“DUP, say what?”
Daily Undulating Periodisation my friend. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s what all the cool gym cats are doing nowadays. Let’s take a look
DUP pretty much flies in the face of everything published in bodybuilding magazines over the last 20 to 30 years, which advise you to –
- Hit every muscle group once a week
- Go to failure on every set
- Perform a variety of exercises to hit your muscles from every angle
- Make sure you rest at least 5 days between working body parts to allow for adequate recovery
- Program almost every exercise in the hypertrophy range of 8-12 reps per set.
Conversely, DUP advocates –
- Training lifts multiple times per week
- Often training the same muscle groups and even performing the same exercises on consecutive days
- Using a limited number of exercises
- Working both maximally and sub-maximally
- Programming in periods of over-reaching
- Working in a variety of rep ranges and at varying levels of intensity
Where DUP actually stems from, I wouldn’t like to say.
Some credit the ex-Soviet Bloc weightlifters with the initial concept, where they’d work up to a relative maximum on almost every day of the week (and often twice a day) on just a few exercises, such as the Olympic lifts and their variations, plus front squats, back squats and presses.
Likewise, Charles Poliquin wrote a great deal on accumulation and intensification in the late 80s and early 90s.
More recently, guys like Mike Zourdos have been researching extensively, as the method has gained popularity in the mainstream. (See references section – 1)
The concept is actually relatively simple. If we split up DUP’s initials –
Daily – Pretty self-explanatory really
Undulating – your loads/reps/intensities and so on will undulate (vary) every session
Periodisation – You plan your training so that over time, your weights increase and you get stronger.
These videos, the first from Dr. Zourdos himself, and the second from Dr. Layne Norton both explain the theories and concepts behind DUP –
Most DUP routines involve performing just a few exercises, multiple times per week, with different rep ranges and intensities.
If you want a sample routine, just scroll on down to a little later in the article…..
In a word, yes.
While traditional hypertrophy programs rely on perceived level of intensity and a high volume per session to achieve muscle growth, DUP focuses more on total volume over a period of time.
Contrary to popular belief, volume is not simply the number of exercises, sets and reps you do each workout, it’s actually –
Total Reps x Load
This can be viewed as volume per session, per week, or even per training cycle.
Volume is perhaps the most underrated component of any muscle-building routine. To quote hypertrophy researcher Brad Schoenfeld –
“If your goal is to maximize muscle development, HIT simply doesn’t do the trick. You need a higher training volume. Substantially higher.
Whatever your target weekly volume, optimal results are achieved by taking a periodized approach where the number of sets are strategically manipulated over the course of a training cycle. Understand that repeatedly training with high volumes will inevitably lead to overtraining.
In fact, evidence shows that volume has an even greater correlation with overtraining than intensity.
Only by embracing periodization can you reap the benefits of a high training volume while avoiding the dreaded overtrained state.” (2)
With DUP, you get a much greater total weekly volume than with a typical once-a-week split. Volume plays a far greater role in hypertrophy than intensity, muscular damage or metabolic stress.
Deadlifts, squats & bench presses, cheesecake, ice cream & poptarts – pretty much the perfect recipe for gains.
Additionally, muscle protein synthesis (the rate of growth/repair in the muscle tissue) peaks at around 24 hours post-workout and is back to baseline around 36 hours after training. (3) So by training more frequently, you’re maximising your increases in MPS throughout the week – something that a bodypart split sorely misses out on.
Another key consideration is that strength is a skill.
While DUP’s incorporation of sub-maximal work may not seem particularly “hardcore” to your traditional bodybuilder, and might even come across as a waste of time (after all, no one ever built muscle using light weights, right?” it is crucially important.
Not only does this add volume without compromising recovery by leaving you in a constant state or soreness and fatigue, it helps develop optimal technique, and improves performance on your “heavy days.”
By now, you’ve got a basic overview of DUP and seen that not only CAN it work, but in many respects, it’s MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE than a typical bodybuilder-style split.
The one potential issue with DUP, is that when reading everything, it’d be easy to get carried away, try to train every single lift four, five or six times per week, get caught up in a plethora of rep ranges and loads, and end up spending more time in the gym than you do at work.
And that certainly wouldn’t constitute an “everyman” routine.
So here’s DUP, simplified. You’ll only need four sessions per week, each around 45 to 60 minutes to get maximum results in strength and size gains.
Day 1 –
|Exercise||Sets||Reps||Load in week 1 (% of 1RM)||Load in week 2||Load in Week 3|
|Back Squat||6||3||70||As week 1||As week 1|
|Deadlift||5||5||80||Week 1 + 5kg/ 10 lbs||Week 2+ 2.5kg/ 5 lbs|
|Bench Press||4||8||70||Week 1+ 2.5kg/ 5 lbs||Week 2+2.5kg/ 5 lbs|
Day 2 –
|Exercise||Sets||Reps||Load in Week 1(% of 1RM)||Load in Week 2||Load in Week 3|
|Deadlift||6||3||70||As week 1||As week 1|
|Bench Press||5||5||80||Week 1 + 5kg/ 10 lbs||Week 2+ 2.5kg/ 5 lbs|
|Squat||4||8||70||Week 1+ 2.5kg/ 5 lbs||Week 2+2.5kg/ 5 lbs|
Day 3 –
|Exercise||Sets||Reps||Load in Week 1 (% of 1RM)||Load in Week 2||Load in Week 3|
|Bench Press||6||3||70||As week 1||As week 1|
|Squat||5||5||80||Week 1 + 5kg/ 10 lbs||Week 2+ 2.5kg/ 5 lbs|
|Deadlift||4||6||75||Week 1+ 2.5kg/ 5 lbs||Week 2+2.5kg/ 5 lbs|
Day 4 –
|Chin-Ups or Pulldowns||4||6-8||8|
- Each of the three main days is set up with a power-based exercise first, using a moderate weight, for a low number of reps, high number of sets, with the intention on generating maximum force and using perfect technique.
