dup method-Jmax Fitness

Why the DUP Method SUCKS

A year or so ago, everyone was doing the D.
DUP that is. DUP is Daily Undulating Periodization.


It got pretty damn popular mainly because guys like Layne Norton were following DUP routines and getting great results in terms of size and strength. I myself was on a DUP split for over a year. I added weight to my total, used it to prep for a powerlifting meet where I got my biggest ever competition deadlift (despite cutting weight in the build up), and made some pretty awesome progress. I loved it so much, that I went ahead to co-author The DUP Bible with my friend and fellow coach Jason Maxwell. http://www.jmaxfitness.com/blog/daily-undulating-periodization/

That’s why this blog might be a little odd. If I got such great results and even wrote a whole manual on the topic, why am I dissing DUP?

DUP method SUCKS

“There’s this misconception with DUP that you have to do the big 3 – squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.” Image Courtesy of: tnation.com

It’s Not “The DUP”

As with many training concepts and dietary practices, DUP has been bastardized since hitting the mainstream.

People are now referring to it as “The DUP” and thinking it’s a single routine.

I’ll talk to guys in the gym, and when I ask what program they’re following, they respond with “The DUP routine”. I cringe when I’m in lifting groups on Facebook and see people say they’re trying out Jason and Mike’s DUP program. DUP is not a set system or pre-planned routine, and there’s nothing in there that’s essential to do. Rather, it’s a system that can be tweaked and manipulated around your schedule, your goals, and your training age and experience. I’ll often get questions such as – “I can’t squat, can I still do DUP?” Or “It’s difficult for me to get to the gym four times a week, so I guess that means DUP isn’t for me.” I’ve even heard – “I would do DUP, but I can’t train on the weekends.” Yeah … it’s gotten so bad that people think to follow a DUP-based routine you have to include specific exercises or train on certain days of the week. It’s not like that at all. Let’s delve deeper …

What Does DUP Mean?

DUP is also known as non-linear periodization.

To explain this, it makes sense to go over linear periodization first. This involves splitting your training into blocks or mesocycles.

In your first mesocycle (usually lasting 2 to 6 weeks), you’d train in one rep range with certain load parameters – say each exercise for sets of 8 to 12 reps using 60 to 75% of your one-rep max. In the next mesocycle (again, another 2 to 6 weeks), you’d up the load and drop the reps so you’re getting into more strength territory – perhaps 75 to 85% of your max for sets of 5 to 8 reps. In the final mesocycle (this one may only be 1 to 3 weeks), you’ll up the intensity again by raising your weights to 85 to 95%, and lower the reps to be in the 1 to 5 rep range. Simple concept, and it works. Almost. The trouble with traditional linear periodization is that some of the adaptations that occur and the progress that you make in each mesocycle are lost by the time you come round to that mesocycle block in your next training block. For instance, let’s say that (in theory) you manage to go from 4 sets of 10 squats with 100kg (220 pounds) in the first week of your training block to 4 sets of 12 with 105kg (230 pounds) in week 6. You then increase load and drop reps through the next 6 weeks, and then do the same again during the final mesocycle. By the time you come round to your higher rep, lighter load meso again, your squat strength in that rep range may well have dropped down to what it was right at the very beginning. So while you do make improvements, by neglecting a particular rep range and loading range for so long afterwards, you don’t make many real long-term improvements. Where DUP differs is that you work in every rep range all the time. So rather than splitting your training into separate, distinctive mesocycles, you combine different rep ranges and loads into the same blocks. Therefore you might do –

Session 1 each week = 8-12 reps with 60-75% 1 RM

Session 2 each week = 5-10 reps with 75-85% 1 RM

Session 3 each week = 1-5 reps with 85-95% 1RM

That’s a basic template where ranges and loads are balanced. This can be tweaked however, and we’ll run through that a little later. Let’s say you’re training your squat, for instance. Your weekly routine might look something like –

Monday – 4 sets of 12 reps with 100kg (220 pounds.)

Wednesday – 4 sets of 6 reps with 120kg (265 pounds)

Saturday – 3 sets of 2 reps with 145kg (320 pounds)

Again, this isn’t “THE DUP” routine. You don’t have to use these ranges. You don’t have to squat on these days. You don’t have to squat three times per week. You don’t even have to squat at all.

