Daily Undulating Periodization for Powerlifting – Powerlifting Shoes
What is Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP)?
Daily Undulating Periodization, also known as DUP, is a form of workout planning that is consistently gaining popularity in powerlifting, particularly in the USAPL and IPF. In traditional periodization models such as linear periodization and block periodization, workout volume starts high and intensity low. With these programs, intensity is then increased as volume drops over time. Linear periodization models do this discretely, with small, yet consistent manipulation of volume and intensity over the duration of the program. A program that follows block periodization, on the other hand, will exhibit a dramatic shift between the variables every month or so.
For each method, intensity continues to increase with a decrease in volume until intensity tops out and volume is practically nonexistent. At this point, you may only be doing triples, doubles or even singles with your primary exercises. Lifters typically test their strength in the gym or compete in a meet during this period. After the meet or testing, a period of rest or a deload is followed, and then the whole entire process is repeated again.
Unlike traditional linear periodization models, Daily Undulating Periodization does not share this linear relationship between volume and intensity. Instead, volume, intensity and number of sets for any given exercise are undulated, or waved, from workout to workout. For example, you might squat some heavy doubles on Monday, followed by a high volume day with sets of ten a few days later.
Why choose Daily Undulating Periodization for Powerlifting?
Now that you have a basic understanding of what DUP is, you may ask yourself, why choose DUP over traditional periodization protocols? Although traditional models are favored by some of the best lifters in the world, they come with flaws. In block periodization, training is broken into blocks, or mesocycles. Blocks generally last around a month and training is focused on a specific goal during this time. In theory, each block builds upon and compliments its predecessor, but we will soon see that it doesn’t quite work out that way.
The first block, often called the accumulation block or hypertrophy block, is designed to put on quality muscle through high volume, low intensity training. For a powerlifter, this may mean sets of 8-12 and a higher workout frequency than normal. After the accumulation block, two more blocks are performed — a transmutation block and realization block. As previously mentioned, we see an increase in intensity, but a decrease in volume with each block. We also see this correlation with linear periodization. The idea is that we add muscle early and then learn how to use it better through neural adaptations.
Unfortunately, this is a glaring weakness with traditional models. If we added all this muscle through weeks of high volume, high frequency training, what makes us think it’s going to stay once we drop volume, the very stimulus that caused us to gain all that muscle in the first place? The fact is, it doesn’t. One of the most important principles of strength training, the Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands principle (SAID), states that the body will adapt to stress that is put on it. Once the stressor (volume) is removed; however, adaptations will cease and even reverse back toward norm over time. In this case, the removal of workouts that caused hypertrophy will cause us to lose that very hypertrophy we worked so hard for. Sure, we will retain some of our gains, but there’s a better way to do this — DUP.
–>Click here for more information on the SAID principle and how to effectively incorporate into your training to hit big PRs!
Rather than dividing training into distinct phases that don’t carry over well to the next, DUP allows us to train everything at once. Each training day is designated as either a power, strength or hypertrophy day. A 1:1:1 ratio is common, where a power, strength and hypertrophy day is given to each lift throughout the week, but the options are practically endless. For those who need to move up a weight class, a 2:1:1 ratio could be used, where two hypertrophy days are done for each power and strength day. This could still be done over an entire week by the addition of a lifting day or rotated every week. Conversely, if you are trying to peak for a meet or improve neuromuscular efficiency at a certain body weight, the ratio could be skewed so that power or strength days are emphasized instead.
If you are familiar with Westside and the conjugate method, you may be wondering what is different between DUP and Westside methods? Although the Westside conjugate method does vary intensity and frequency each workout through alternating dynamic effort and maximum effort days, there are some key differences which easily make DUP the superior choice.
My biggest concern with the Westside conjugate method is the lack of specificity with exercise selection. It is extremely rare for Westside style lifters to perform the lift exactly as they would in competition. Instead, they opt for variants of the big lifts with the use of chains, bands, boxes, slingshots and all sorts of other odds and ends. Even worse, some lifters rely upon lifts such as good mornings, which have questionable carry-over at best, to strengthen their squat and deadlift! At one point in time, it was routine for Westside lifters to go weeks or even months without training their deadlift directly! Does this seem optimal to you? In order to get as strong as possible in a lift, you must perform that lift! Yet again, this goes back to the SAID principle. We adapt from what we do. If we good morning practically every lower body workout, we are going to build a stronger good morning, not the squat or deadlift. DUP on the other hand refers to manipulation of volume, intensity and sets of a specific lift every workout, not variations of it.
In Westside’s defense, switching up exercises is a good way to work around the Repeated Bout Effect, which states that repeated bouts of a similar eccentric exercise cause less structural damage than the original bout (1). Because damage is a form of stress which is needed to adapt and grow stronger, the Repeated Bout Effect makes it impossible for us to consistently grow bigger and stronger from performing the same exact exercise over and over again. Despite this, Westside suffers from overzealous application of exercise variants. Because of specificity of adaptations, we must perform a lift often if we want to become as good as possible at it. In addition, evidence suggests that the Repeated Bout Effect can be worked around with variations in intensity, which DUP does on a workout to workout basis.
