Don’t Give Up, Do DUP.

DUP Overview

“I can’t train bench today man, I worked my chest on Monday, and it’s only Thursday now.”

“Legs twice a week? You gotta be kidding me!? My legs need their recovery.”

“Train everything twice a week? That’s a recipe for over-training.”

I hear all of these on a daily basis at my gym. At first, I used to agree with them. Then when I became more educated, they frustrated me. Now, I simply smile and laugh, knowing that the guys and girls talking like this are happy enough with what they’re doing…yet I know that they’re massively compromising their progress abiding by such dogma and diatribe.

In my last article, I talked about why ditching the traditional bro split and adopting a twice-weekly training frequency for each muscle group can drastically increase your muscle building potential.

(If you missed it, I recommend checking it out HERE)

I left you with a training plan. It was a basic upper-lower split, where you work your upper-body twice a week, and your lower-body twice a week. This is just about the best option for increasing spikes in muscle protein synthesis, stimulating muscle fibers more often, and boosting your strength through more frequent activation of your central nervous system.

Ultimately – work each muscle twice a week, and you’ll get bigger.

But what if we worked muscles MORE than twice a week? Say three, or even four times a week?

Sounds crazy, right?

Well, maybe not so much…

Enter DUP

DUP stands for Daily Undulating Periodisation. The main thing that differentiates DUP from other modes of training is the programming.

Most traditional bodybuilding routines have no periodisation whatsoever, and rely on “feeling the burn” or simply training to failure.

Most traditional powerlifting routines work in blocks, whereby you’d do:

  • 2-4 weeks of higher-rep, lighter load work
  • 2-4 weeks of medium-rep, medium load work
  • 1-2 weeks of peaking, where you aim to set new personal records

This is known as block periodisation, and it works just fine, but daily undulating periodisation is a little different.

Edited Deadlift Pic

Instead of having one different focus at different times, you work across a number of different rep ranges and loads through every single block. To explain it further, it helps to have an example.

Look at your typical rep ranges:

  • Power = Sets of 1-3 reps at 70-90% 1RM
  • Strength = Sets of 3-5 reps at 80-90% 1RM
  • Hypertrophy = Sets of 8-12 reps at 70-80% 1RM

Instead of having a block of power work for 2-4 weeks, followed by a strength block, then a hypertrophy block, a DUP setup might look like:

Day 1 –Power work

Day 2 – Strength work

Day 3 – Hypertrophy work

Day 4 – off

Day 5 – repeat

Research seems to indicate that this method of combining differing rep ranges within one training block has elicits a greater strength boost than the traditional block system. In fact, a 2002 study from the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” concluded that

“Making program alterations on a daily basis was more effective in eliciting strength gains than doing so every 4 weeks.” (1)

Ergo – DUP rocks!

The “Other” Thing

While you can theoretically use DUP for any exercises you see fit, as it isn’t a set routine, most folks will set it up purely for a few different compound moves (typically squats, deadlifts and bench presses) and perform each of these three to four times a week using different rep ranges. This goes on the principle of specificity – i.e. to get really good at an exercise and build strength, you should do it often.


Shark squat DUP routine perhaps?

So a weekly cycle of DUP utilising three sessions per week could look like:

Day 1

Exercise Category Sets Reps Load
Squat Power 5 3 80% 1RM
Bench Strength 4 6 80% 1RM
Deadlift Hypertrophy 4 10 70% 1RM


Day 2

Exercise Category Sets Reps Load
Deadlift Power 5 3 80% 1RM
Squat Strength 4 6 80% 1RM
Bench Hypertrophy 4 10 70% 1RM


Day 3

Exercise Category Sets Reps Load
Bench Power 5 3 80% 1RM
Deadlift Strength 4 6 80% 1RM
Squat Hypertrophy 4 10 70% 1RM


Additionally, you would add one or two other more traditional bodybuilding-style sessions in, so that you still work your upper back, shoulders, arms and calves.

These could be as simple as chins, pulldowns, rows, curls, pushdowns, calf raises and some laterals or shoulder presses for 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps each.

Likewise, if you’d rather follow a DUP system that had incline bench presses, rack pulls and front squats as the main lifts, you could do that too.

The bottom line is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to perform a DUP program – the ONLY rule is that you undulate the periodisation and load throughout each training block.

A Couple More Examples

The only trouble with giving out one template for a three-day DUP workout is that folks can get tied into thinking that this is the only way to do DUP, but that’s not the case.

170 for reps

So with that in mind, here’s another couple of examples. How about a 4-day template, with squat as a focus?

Day 1

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Squat 4 8 75% 1RM
Bench 4 6 80% 1RM
Deadlift 4 10 70% 1RM


Day 2

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Squat 6 1 90% 1RM
Deadlift 3 8 75% 1RM
Overhead Press 5 5 80% 1RM


Day 3

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Squat 4 10 70% 1RM
Bench 4 10 70% 1RM
Accessory Work


Day 4

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Squat 5 5 85% 1RM
Bench 6 1 90% 1RM
Accessory Work


Or, you could even go for a full-on squat, bench, deadlift conquest, and tackle each lift four times per week.

Day 1

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Squat 5 1 90% 1RM
Bench 4 4 85% 1RM
Deadlift 3 10 70% 1RM


Day 2

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Squat 3 10 70% 1RM
Bench 3 10 70% 1RM
Deadlift 4 4 85% 1RM


Day 3

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Squat 4 6 80% 1RM
Bench 4 6 80% 1RM
Deadlift 6 1 90% 1RM


Day 4

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Squat 4 4 85% 1RM
Bench 6 1 90% 1RM
Deadlift 4 6 80% 1RM


The possibilities are ENDLESS with DUP, though one thing’s for sure … you won’t fail to see phenomenal gains in size and strength with the increased frequency. One IMPORTANT thing to note is that the above are simply examples of how you might consider implementing DUP into your routine & NOT the be all & end all.

If you’re thinking about giving DUP a whirl, make sure to tag me on Instagram (@nickcheadlefitness) so I can send you a digital high five & if you’re thinking that this is all still a little too hard & would rather let a professional take care of proceedings for you, then I’m just a CLICK away.


  1. Comparison Linear Daily Undulating Periodized Programs with Equated Volume and Intensity of Training
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