An Intro to Daily Undulating Periodization

Max Gedge

Strength and Conditioning, Coaching, Exercise Physiology, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


So you’ve been hitting the gym for a few years, you’ve had some fantastic results at times, but you feel like your progress has stalled. You reach the same point and don’t seem to be getting any stronger, you’re not building muscle, and it’s hard to stay motivated. Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone.


Now, this could be for a couple of reasons:



  1. The first reason could be that you haven’t followed a proper training program, in which case I recommend you start by using one of the many great programs on this site.
  2. But let’s assume you have followed a program, and it worked. But now it’s not working anymore, why? Well, as I alluded to in one of my previous articles, The Main Reason You Aren’t Getting Any Stronger, the results you see in the gym are an adaptation to stress or stimulus. What has happened to you is that you have run the course of your program, and the stimulus is no longer causing the adaptation.


This is, of course, assuming you are eating well, sleeping well, and doing the things you should be doing to get stronger and build muscle.


Most beginner programs fall into linear periodization, which means the training volume goes up linearly. What is the reason so many programs use this basic template? Because it’s incredibly effective, aka—it works. But, another option is non-linear periodization. And that’s what this article will cover.


Daily Undulation Periodization (DUP) has regained popularity in recent years. Many incorrectly assume it’s a new concept. It isn’t. The most famous application of DUP is probably Louie Simmon’s Westside Barbell style of training.


DUP doesn’t need to be that intense, however. It also doesn’t need to be reserved for the sport of powerlifting.


Everyday gym-goers and athletes can also benefit from an intelligently designed DUP program.



DUP as a concept revolves around high-frequency training while changing the stimulus on each training day.


As the name implies:


  • Daily = Each day
  • Undulating = Constantly changing
  • Periodization = The systematic planning of the training program


This has several distinct advantages.




  1. First, specificity. Because of increased exposure to the motor patterns of each exercise, the competency or technical skill increases. This specificity is also referred to as greasing the groove and popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline of RKC fame.
  2. Second, each lift in each training session can have a specific goal: Strength, power, hypertrophy.


A simple traditional DUP setup would look something like this:



Squat 5 x 5 @ 80%1RM
Bench Press 4 x 8 @70%1RM
Deadlift 6 x 3 @ 70%1RM



Deadlift 5 x 5 @ 80%1RM
Squat 4 x 8 @ 70% 1RM
Bench Press 6 x 3 @ 70% 1RM




Bench Press 5 x 5 @ 80% 1RM
Deadlift 4 x 8 @ 70% 1RM
Squat 6 x 3 @ 70% 1RM


As you can see, the rep ranges and intensities are different for each lift on each training day.


Take a minute also to consider how your current training program compares in both volume and intensity. I’m willing to bet you’re not currently doing 75 reps at above 70% on your deadlift each week, right?


Now you’re not limited to the above exercises either. If you were using the above template, I would recommend an assistance day and focus on unilateral exercises and upper body pulling exercises. You can switch out any of these exercises for another.


I would recommend always using compound movements, however. I would also advise against using two different variations of any exercise (back squats and front squats, for example).


You are better off increasing your training volume on the one variation for one cycle and then switching after 3-4 weeks.


The rep ranges are also not set in stone; however, you want to stay within specific ranges and intensities. The 5 x 5, 4 x 8, 6 x 3 rep ranges are tried and tested for strength, hypertrophy, and power, and I would advise against going too far off the reservation here.


If you’re new to this form of training, use these rep ranges, which you can modify after you’ve had experience using the program.


Don’t be the guy who butchers a program before even starting it, please!

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