Westside’s dynamic effort work is nonsensical as well. Proponents of Westside claim that dynamic effort is used to increase force production through increased speed, while simultaneously serving as invaluable form work. Typically, the intensity of Westside style speed work is in the 5o to 75% range. Maximal speed isn’t generated anywhere near this! Instead, maximal speed is normally seen around 30% of our 1RM. Even if dynamic effort speed work was performed at 30% and speed was improved at this intensity, moving a light weight quicker won’t necessarily result in an increased bar speed with heavier weights. They’re entirely different stimuli and because of such, work off completely separate neural pathways and motor patterns. For this reason, I also find it hard to believe that lighter weights provide adequate form work. Practically everyone has pristine form with light weight. Form doesn’t really break down for most until intensity begins to creep into the high 80’s and above. Form can be improved by frequent exposure to the exercise with moderate to heavy weights. While Westside might not do this, DUP does.
The argument that dynamic effort work greatly improves upon force production is moot as well. Maximal force production doesn’t fall in the dynamic effort intensity range, which is actually around 80-85%. Because the intensities used for dynamic effort speed work fall somewhere between areas of highest speed production and maximal force production, it isn’t specific to either category. As such, dynamic effort’s carry-over to anything is going to be negligible. If we need to improve maximal force production, much of our training should take place close to that 80-85% range.
I’ve also heard that speed work helps to recruit more muscle fibers. Not even this is true. Contrary to popular belief, muscle fiber activation is based upon levels of intensity and fatigue, NOT bar speed. Because our body likes to conserve as much energy as possible, muscle fibers are recruited from SMALLEST to LARGEST as intensity or proximity to failure increases. The largest muscle fibers are called fast glycolytic (FG) fibers. Many people know these as fast twitch fibers. FG fibers are responsible for explosive short-term anaerobic contractions like that seen in an one rep max or a heavy clean and jerk. Low intensity dynamic effort work performed well short of failure will never end up recruiting these large fast twitch muscle fibers that are accountable for the bulk of our power. Muscle fiber recruitment peaks around 80-85%, which also happens to be the same range as maximal force production. This is not a coincidence. Force is the result of mass times acceleration (F=M*A). Once we pass 80-85%, bar speed slows down because we no longer have additional muscle fibers to call upon. Although mass is increasing slightly due to heavier weights lifted, acceleration is rapidly dropping. The consequence is lower force production values at 90% and above than what we see at 80-85%. With this knowledge, we can also determine that maximum effort (ME) lifts, which are performed at 90%+, are less than ideal for maximal force production. Muscle fiber activation is at its highest, but the product is a bar speed that’s as slow as molasses.
Where many methods falter under scrutiny, DUP shines. DUP adheres to the SAID principle by focusing the majority of our training on our competition powerlifts — the squat, bench and deadlift. By alterations in intensity, volume, set and rep ranges from workout to workout, DUP also manages to escape the Repeated Bout Effect. Because DUP does not show large shifts in volume and intensity over the duration of a macrocycle, we should not expect to see a loss in adaptations like those found in block and linear periodization. Proper DUP protocols do not spend an exorbitant amount of time at unnecessary intensities or concentrate your efforts on increasing your two board slingshot bench. DUP is basic and works incredibly well. Do the lift often, vary the intensity and volume enough to avoid staleness and increase your work capacity over time. Even better, DUP can and should be implemented with other training protocols. They are not exclusive. For example, DUP works great with linear periodization so long as you don’t drop volume too much over the course of the macrocycle. I encourage you to give DUP a shot. You won’t be disappointed.
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Note: I would play it safe and base your percentages off a conservative max. Think something that you could do any day of the week, no matter what the circumstances. For most people, this would fall in the 90 to 95% range.
Popular DUP Influences
For more information on popular DUP programming and lifters that use DUP in their training, check out Mike Tuchscherer, Layne Norton, Bryce Lewis and Mike Zourdos. Mike Tuchscherer is the first American to win a Gold Medal in the IPF World Games. Layne Norton is a pro natural bodybuilder and holds a 667 world record squat to his name. Bryce Lewis has totaled elite while drug free in the 181, 198 and 204 weight classes. His best total to date is 1689 raw without wraps. If science is your thing, Mike Zourdos is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at Florida Atlantic University. Zourdos has performed experiments with real powerlifters and DUP and has seen great results.
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McHugh, M.P.; Connolly, D.A.J.; Eston, R.G.; Gleim, G.W. (1999). Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage and Potential Mechanisms for the Repeated Bout Effect. Sports Medicine, Volume 27, Number 3, 1 March 1999, pp. 157-170 (14).