The DUP Bible

DUP, or Daily Undulating Periodization, is the new cool kid on the lifting block.
It also flies in the face of everything you thought you knew about lifting.

For decades upon decades, lifters have been worried about over-training.

Men of muscle and might, who can bench press small bears and lift up cars, virtually mess themselves at the thought of training a muscle group more than once a week.

So why is squatting, deadlifting, and benching, two to four times per week now making headway in the world of powerlifting and bodybuilding?

“Sorry bro, I can’t train legs again this week – I already hit them on Monday.”

Sound familiar?

You make your way to the gym, ready to train with your buddy, squat shoes in hand and start heading over to the rack, only to have him lay this on you.

Exasperated, you ask him what he’s got on the cards – chest.

Nope, that doesn’t work for you since you did 32 sets for your pecs just two days ago. Training them again so soon would be over-training. The muscle fibers aren’t fully recovered, so more damage would be no good whatsoever and you’d lose your gains.

Or would you …….

Maximizing MPS

There are a number of reasons why. actually, hitting a muscle more frequently is far more beneficial than only working it once a week.

First up, we have muscle protein synthesis.

Muscle protein synthesis (or MPS) refers to the uptake of protein, growth, and the rebuilding phase in muscle cells. To get bigger and get stronger, you want frequent peaks of MPS.

Here’s what happens to MPS when you train –

  •      4 hours post-workout, MPS is elevated by 50%
  •     24 hours post-workout, MPS is elevated by 109%

It stays at this rate for only a short period of time, returning to a mere 14% elevation at 36 hours post-workout, before going back to baseline. (1)

MPS is not the only factor needed for growth, but it is a key driver in hypertrophy. This means that by waiting so long between training muscle groups, you’re leaving a hell of a lot of MPS elevation potential on the table.

By leaving up to seven days from one training session to the next, MPS is sitting at its normal, not particularly anabolic level for almost six whole days.

daily undulating periodization

Maximizing MPS is the key to muscle growth. Photo courtesy of Precision Nutrition.

To Squat a Lot, You Must Squat a Lot

If you’re familiar with the work of kettlebell guru Pavel Tsatsouline, you’ll know that one of his big ideas is that to get proficient in an exercise, you must train it frequently.

This is known as “greasing the groove”, and is often applied to bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, and single-leg squats.

The premise is that you perform your chosen exercise(s) frequently, but never work to the point of exhaustion.

Your muscles and nervous system learn the movement much more efficiently, and your performance increases rapidly, due to the frequent stimulus. Let’s take a look at an example –

Exercise: Pull-ups

Current maximum reps: 10

Let us say that you’ve been stuck on 10 pull-ups for what seems like an age.

Try as you might, and no matter what program you try, you just can’t increase your max. Here’s what you’d do –

Take half your maximum reps (in this case, that’d be 5) and perform this many reps at least three or four times per day, perhaps taking one day off completely each week.

After four weeks or so, you’d test your max, and I’d bet my mortgage that your max will have increased.

(At Average Broz gym, they max out on squats 7 days per week)


Increased frequency and increased total volume without causing extreme fatigue on the muscles.

This is a slightly different method to DUP, but the principle is exactly the same.

Weightlifting coach John Broz also poses an interesting question with regard to frequency –

“If your family was kidnapped and in order you get them back, you had one month to put 100 pounds on your squat, would you squat just once a week?” (2)

Any sane person would answer “HELL NO!” because the idea of trying to improve something by doing it infrequently just goes against all basic human logic.

What We Can Learn From Big, Jacked Russians (and even more jacked dudes from Venice Beach)

One last potential benefit of an increased training frequency, from a purely anecdotal standpoint, can be seen by looking back at some of the strongest guys in recent years.

The Eastern Europeans were, by far, the best weightlifters in the world in the 1950s and 1960s. While their alleged increased advances in “assistance” no doubt attributed to this, they were also proponents of high-frequency training – squatting, pulling, snatching, cleaning and pressing six or seven days per week, and up to three times per day. It didn’t seem to affect their numbers.

