Daily Undulating Periodization, known in the lifting game simply as DUP, has made a huge splash in the fitness community in recent years.
Everywhere you look you see more and more people talking about this infamous program called “DUP”. All the strong kids seem to be doing it, which begs the question, is the hype real?
WTF Is DUP
Although I’m not sure where or when the concepts of DUP surfaced, non-linear periodization has been well supported at least scientifically for quite awhile. Daily Undulating Periodization sounds very technical and confusing, but in reality DUP is actually a pretty simple concept.
Daily Undulating Periodization is exactly what it sounds like.
Let’s break it down:
Daily: Days of the week.
Undulating: Undulation simply means a flowing motion, up and down in a wave like pattern. In reference to training it means sets and reps progressing in a non-linear fashion.
Periodization: In layman terms, periodization is just a way of organizing your training. Periodization is having a training plan that goes beyond one week.
Linear vs. Non-linear Periodization
To really understand DUP and why it is so effective, we need to go over the difference between linear and non-linear periodization.
Linear Periodization is the most basic form of periodization. When you think of the classic example of progressive overload, what you are thinking of is linear periodization.
Every good training program will include some form of linear progressions. It just comes down to how much.
The typical linear set up starts out with high volume and low intensity. As you progress through training phases the volume decreases, and the intensity increases. The rep ranges will decrease as the week’s progress.
Weeks 1-4 (Hypertrophy)
4 sets of 10 @ 60%
Weeks 4-8 (Strength)
4 sets of 5 @ 75%
With this style of training everything is broken down into phases that focus specifically on one thing - hypertrophy, strength, power, etc.
The downside of this style is detraining can occur outside of the specific adaptation you are focusing on. So you build muscle in the hypertrophy phase but lose those gains during the strength phase and vice versa.
So what’s the alternative?
Non-Linear Periodization hits multiple training adaptations throughout a training cycle or training week as it is with Daily Undulating Periodization.
With DUP you change the volume and intensity from day to day, in an undulating pattern. This allows you to hit hypertrophy, strength, muscular endurance, or any other quality all in one training week.
The benefit to doing this is preventing the detraining effect of linear periodization. With DUP there is a lot of variability. Whatever you want to get better at, you are able to work towards it every week.
An example of a training week might look like this:
Day 1: Hypertrophy - 4 sets of 10 @ 60%
Day 2: Strength – 4 sets of 5 @ 75%
Day 3: Muscular Endurance - 3 sets of 15 @ 50%
This is just one example but honestly the options are endless. Personally, I like to combine linear periodization with DUP to create the ultimate program…more on this later.
Increased Training Frequency
DUP goes against a lot of what you have been taught your entire training life.
With DUP, you are no longer going to be hitting each muscle group once a week. One of the main features of a DUP style program is a high frequency approach; especially with the big compound movements.
There are a lot of benefits of increase training frequency. For one, you get increased motor learning capabilities with more frequent exposure to the lifts. Lifting is a skill, and like any skill you get better at it with more practice. Getting better at the lifts allows you to dial in your form and become more efficient with the movement patterns. As your form gets better and more efficient it becomes easier to make progress.
Another benefit is the more often you stimulate a training response (through muscular contractions), the more often you create an anabolic response and boost protein synthesis. It makes sense that the more often you can create a training response the better off you are going to be.
Focus on the BIG Lifts
What is the best exercise to perform in the gym?
The Squat? How about the Deadlift? Maybe a bodyweight exercise such as the Pull-up?
I know that is a loaded question and hard to answer. There are a lot of “best” exercises depending on the specific goal of an individual, but I can guarantee seated calf raises or leg extensions didn’t immediately come to mind. That is because deep down we know there are certain exercises that just work better than others.
We know squats are “better” than leg extensions when it comes to building muscle and strength. If we know this, why is it that so many people spend the same amount of time each week (sets x reps) on squats as leg extensions?
DUP programs focus on the main lifts and fills in the cracks with a few select assistance movements.
You don’t need to hit your quad from 10 different angles for it to get bigger and stronger.
Can DUP Work for Bodybuilding?
In one word…absolutely. In fact, if you look at Arnold’s training programs from the 1970’s they look a lot like a DUP set up. He trained each body part 2-3 times per week, focusing on the main lifts – bench press, back squat, front squat, deadlifts, overhead presses, etc.
Arnold Schwarzenegger 1970’s Bodybuilding Routine:
Day 1: Chest, Back and Legs
Day 2: Shoulders and Arms
Day 3: Chest, Back and Legs
Day 4: Shoulders and Arms
Day 5: Chest, Back and Legs
Day 6: Shoulders and Arms
Day 7: Rest
Mind you this was only one of his routines. In his book, Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, he also outlined a bunch of other high frequency routines.
The goal of bodybuilding is to build muscle. One of the main drivers of muscle growth is volume. The high frequency set up of a DUP program is high volume in nature.
To put more emphasis on bodybuilding/hypertrophy you would just spend extra time in “hypertrophy” range and percentages.
For bodybuilding emphasis you might rotate 4 sets of 12, 4 sets of 8 and 4 sets of 6 or something of that effect.
How I Use DUP
I, myself, am a powerlifter. My goal is to be as strong as possible. However, with that being said I want to look the part as well. I mean, what good is being strong if you don’t even look like you lift?
So to accomplish this, I like to program a mix of strength and hypertrophy training. What this boils down to is a nice blend of linear periodization and DUP.
Since style of program worked so well for me, I decided to put it into an e-book for others to benefit from as well.
About The Author
Kyle Hunt is the owner of Hunt Fitness, a highly sought after online strength and conditioning/nutritional consulting business. He specializes in custom nutrition and workout programs designed around the individual’s goals. He also offers contest prep coaching for physique athletes.