Daily Undulating Periodization – Everything You Need To Know About DUP
When you first started working out, you probably notice very fast gains. Over time, though, those gains started to get smaller and smaller until you reached a point where you weren’t again at all—a plateau. If you take the average way of training by keeping everything consistent, constantly adding weight in a very specific manner, you are training in a very linear way.
But that is not the most effective way to train.
So what is the better option? According to science, Daily Undulating Periodization. Commonly referred to as DUP, Daily Undulating Periodization isn’t a super new concept but it is making a comeback lately. Don’t worry, DUP isn’t nearly as complicated as the name might suggest. Here’s what you need to know:
What Exactly Is Daily Undulating Periodization?
Daily Undulating Periodization is a way of training that is not focused on linear periodization. Still confusing? Let’s think of it this way: undulation is simply the process of up and down progression like you would see on a wave graph—it isn’t a straight (linear) line. Periodization is a way of organizing the way that you train into a very specific plan. Daily, obviously, just means that DUP is something that fluctuates on a daily basis.
The bottom line: DUP is a system of training that involves changing reps and sets through a set training pattern that fluctuates on a daily basis.
The Core Principles Of DUP
If you still aren’t exactly sure what Daily Undulating Periodization is, perhaps the best way to look at it is in terms of what makes DUP work and how it is used instead of trying to bottle it up into a definition. Here are the core principles of DUP that you need to follow to find success:
Core Principle #1: You Need To Put An Emphasis On The Main Lifts
The last time you were at the gym, how many different angles did you focus on when you were trying to hit a specific spot on your quads? Some people focus on a lot of variations and isolations to try and hit muscle groups at very specific angles but it should not be the main focus when training. You need to focus on the main lifts to get the most benefit out of DUP. That means more time deadlifting, benching, and squatting. Compound lifts need to take the front seat when working out.
Core Principle #2: Limit Isolation Work and Assistance
The key term here is to limit, not get rid of entirely. While you need to place an emphasis on your main lifts with DUP, that doesn’t mean you can’t work on specific assistance and isolation workouts. That said if you are doing bench, squat, and deadlift work 4 times per week with high volume (remember, increasing training frequency is important), you might not find it too appealing to try and do 10 different angles on your calves afterwards.
One of the biggest arguments against this is muscle confusion. What you need to realize is that you don’t need to think about muscle confusion in terms of changing up just the angles that you are hitting muscle groups at. Muscle confusion is going to come from undulating and changing reps for progressive overload, not just the variations that you throw in. There isn’t anything wrong with variations but they are not something you need to lose sleep over.
Core Principle #3: Every Rep Range Has A Benefit
One of the biggest differences in DUP is that it doesn’t focus on a specific rep range. In fact, not focusing on one rep range is one of the reasons that DUP can have such impactful results. Depending on your training cycle, you may be targeted rep ranges that are completely different in back-to-back days such as reps of 5 one day, reps of 2 the next day, and reps of 10 the following day.
The big takeaway here is that every rep range has a benefit and it is not one specific day you have to look at, but how each of those rep range changes play a role overall. Volume is more important than your actual number of reps so changing your reps often (and strategically) for maximum benefit is crucial.
Core Principle #4: High-Frequency Training Results In Better Muscle Building And Strength
Another key concept of DUP is that training at higher frequencies is better. There are a couple of different reasons for this and both play an important role in how you will structure your Daily Undulating Periodization training.
On one hand, when you train more frequently you are able to perfect the way that you train on a mechanical level. Each time you lift your body perfects the motions and mechanics of lifting, allowing you to become more proficient and effective which ultimately leads to progress due to better form.
On the other hand, you begin to train your body to respond to your training more effectively. As your muscles contract, your body will begin the anabolic process of protein synthesis. The more frequently you train the more your body adapts to this process which ultimately makes the responses faster and more frequent which leads to better gains.
Core Principle #5: Progressive Overload Is The Key To Progress
If you want to get the gains you are looking for, the real key to Daily Undulating Periodization is progressive overload. There are a lot of misconceptions about how progressive overload works but you need to keep a focus on the volume that you are lifting.
Many people simply try to increase reps to make exercises more difficult and increase volume. Instead of trying to add 50 reps and call it progressive overload, you need to think about volume through weight, not just reps. If you lower your reps or sets you can still increase volume by increasing the weight that you are lifting.
Core Principle #6: Supercompensation
Supercompensation is another key concept of Daily Undulating Periodization. The concept of supercompensation revolves around pushing your training past your ability to recover at very specific times. This is known as overreach, and when you overreach in a very strategic way by using supercompensation, you will take your training to new levels and get the most out of each training cycle.