Likewise, the bodybuilders from the glory days of Venice Beach in the 1960s and 70s didn’t train on the once-a-week body part splits that most IFBB pros utilise now.

The most popular bodybuilders in the 1960's and 1970's in Venice Beach trained each body part more than once per week.

The most popular bodybuilders in the 1960’s and 1970’s in Venice Beach trained each body part more than once per week.

In the early part of his career, Arnold Schwarzenegger was believed to have followed a routine whereby he hit every body part three times a week –

  •          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

Moving on to Daily Undulating Periodization

Okay, you got me. None of the above actually told you what DUP is, but I like to keep the intrigue going as long as possible.

What it hopefully did, however, was show that just because most bodybuilders only hit a muscle group once a week, that doesn’t make it the only way. It does not even make it the optimal way to train.

Likewise, higher frequency training could potentially have even more benefit. And this is where DUP comes in…..

What the Hell is DUP?

DUP is essentially high-frequency training.

You hit a muscle group or perform a lift three, or possibly even four or five times per week.

Let’s break it down to give a brief overview –

Daily – Pretty self-explanatory

Undulating – This refers to the fact the weight/intensity/load changes on a session by session basis.

Periodization – The program is set up in such a way that it is progressive, and has periods of light, moderate and heavy work.

The key to DUP is getting in maximum workout volume, without impacting recovery, which is why the undulating and periodization aspects are critical.

Rules and Regulations of DUP

The basic guidelines of setting up a DUP routine are as follows –

–          Pick basic exercises. (This generally means squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, but you may also include overhead presses as a main exercise. You can also add exercise variations, such as close-grip benches, front squats, deficit deadlifts, etc.)

–          Only choose one “type” of any one movement per cycle. You don’t want squats, front squats, paused squats and safety bar squats in the same training block – choose just one variation at a time.

–          Set your week up so you work each exercise in different ranges. These could be classed as “power, hypertrophy, and strength” sessions, or “light, medium, and heavy” – it doesn’t matter what you call them so much, only that you are working at different loads and intensities.

–          Don’t go nuts on the accessory work. Performing this much weekly volume on a few specific lifts will leave you spent. If you’re trying to hit 20 sets for biceps, looking to increase your pull-ups, or performing eight different types of lateral raise on top you’ll come unstuck.

The Set-Up

Programming a DUP cycle is surprisingly easy.

First up, decide your exercises – I would definitely go with back squats, regular bench presses, and deadlifts in your first time round. This is just to get used to the rhythm and increased volume.

Step two is to plan your days accordingly. Again, we’re keeping things basic here, so let’s try –

Monday – Squat, bench, deadlift

Tuesday – Off

Wednesday – Squat, bench, deadlift

Thursday – Off

Friday – Squat, bench, deadlift

Saturday – Accessory session

Sunday – Off

Now, we need rep ranges.

I like something in the power rep range and intensity spectrum, something in the strength parameters, then some higher rep work as per typical hypertrophy work.

So your three days could be –

Power – 6 sets of 3 at 70% 1RM

Strength – 5 sets of 5 at 80% 1RM

Hypertrophy – 4 sets of 8 at 70% 1RM

Taking this a step further, your week would now look something like –

Monday – Power squat, strength bench, hypertrophy deadlift

Tuesday – Off

Wednesday – Strength squat, hypertrophy bench, power deadlift

Thursday – Off

Friday – Hypertrophy squat, power bench, strength deadlift

Saturday – Accessory session

Sunday – Off

Week-by-Week Progressions

The idea of DUP is to add volume every week. This can be done in one of two ways –

  1.      Add weight and keep sets and reps the same.
  2.      Keep the weight the same, but add sets and reps, while sticking in the given ranges.

