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Why DUP is Better Than Linear Periodization

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Guest Post by: Marc Lewis M.S.(c), CSCS, ACSM-CPT

You’ve hit the wall.

Your strength has plateaued, energy plummeted, and motivation has been embarrassingly low.

Hell, you’d rather watch friends and eat gelato than pull weight.

It’s obvious what you’re doing isn’t working.
You need to make a change.

When my clients plateau on basic linear periodization it’s time for a new strategy: Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP).

Daily Undulating Periodization Vs. Linear Periodization

DUP, or daily undulating periodization, is the systematic variation of training volume and intensity into shorter periods of time (1, 2). This method of periodization is non-linear, which is in contrast with the traditional linear periodization (LP) model.

The traditional LP model focuses on the variation of training volume and intensity throughout the year, which is facilitated by a systematic decrease of volume and increase of intensity to allow a peak performance at a planned time (1).

In other words, you train for a specific block of time with one goal that builds up to the next training block. This could be a muscle building phase followed by a pure strength phase, and finished with a power phase for competition.


large__7736528266, DUP, daily undulated periodization

Why DUP is Better Than Linear Periodization

What’s so great about it when compared to a more traditional method of periodization? 

DUP allows you to focus on four elements:

1) Establishing a more efficient recovery pattern (i.e. stress to recovery ratio)

2) Adding more total volume per week (added volume = hypertrophy)

3) Increasing training frequency = increasing skill acquisition/adaptation of neural movement patterns

4) Eliminate Plateaus

First, DUP allows for a more efficient recovery pattern, while still allowing you to maintain the adequate intensity and volume needed to increase strength and stimulate/maintain hypertrophic development (3). During a traditional LP training block, the intensity steadily increases while the volume steadily decreases.

This results in cumulative fatigue and staleness. In addition, you run the risk of losing a portion of the muscle mass gained during the higher volume blocks (3).

Second, the DUP method improves recovery while simultaneously allowing you to add total volume per week. This is critical, since total volume (i.e. mechanical overload) is directly related to stimulating the necessary cellular signaling for the development of muscular hypertrophy. 

Third, DUP allows for an increased training frequency through the alternation of stimulus during a shorter period of time. . As a result, you create a greater neuromuscular adaptation compared to the linear model (1, 2, 3).

Eric’s Note: In essence, you train heavy during one workout, while the next workout is more extensive, or volume based with less neural demand. This can be applied on a bigger scale to one or two-week microcycles of training. Read more about training splits here.

 How To Hang Clean

Charles Poliquin on Daily Undulating Periodization

Charles Poliquin (1988) originally proposed the systematic alternation of volume/intensity in shorter periods of time (3).

Poliquin (1988) theorized that strength-training programs lose their efficiency after two weeks, as he supported two-week cycles of a training block while alternating between volume and strength blocks (3).

Furthermore, Poliquin pointed out that alternating volume/strength blocks eliminates the physiological and psychological causes of progress stagnation caused by an overemphasized specialization on volume or intensity (3).

Poliquin’s DUP Plan


Weeks 1-2 3-4 5-6
Reps 10-12 4-6 8-10
Sets 3 5 4
Intensity 70-75% 82-88% 75-78%
Volume (reps x sets) 30-36 20-30 32-40

As you see, Poliquin’s model allows for a new stimulus every two weeks and provides you with the required intensity needed for strength gains, while facilitating the necessary mechanical overload required for muscular hypertrophy.

 Mirandas DUP Model

Miranda et al (2011) compared LP versus DUP in a model that was adopted by Rhea et al (2002), as daily undulating periodization, or what we refer to as DUP (1, 2). Miranda and his colleagues found that DUP elicited similar improvements in maximum strength when compared to LP (1).

However, since the DUP treatment group had a significantly higher baseline 1RM it can be suggested that the DUP treatment group did in fact elicit a greater change in maximum strength, by noting the magnitude of change (i.e. effect size) (1).

In other words, Miranda et al suggested a DUP model with varying volume and intensity is better at getting you jacked than basic linear periodization.


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
3 X 8-10RM 3 X 6-8RM 3 X 4-6RM

Miranda’s treatment model portrays the alternation of volume and intensity throughout each specific week, which allows for adequate recovery as well as a new stimulus each training day. Rhea et al (2002) pointed out that the superior strength gains seen with DUP could be attributed to a multitude of mechanisms including muscle fiber transformation, bioenergetic adaptations, and neuromuscular alterations (2).