- The second exercise is a strength-based one.
- The third exercise is a hypertrophy-based one. Deadlifts have a slightly higher load, with lower reps than squats or bench presses here, as I’ve found this to work better in terms of maintaining technique and getting stronger.
- For the loading, take a conservative estimate of your one rep max (or use your gym-based maximum if you know it) then take 10% away from this to use for your max in this program. Remember, you’re far better off going a little too light and adjusting later down the line than starting too heavy and failing reps.
- Additionally, you’ll notice that in weeks 2 and 3 of the program, you’re increasing your weights. As these can be quite large jumps (5kg / 10lbs) in some cases, it’s imperative that week 1 not be too demanding.
- The accessory session’s intensity is measured via RPE, or Rate of Perceived Exertion. To use the guidelines from my “Busy Guy’s Bulking Routine” –
RPE 10 = All out maximum effort – this was a seriously tough rep and you had to grind through it.
RPE 9.5 = Still really tough, but the form was good and smooth.
RPE 9 = You had 1 more rep left in the tank.
RPE 8 = 2 more reps in the tank
RPE 7 = 3 more reps left
- On the accessory days, you can increase weights/ reps week on week, but they shouldn’t be an all-out effort. You’ll stimulate enough hypertrophy working slightly below muscular failure with these RPEs. Going at maximum intensity may well impede your performance in the three main sessions.
The program is set up for a 3-week cycle.
Week 1 will be fairly straightforward. Week 2 slightly more challenging, and week 3 pretty full-on.
Take a deload in week 4.
For a guide on deloading, see here – http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/deloading-101-what-is-a-deload-and-how-do-you-do-it
You will then run the program again, but adding weight to your maxes. How much you add depends entirely on how you found the first 3-week cycle –
- Cake walk? Did you smoke every lift and feel the program was too easy? Add 10kg to your squat and deadlift max and 5kg to your bench press. (20 and 10 lbs respectively.)
- Completed it, but hard going? Add 5kg to your squat/dead and 2.5kg to your bench. (10 and 5 lbs)
- Only just about got through the prescribed sets and reps in week 3, or potentially even failed the odd lift – keep your weights the same for the next round.
- Fail anything in week 1 or week 2? Then reduce your maxes by 5-10kg for squats and deads and 2.5-5kg for bench presses.
Go through the whole cycle a second time, take another deload, then reassess again, using the same guidelines as above. After a third cycle, you’re ready to test your maxes.
Set aside a day later in the week (Friday or Saturday works well) for a max testing session – a mock meet if you will.
On the Monday or Tuesday, go in and hit 3 sets of 3 reps of squat, bench and deadlift at 70% the weight you were using for your training max throughout cycle 3.
On Wednesday, work up to a single at 80% of your training max on each of the three exercises.
Then, on test day, run it exactly like a powerlifting meet.
Pick your opening weight for each exercise, based off how you feel your last cycle went.
After a warm up for your squat, take a bash at that opening weight. All being well, you’ll get it fairly easily – maybe an 8 out of 10 for effort. Have 5 to 10 minutes, load up some more weight and go again.
Your second attempt should be somewhere near your previous 1RM. You’ll get this too, but it’ll be tougher than your opener – perhaps a 9 or 9.5 effort.
Finally, it’s time to shoot for a new 1RM, so stick some more weight on that bar, and give it your all.
Repeat this for your bench press and deadlift.
Use your max testing day to decide how well DUP worked for you…..
Smash your previous PBs? Look bigger? Then clearly, it suits you down to the ground.
Get weaker and smaller?
Not going to happen. Well, it might, if you were eating like a sparrow, or following a Tracy Anderson diet, so rather than abandoning DUP, I’d look at your nutrition first. With proper nutrition (as detailed in my bulking diet article below) you will gain size and strength with this style of training.
Do pretty well – maybe a new PB on 2 out of 3 lifts, but you struggled with the third? Or perhaps your strength shot up, but you feel like you’ve not gained a lot in terms of arm size, back thickness, or so on?
This is good. It shows you’re evaluating your training closely, and means you can make tweaks to the program going forward.
You don’t have to stick to this protocol exactly. If you found your bench went down, perhaps you need to bench more frequently.
Or less frequently.
Or you need more auxiliary triceps work.
Or you need to use a higher percentage of your one-rep max.
All of these could be factors, but the key is to assess everything closely, and make sensible decisions as to how you need to modify the routine for you going forward.
Likewise, there’s no reason why you can’t perform a second accessory day each week, throw in rows and overhead presses on one of the main days, hit your calves every session if they’re stubborn bastards, or even sub in front squats for back squats if you’re not a competing powerlifter.
The above routine will work amazingly well, and you can expect some serious gains in strength and size, but DUP is not a fixed system. It’s simply a method that you can apply to your routine, and which for most people is far more suitable than a typical bodybuilder split, or a linear full body program.
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