged your schedule or simply can’t tolerate the density of work in an upper/lower split, then there’s no reason to switch. There is enough variation available to you within each program – autoregulation, exercise selection, exercise order, a deload week every fifth or sixth week – and so many similarities between them, that the only thing you’d really be changing is the days you are going to the gym. Adjusting too many variables does not keep your body guessing. It just keeps you spinning your wheels.
Discuss, comment or ask a question
If you have a comment, question about this article or would like to discuss or ask anything about Hypertrophy Cluster Training (HCT-12), head on over to the Hypertrophy Cluster Training (HCT-12) Forum.
You may also want to read Hypertrophy Cluster Training (HCT-12) - FAQ.