         Okay, Enough with the Research. What Does this all mean?

DUP is be prescribed many different ways and varies according to the individual, purpose of training, and period of sporting cycle (i.e. off-season, in-season, etc.). That means whether you’re looking to get explosive athleticism, strength, or get jacked DUP is adaptable to your goals. However, a four-week DUP program with a 2:2:1 weekly ratio of hypertrophy, strength, and power training would look like this:

Week 1

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 10-12 6-8 3-5 10-12 6-8
Sets 4 4 6 4 4
Intensity 65-70% 70-75% 55-60% 65-70% 70-75%
Volume 40-48 24-32 18-30 40-48 24-32

Week 2

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 8-10 4-6 2-4 4-6 8-10
Sets 4 5 6 5 4
Intensity 70-75% 82-88% 58-63% 82-88% 70-75%
Volume 32-40 20-30 12-24 20-30 32-40

Week 3

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 6-8 2-4 2-4 6-8 2-4
Sets 3 4 5 3 4
Intensity 75-80% 88-92% 60-63% 75-80% 88-92%
Volume 18-24 8-16 10-20 18-24 8-16

Week 4

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 10-12 6-8 3-5 10-12 6-8
Sets 4 5 6 4 5
Intensity 68-73% 73-78% 55-60% 68-73% 73-78%
Volume 40-48 30-40 12-24 40-48 30-40

In this four-week sample program, the training days would be split as follows:

Day 1: Upper Body/Hypertrophy

Day 2: Lower Body/Strength

Day 3: Full Body/Power (pause sets w/focus on slow eccentric control and explosive concentric movement)

Day 4: Upper Body/Strength

Day 5: Lower Body/Hypertrophy

When programming a training schedule using the DUP method, it’s imperative to remember that DUP is programmed based on each individual goal. Training must be specific to your goals—a one size fits all approach is a first-class ticket to mediocrity, not excellence. Although DUP looks complicated, the basics are still best. Pick compound exercises you know well and hammer home strength and performance.


Upper Bench Press Push Press*
Lower Back Squat Deadlift
* The weight is based on an estimated 1RM from a 5RM test

As you can see, the exercise selection is basic and focused on push, press, pull, and squat. Include accessory movements after the main exercises to balance training between anterior/posterior sides of the body and prevent injury.

Wrapping iDUP (see what I did there?)

When your training hits a plateau you must make a change.
Your periodization model is a good place to start.

Adapt daily undulating periodization to your training for improved recovery, greater training volume, and increased training frequency for massive gains in strength and muscle mass. Keep your exercises simple and train with purpose;  you’ll be blasting through your plateau and setting PR’s in no time.

About the Author:

daily undulated periodization

Marc Lewis M.S.(c), CSCS, ACSM-CPT is the Director of Sports Performance at Winston Salem Personal Training in Winston Salem, NC, as well as a graduate assistant at the University of South Carolina in the Department of Exercise Science.



Twitter: @mtlewis14

But, That’s Not All

Looking to Implement the DUP method into your training?
Then I have the perfect resource for you.

The DUP Method by Jason Maxwell and Mike Samuels is an easy-to-follow workout and nutrition plan that uses the latest science to allow you to get stronger in as little as 4 weeks.

DUP manual

Whether you’re an average dude just trying to look better or a competitive lifter looking improve a specific lift Jason and Mike have you covered from every angle. The DUP Method hits on every aspect to maximize your time in the gym as well as the 23 hours outside of the gym, such as recovery and soft tissue work to diet and supplementation.

You NEVER fail a lift, and systematically get stronger, making plateaus a thing of the past.

Get the Full DUP Method Now


  1. Miranda F, Simao R, Rhea M, Bunker D, Prestes J, Diego Leite R, Miranda H, De Salles F & Novaes J. Effects of linear versus daily undulatory periodized resistance training on maximal and submaximal strength gains. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25(7). 2011.
  2. Rhea M, Ball S, Phillips W & Burkett L. A comparison of linear versus daily undulating periodized programs with equated volume and intensity for strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 16(2). 2002.
  3. Poliquin C. Five steps to increasing the effectiveness of your strength training program. National Strength and Conditioning Association. 10(3). 1988.

photo credit: legdog via photopin cc

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