DUP method SUCKS

“I want to try DUP, but I’m more interested in bodybuilding is another one I get a fair bit.” Image Courtesy of: tnation.com

You Don’t HAVE to Squat

There’s this misconception with DUP that you have to do the big 3 – squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.

But that isn’t the case at all. These exercises work well, as most people will have a rough idea of their 1 rep max on them.

Therefore percentages and loads can be worked out easily, but that’s not to say you can’t test (or work out) your 1 rep max on front squats, incline bench presses, and trap bar deadlifts, or safety bar box squats, block pulls, and military presses. Likewise you don’t even have to work with percentages. You could do something along the lines of –

Session 1 – 4 sets of 4 at RPE 9

Session 2 – 3 sets of 8 at RPE 9

Session 3 – 3 sets of 15 at RPE 8

You’re still working with different loads, and going to an RPE 8 or 9 you’re probably going to be working in right about the same percentages as you would if you knew your max and were using that to calculate loads. The key to it still being DUP is the frequent undulation of loads and reps.

It’s Not Just for Strength

“I want to try DUP, but I’m more interested in bodybuilding” is another one I get a fair bit.

Once again you’ve got to remember that DUP is a training system. Just like 5/3/1 was originally intended for powerlifters, but got taken up by bodybuilders, the same is true of DUP training.

Let’s say the typical “hypertrophy” range is sets of 8- 12 reps with 60-75% 1RM. And let’s also say you only want to squat twice a week, here’s what you could do –

Week 1, session 1 – 4 sets of 8 with 75% 1RM

Week 1, session 2 – 5 sets of 5 with 80% 1RM

Week 2, session 1 – 4 sets of 8 with 75% 1RM

Week 2, session 2 – 3 sets of 12 with 65% 1RM

You’ve still got different ranges and loads, but you’re hitting the ‘hypertrophy range’ more frequently and as such, utilising a DUP pattern. Likewise a powerlifter could do something like this if they were training their bench press three times per week:

Week 1, session 1 – 5 sets of 4 reps with 85% 1RM

Week 1, session 2 – 8 sets of 2 reps with 75% 1RM (speed work)

Week 1, session 3 – 3 sets of 2 reps with 90% 1RM

Week 2, session 1 – 6 sets of 4 reps with 75% 1RM

Week 2, session 2 – 3 sets of 12 reps with 60% 1RM

Week 2, session 3 – 3 sets of 2 reps with 92.5% 1RM

Again, undulating loads, just with more of a focus in strength ranges with higher percentages.

People Shoot Too Soon

If you think a DUP-based routine is a magic formula, hold it right there.

Just because plenty of strong guys (and even some bodybuilders) use DUP in their training doesn’t mean you need it to gain size and strength. People get results on all kinds of different programs.

The only thing guaranteed to produce progress is intense training, with consistent progressive overload. If you’re making progress on your current program and seeing weights go up, there’s no need to change anything.

DUP method SUCKS

“If you think a DUP-based routine is a magic formula, hold it right there.” Image Courtesy of: musclemonsters.com

Bottom Line: It’s Modifiable

Whatever your goals, there’s a DUP template for you.

You don’t have to only be training for strength to use DUP. You don’t have to do any specific exercises, and you don’t need a set schedule or number of days per week to train either.

The key is the frequent undulation of rep ranges and loads. This shouldn’t be mixed up with “muscle confusion”, which seems to be some kind of bro logic about needing to switch everything up every single session so your muscles don’t adapt to a stimulus. Your body needs consistency with what it’s doing (hence sticking to the same movements throughout a training cycle, and keeping these specific to your goals). It also needs some variety to ensure adaptation through different training modalities. Daily undulating periodization can provide that, but it’s not a magic pill. So think before you DUP.

If you’d like to learn more about DUP, click here:

Tell Me More About D.U.P.

About the Author

mike samuels - JMax fitnessMike Samuels is an online coach, writer and powerlifter. He lifts in the GBPF under-74kg category, and has also competed in natural bodybuilding shows with the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation. Mike trains clients looking to get leaner and stronger, and specializes in working with natural bodybuilders and powerlifters. For more information, check out his website, www.healthylivingheavylifting.com