I heard a lot of fitness bloggers talking about DUP over the past year and was quite eager to see what all the fuss was about. I was working at an International summer school in the UK so my friend and I decided to test it out for the 8 weeks while we were there. The results were pretty astounding. Both of us set PRs in the squat and gained over 15lbs of lean mass. Not bad for 8 weeks of training.
What is DUP?
DUP stands for Daily Undulating Periodisation. DUP is a high volume training system. Instead of following the same rep and set range over the course of the program like a traditional linear periodisation, you undulate between low and high rep ranges session to session. So instead of improving just strength or hypertrophy, DUP covers all bases with your strength training.
You may have heard that switching your program every 4-8 weeks is important to “keep your body guessing”. It is true that after 6 or so weeks your body will become more efficient at a movement like squats therefore slowing the rate at which you build muscle and loss fat due to adaptation.
What you do on a linear periodisation program like strong lifts 5×5 is keep adding weight each week. So if you did 5×5 back squats at 90kg this week, next week the goal is to do 5×5 for 95kgs. This works well at the start of your strength training career but it gets more and more challenging to consistently add 5kg a week the longer you train.
This is where DUP works wonders. First off you never change exercises. This allows you to continually improve your technique in the movements. In another program you might switch from back squats to front squats after 6 weeks to improve muscle stimulus. With DUP you just change your rep and set schemes. This changes the demands on your body and results in an accretion in muscular strength and size.
The reason why DUP is so effective is mainly due to two factors.
- You are performing more reps in the movements each week. If you used to do around 25 squats (5×5, 3×8) a week and now you are doing 80 reps, your strength and size is going to increase.
- By tripling the amount of time you squat your technique will improve.
What does the program look like?
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Squat 5×5 (80%)||Squat 4×8 (70%)||Squat 6×3 (85%)|
|Press 4×8 (70%)||Press 6×3 (85%)||Press 5×5 (80%)|
|Deadlift 6×3 (85%)||Row 5×5 (80%)||Row 4×8 (70%)|
Off Days Yoga
A few DUP programs recommend deadlifting 3 days a week. Personally I wouldn’t recommend this as it is already a high volume program with one day of deadlifts. I found this out the hard way earlier this year and had to stop after week 1. Quite simply, it crushed me and gave me a nasty injury to my lat. The moral of the story: deadlift once per week.
I did yoga on my other days to aid recovery and keep my mobility in check. You can do another accessory day if you want.
Rules to designing your DUP program
If you decide to alter the above template that’s fine so long as you follow these rules and you’ll be good.
- Pick compound exercises – Squat, bench, rows, deadlifts, overhead press.
- Don’t do more than 3 exercises in a session.
- Use the rep ands sets provided.
- If you are worried about neglecting exercises do an assistance training day.
- Have equal reps for presses, rows and squats. Generally if I look at a guys program he’ll have more than twice as many presses as rows or squats. Here I was doing equal or more squats than presses and rows.
|Exercise||Total weekly reps|
The Results from 8 weeks of DUP
As I mentioned above I completed this program with my friend Nick. I was very happy with my own results. I added 6kgs (13lbs) of lean mass and a new squat PR (140kg) but Nick’s were insane.
Last year he got back into training after a 10 year hiatus and got pretty good results. He found it difficult to consistently train in the last 12 months so this was hid first time training after 6 months off.
If you’re a guy who has struggled with getting bigger and stronger than take note of what got Nick these results. First off, here are his improvements in strength and weight gain.
|1 RM||Week 1||Week 8||Gainz|
Below I ask Nick some questions about what worked for him over the 8 weeks.
What did you like about the program?
It was always changing so I didn’t feel bored like I did when doing 5×5 strong lifts. Every week I was beating three records, not one. Doing a heavier weight on the 6×3 gave me more confidence to go heavier on the 5×5 day. It turned out that I matched my 6×3 with 5×5 each week.
What about nutrition?
My goal was to get bigger and stronger so I ate everything in sight. At the camp we got three meals a day so I ate double serving on everything. I got extra calories with yogurt, protein shakes and flapjacks. I looked to get in easy calories any way I could. Peanut butter sandwiches were a handy high calorie snack also. I was not worried about adding some fat as my main goal was weight gain and strength.
What motivated you?
Starting way lower than I should have was a great idea. Instead of going heavy early on, getting frustrated and quitting, I slowly built up the weight I lifted over the 8 weeks. Every week seeing the numbers going up kept me motivated.
The camp setting made it easier to keep to a strict routine. We trained at 6.30 am in the morning. The reason for this was that it was the only available time. The day went from 8am to 10pm!
Having a training partner made it easier to get up as I knew someone else was counting on me. I also felt more energetic the rest of day so when I felt like turning over and going back to sleep I thought about all the positives.
Get up, feel bad for 15 minutes and awesome for the rest of the day vs sleep in feel groggy and guilty for the rest of the day.
Another motivation was knowing the fact that I was making a lot of progress in each workout so missing that workout was a big deal over the 8 weeks. If it was a deadlift day and I missed it that would mean missing 1/8 of my deadlifts which is a lot.
Showing up each day was key, like I mentioned above, 50% of the mornings I didn’t want to train but I still showed up and after 20 minutes I was happy I was up and moving.
What else helped?
Squat technique improved because of the different rep schemes. It was the first time I used a pre workout (caffeine) and that really helped. Just be careful about dosings. What had me super psyched on day one did very little on week 8 so it is not something I wouldn’t use regularly.
Getting 8 hours of sleep was challenging a lot of the time so when possible I went for afternoon naps and this made a huge difference with recovery. Morning meditation also helped with recovery.
Fisherman pants may well be the future attire for squatting.
How did you track everything?
I used Jetfit app to track my workouts. It’s a fantastic app that allows you to quickly track each set and gives you your rest period and predicted 1RM . You can also record weight, body measurements, progress photos and see it all on a calendar view.
I also use habitbull for new habits. Every day you simply cross off the day once you complete your goal. It’s very motivating to see the percentage go up over the course of the month.
I really enjoyed the 8 week block. It was a nice challenge and I came out of it heavier and stronger than before. This was what Dan John calls a bus bench workout. These are periods in which you go balls to the wall usually between 6 and 12 weeks once or twice a year.
What I did was not something sustainable long-term but a great way to push my numbers up quickly over a short period of time. Personally I don’t want to over eat at every meal and force feed myself 3 protein shakes. The digestive discomfort, gas and general feeling of being bloated are not worth it. But, for 2 months, it’s not a problem.
When you know it’s going to be over at a set time and you can dial everything back it’s much easier to keep going.
Rep and set schemes are definitely important when it comes to training but lack of sleep, poor form and a shitty diet will over look all the positives outlined above.
Is DUP the answer to all of your training questions? Hell no. DUP does exactly what it says on the tin, it makes you bigger and stronger. It does not address imbalances and weaknesses the same way a good trainer will with an individualised program. That being said, if you’re looking for something easy and effective then DUP is the answer you’ve been looking for.