Going with the above template, and using the bench press as an example, here’s how a 4-week cycle might look.

We’ll use a 1RM of 250 lbs.

Week 1 (Using weight as the method of adding volume)

Monday – 200lbs for 5 sets of 5

Wednesday – 175 lbs for 4 sets of 8

Friday – 175 lbs for 6 sets of 3 (Focus here is on form/ power/ explosiveness.)

Week 2

You could either add weight, so

Monday – 205lbs for 5 sets of 5

Wednesday – 180 lbs for 4 sets of 8

Friday – 175 lbs for 6 sets of 3 *

Week 3

Monday – 210lbs for 5 sets of 5

Wednesday – 185 lbs for 4 sets of 8

Friday – 175 lbs for 6 sets of 3 *

Week 4

Monday – 215lbs for 5 sets of 5

Wednesday – 190 lbs for 4 sets of 8

Friday – 175 lbs for 6 sets of 3 *

* I prefer to keep power work the same throughout each cycle

or add sets/ reps –

Week 2

Monday – 200lbs for 5 sets of 6

Wednesday – 175 lbs for 4 sets of 9

Friday – 175 lbs for 6 sets of 3

Week 3

Monday – 200lbs for 6 sets of 6

Wednesday – 175 lbs for 5 sets of 9

Friday – 175 lbs for 6 sets of 3

Monday – 200lbs for 7 sets of 6

Wednesday – 175 lbs for 5 sets of 10

Friday – 175 lbs for 6 sets of 3

The Accessory Work

Accessory work should be tough, and focus on areas that the big lifts don’t hit directly.

Ideally, it won’t have any negative impact on your strength for the main sessions. This is why keeping everything at around an 8 to 9 out of 10 in terms of intensity, and not pushing to failure is recommended.

There’s a “done-for-you” accessory session coming below.

A Sample Week

Okay, I won’t hold back any more. I’ll actually give you a complete training week on DUP:

Session 1

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Squat 5 5 80% 1RM
Bench 4 8 70% 1RM
Deadlift 6 3 70% 1RM

Session 2

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Deadlift 5 5 80% 1RM
Squat 4 8 70% 1RM
Bench 6 3 70% 1RM

Session 3

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Bench 5 5 80% 1RM
Deadlift 4 8 70% 1RM
Squat 6 3 70% 1RM

Session 4

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Pull-ups 5 6-8 RPE 8-9
Military Press 5 6-8 RPE 8-9
Bent Over Rows 5 6-8 RPE 8-9
Dumbbell Curls 4 10-12 RPE 8-9
Triceps Pushdowns 4 10-12 RPE 8-9
Calf Raises 4 10-12 RPE 8-9

Follow that structure, add the weekly progressions, and I guarantee you’ll see your fastest gains since you left newbie status.

Discover How To Add 20lbs To Your Bench Press, 15lbs To Your Deadlift, And 20lbs To Your Squat In Less Than 3 Months

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The Wrap Up

It really is no surprise that pro bodybuilders and powerlifters, such as Layne Norton, Ryan Doris, and Paul Revelia, are well and truly on board the DUP gain train.

Volume is, by far, the most underrated aspect in any size and strength building program. It is also quite  often overlooked in your typical bodybuilding routines.

If this hasn’t been enough to get off your once-a-week split routine, I don’t know what will be.

About the Author

junk food budgetMike Samuels is an online coach and personal trainer based in the UK, specialising in fat loss and strength performance. As a competitive powerlifter and former fat boy, Mike knows what it takes to get lean while gaining. For the ultimate DUP program, completely set up and tailored to your current lifts, check out The DUP Method.

Works Cited

“TESTOSTERONE NATION | Figure Athletes.” TESTOSTERONE NATION | Figure Athletes. Web. 16 Sept. 2014. <>.
“The Time Course For Elevated Muscle Protein Synthesis Following Heavy Resistance Exercise” Web. 16 Sept. 2014. <>