Cluster Cycles RULE!

I recently mentioned that we’re doing Adonis Index Cluster Cycles. This program is designed to help you increase how much  you can lift in certain major lifts. Two weeks into the program, we’ve already witnessed incredible results!

Naomi RULES Squats!

Naomi and Al cranking out squats in Cluster Cycles workout

Week 1: Bench Press

In the first week of the Cluster Cycles program, we both were able to increase our barbell bench press. This is not a lift I normally do as it’s not in the Venus Index program. As a woman, and as someone with some niggling shoulder issues, I am actually not going to continue to focus on increasing on this particular lift. As the program unfolds, there are many other lifts to choose from.

Week 2: Squats

We just finished the second week of Cluster Cycles, which focuses on barbell squats. Barbell, or Oly squats are another lift I have not done in over a year. The last time I did them was before Venus, when I was focusing on Turbulence Training workouts. Back then, I met with a trainer at my gym to improve my form on all the Oly lifts because I was having great fun with a TT workout that focused on those. That was humbling because he backed me up to ridiculously low weights. I’m so glad I did that because humbling or not, the injuries stopped and I was able to work my way back up on weights over the next few months. Crappy form is a formula for disaster. Thank goodness for good trainers. My gym has many and I’ve have the privilege to work with a few great ones. I recommend everyone do this periodically.

I’m happy to report that a year later, his tips stuck and I have felt more confident about my squats then ever.

Cluster Cycles are Work

The Cluster Cycles workouts are not exactly what I’d call fun. “Brutal” might be more apt.

I mention this because a lot of the Venus and Adonis workouts really are a lot of fun most of the time. The way this program works is you figure out what your estimated one rep max (e1RM) is before you even start the program and then you do a predetermined percentage, sets, reps, etc. It’s all spelled out.

Sometimes, there is a tendency for me to say I  just can’t do this. I’ve been operating under the assumption that I knew what intensity was but this has really been an eye-opener. The program says I must be able to do so much, so I’d darned well better do it, ya know?

Here’s how it’s shaking down.

Monday we do volume on the main lift so this week, squats.

Tuesday we limp out of bed, wonder what hit us, and head to the gym later to get the crap beat out of us yet again. By Tuesday night, it’s pretty hard to get up out of chairs.

Wednesday, we suffer, feel lame, and just generally think we’ll bomb on Thursday.

Thursday morning rolls around and hey, we’re not feeling so bad anymore! That night, we hit the gym hard and struggle through just 3 sets of squats, the 3rd of which resets our new e1RM higher! We feel good! We are heroes. Everything after that is gravy! We did it! High fives all around!

Friday, we are smug.

Saturday, we go in and crank out 8 long, grueling sets at a weight we’ve never before been able to complete in good form. It’s not fun but more smugness ensues, along with natural highs and bouncy walking. The rest of the workout is done in a bit of a daze and we hurry home to blog.

I know I probably sound like this about every single one of the Adonis and Venus workouts, but I am loving Cluster Cycles. No, it’s not fun. But it’s satisfying.

Things to Note about Squats

Al and I both use a slightly different stance. Both are correct. I like my feet wider. He likes his knees and toes pointing almost straight ahead.  You wanna go deep. As long as your quads are parallel to the floor, that’s low enough, but if you feel it in the glutes and hammies and want to and can safely go deeper, go deeper. The back must stay flat. How it looks and how it feels are two different things entirely. Al was squatting much more weight but has backed off  to get the form down and he’s really feeling the difference. A proper squat feels like you’re sticking your butt out and it’s going lower then the knees when it isn’t really. Do some warmup sets and check your form in a side mirror to be aware of how low you really need to go. Be sure your knees do not go too far forward. On warmup sets, I go deeper. Notice that our current weights are not OMG WOW look at that. But look at our faces. We’re working. We’e both taking a big inhalation, bracing our core, and cranking out the rep. Reset, focus again, and do the next rep. It’s very much a one rep at a time kind of workout. If you don’t have a shoe that allows you to keep your weight centered front to back on your foot, take your shoes off! My sneakers have a Vibram soul. Al’s just doing squats and deadlifts in socks for  now.

7 comments to Cluster Cycles RULE!