Finding the style of training you enjoy can be difficult. In some cases it can take years. It could be powerlifting, zumba, barre, cycling, rock climbing, and so on. While it can be quite varied each style has its own training methods; training periodization. What this simply means is the method of programming that allows you to see consistent results and improvements over years. For example, some styles require you train every day for 3 hours a day while others may require only 30 min. three times a week. Other variations require changes in training frequency, intensity, volume, and more. When it comes to my preferred style of training, bodyweight and weight lifting, I have tried most variations of training methods: split routines, compound sets, push/pull workouts, and so on. I’m not arguing that any specific method is better or worse. This article is meant to showcase the method that I feel is keeping me healthier and helping me make steady progress in my training while avoiding injury and chronic pain. This method is known as Daily Undulating Periodization (aka DUP).
Popularized by Charles Poliquin (some would argue the creator) the DUP method takes standard training protocols to a whole new level. To understand what DUP is we need to look at a very popular and common training method known as Linear Periodization (LP). If you remember your graph charts from high school then you should remember that linear is imply a line gradually going up or down over period of time:
Simple but effective in the early stages of training
In terms of weight training it means you gradually increase the weight you use each training session with very little adjustments to the exercises or the rep scheme. This method is very effective for new trainees. Some studies have shown LP to work for up to 1 year with consistent improvements. However, this method has 2 big drawbacks. First, it is very poor at helping trainees overcome plateaus. The body needs new stimulus aside from more weight to overcome new challenges. Second, it increases the chance of injury from overuse of the same exercises. In order to reduce the chance of injury you need to change the movement pattern, even slightly, to allow the body to be challenged and loaded in different manner.
The DUP method varies in several ways from the LP method. The first difference is the cycle of training. Instead of a linear line the DUP method looks more like a wave:
Complicated, I know
A simple example would be to look at the weight used. As we mentioned before the LP method gradually increases the weight used each week in a cycle (a cycle can last up to 12 weeks). The DUP method increases and decreases the weight used each week, and sometimes each day! The reason behind this method is due to a mountain of research showing the bodies muscles can adapt to a new stimulus in as little as 6 workouts. Let’s say you have a 3-day a week routine. According to DUP you would change this routine every 2 weeks! Sounds crazy but I can say it has personally worked very well for me. But, that’s just the beginning.
Other variations that alter every few weeks, aside from weight used, are the number of reps and sets in each workout. As the weight changes we feel a new stimulus and the reps and sets need to adjust to take advantage. Let’s say you were focusing on strength for 2 weeks. The weight you use could be 85-95% of your 1 rep max and you only perform reps of 1-5 for 5-6 sets during those 2 weeks. The following 2 weeks you could drop the intensity to 65-75% and perform 3 sets of 10-15 reps. And, finally, you’d do another 2 weeks where the intensity would be 75-80% with 4 sets of 6-8 reps. You might be asking yourself, “how will my body get stronger if I change the reps this quickly?” The reason is very simple: different loads have a different stimulus on our muscle fibers. By changing the weight and reps this often allows the body to retain what is has gained while providing a new stimulus. This is a prime example of why the LP method has such a big draw back. With the LP method you spend too much time focusing on one phase of training that by the time you recycle the program you’ve lost a lot of what you originally gained.
Another huge advantage of the DUP method is the exercise selection (my personal favorite for why I love this method). You can love a routine but most of us get bored very easily. With the DUP method you change the exercises along with the intensity, sets, and reps of your workout. Not only will this challenge your body from different angles, it will keep your brain entertained while you train. Again, you might ask yourself, “how will I get stronger if I change the exercises all the time?” Well, if you want to get better at any movement you need to challenge your body from different angles and different angles stimulate different muscles. An example would be the deadlift. With the DUP method you would spend 2 weeks performing a standard deadlift. Then, you would perform stiff leg deadlifts. Then, racked deadlifts. Sumo deadlifts. One-leg stiff leg deadlifts. Snatch grip deadlifts. Deficit deadlifts. See? That’s 7 variations of the same movement pattern but loaded at difficult angles. Throw in various intensity levels, different rep ranges, and the number of sets you perform you can begin to see how much fun, but complex this method can be. To help you out I’ve provided the article LINK that was published back in 1988 by Charles Poliquin. Nearly 30 years later and this method has proven its metal with thousands of trainees and athletes around the world.
Don’t want to read the article? Fine. Here’s a sample graph of how you can use the DUP method to change your intensity in each workout:
Having trouble with your exercise selection? Below I’ve listed 5 basic movement patterns and several variations of each pattern for you to choose (in no specific order of importance):
- UPPER BODY PUSH
- Bench Press (barbell, dumbbells, floor, bands, chains)
- Dips (parallel bars, bench, rings, weighted, non-weighted)
- Pushups (incline, decline, band resisted)
- Press (barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, strict, push press, push jerk, seated, standing, kneeling)
- UPPER BODY PULL
- Pull-Ups (weighted, non-weighted, wide, close, pronate, supinate, neutral)
- Rows (barbell, kettlebells, dumbbells, TRX, pronate, supinate, neutral)
- LOWER BODY PUSH
- Squats (barbell, kettlebells, dumbbells, front, back, Zercher, split, TRX, Bulgarian)
- Hip Thrusts (barbell, no weight, on floor, on bench, single leg)
- Pistols (weighted, non-weighted, TRX, bench)
- Lunges (barbell, kettlebels, dumbbells, hanging, racked, double arm, single arm, forward, reverse, lateral)
- Step Ups (barbell, kettlebels, dumbbells, hanging, racked, double arm, single arm, forward, lateral)
- LOWER BODY PULL
- Deadlift (barbell, kettlebells, conventional, sumo, deficit, elevated, bands, chains, stiff-leg, one-leg)
- Kettlebell Hinge (swings, cleans, snatches, two-handed, one handed, doubles, alternate)
- Olympic Lift (cleans, snatches, power, hang, elevated)
- Farmer’s Walk (barbell, kettlebells, dumbbells, hanging, racked, overhead, double arm, one arm)
If you’ve been counting that’s over 100 exercises to pick from! Simply changing the position of your hands or feet on the same exercise provides a new stimulus. Happy programming!
STAY FIT MY FRIENDS!