Daily Undulating Periodization For Powerlifters


Not too much in life is as sweet as the start of your strength training career.

Every time you step foot into the gym you’re able to add ten pounds to your squat, deadlift and bench press. Hell, you add weight to the bar AND you’re able to bang out a rep or two more than you did in your last training session.

You get stronger by simply walking into the gym.

The amount of muscle you’re piling onto your frame is alarming. You get the occasional side-eye stare from your fellow gym goers who are wondering what it is you’re doing to make such rapid improvements.

It’s absolute bliss going through this stage. With the progress you’re making in your first year, you think you’ll be squatting 500 pounds for reps in no time. There are no signs of you slowing down.

Sure, you’re not adding ten pounds to each lift every workout anymore, but on a weekly basis you’re consistently moving up.

Until the unexpected happens…

The extra five pounds you added to your squat from last workout all of a sudden feels like a dump truck is sitting across your back. You’re not even sure you can get the bar out of the hooks, let alone perform multiple reps of a bench press. And you’re starting to wonder if someone is pulling a cruel trick on you by duct taping your deadlift to the floor.

The inevitable moment where you have to begin planning your training more meticulously has finally hit. The days of simply showing up, adding a few more pounds or doing a few more reps is over.

This is where periodization comes in. But what type of periodization should you be using?

With so many models floating around, it can be tricky trying to find one you can trust to give you the progress you’re seeking.

We’ll dive into a few of the common ways of periodizing your training, but the main focus is going to be placed on one of the lesser known, but highly effective, models of periodization: Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP).

What Is Periodization

Making the definition as basic as possible, periodization can be thought as planning your training out to achieve a desired result.

To the powerlifter and strength training enthusiast, this means developing maximum strength in the squat, deadlift and bench press and being able to showcase said strength at a specific time (a meet or whenever you’d like to hit a specific strength goal).

Linear Periodization

The most common method of periodization is linear. With linear periodization, you start with a phases of higher volume, lower intensity (hypertrophy) then gradually move to lower volume, higher intensity (maximum strength). This is what beginners typically start with, even unknowingly. Put simply, keep adding weight to the bar each workout, or week, until it stops working.

Reverse Periodization

On the flip side, we have reverse periodization. Just like the name implies, it’s the reverse of linear. You start with phases of lower volume, high intensity work then move into higher volumes with lower intensity. Since volume is a key driver in muscle growth, reverse periodization is geared more towards the needs of bodybuilders and anyone who’s only concern is hypertrophy.

Block Periodization

Block periodization is another popular method to use. It has many overlapping characteristics to that of linear periodization, with the distinct difference that it goes from developing general capabilities when further out from an event/meet and gets more specific as the time approaches to showcase your strength.

Daily Undulating Periodization

Last, but certainly not least, and the focus from here on out, we have daily undulating periodization, or DUP, for short.

DUP consists of alternating between the goal you’re trying to achieve during each workout. The goals being; strength, hypertrophy, power and endurance. For the goals of the typical powerlifter, we’re going to leave endurance out of the conversation.

An example of a three day split could be: Mondays are for strength; Wednesdays focus on power; and Friday’s goal is hypertrophy. We’ll dive into it later with an example of a full program, but each workout can have the goal of strength, power and hypertrophy within it; with each of the big three focusing on one goal.

Why DUP?

One of the most crucial aspects of DUP to respect is the idea of high frequency. Each of the big three lifts – or exercises within the same movement pattern – are practiced at least three times per week.

Related post: 3 Reasons High-Frequency Training Is Objectively Better

If you’re familiar with the work of Pavel Tsatsouline, DUP is similar to his idea of “greasing the groove.” Basically, you want to practice a given movement pattern or lift as frequently as possible. The more opportunities you take to practice a lift, the better your chances of perfecting your technique and allowing your nervous system to optimally recruit muscle fibers to move the weight.

Not only does the increased frequency optimize your strength, but hitting muscles more times throughout the week keeps muscle protein synthesis high, thus, allowing for greater muscle growth.

How To Set Up Your DUP Routine

The most common, and beneficial, ways of setting up your DUP routine is through a three or four day training split. A five and six day split is doable with DUP, but we’re going to assume you don’t have all of the time in the world to dedicate to training.

First things first, let’s break down each of the capacities you’ll be trying to develop.


For power development, you’ll use a weight between 50 and 60% of your one rep max. The sets will be on the higher end (5-10) and the reps should be kept around 2-3.


Your weight selection will be between 80 and 90% of your one rep max for all of the strength work. A moderate amount of sets (3-5) with rep ranges consisting of 3-6.


Go with the typical hypertrophy range of 65 to 75% of your one rep max. Three to four sets of 8 to 12 reps.

Once you have the goals you’re of each day lined up, the next thing you need to determine is your exercise selection. The most straightforward path is sticking with the bench press, squat and deadlift for all three of the workouts.

Assistance work can be thrown in for a few sets after the main work when performing a three day split, or on its own day when on a four day split. An example of the assistance work will be shown below.

Three Day Split

Day One

1) Deadlift (power) – 6×3 with 55%

2) Squat (strength) – 4×5 with 80%

3) Bench (hypertrophy) – 3×12 with 65%

4) Upper back and/or core work

Day Two

1) Squat (power) – 6×3 with 55%

2) Bench (strength) – 4×5 with 80%

3) Deadlift (hypertrophy) – 3×12 with 65%

4) Single leg and/or core work

Day Three

1) Bench (power) – 6×3 with 55%

2) Deadlift (strength) – 4×5 with 80%

3) Squat (hypertrophy) – 3×12 with 65%

4) Grip and/or core work

Four Day Split

The four day split will look like the three day split, except the assistance work will be on its own day.

Day One

1) Deadlift (power) – 6×3 with 55%

2) Squat (strength) – 4×5 with 80%

3) Bench (hypertrophy) – 3×12 with 65%

Day Two

1) Squat (power) – 6×3 with 55%

2) Bench (strength) – 4×5 with 80%

3) Deadlift (hypertrophy) – 3×12 with 65%

Day Three

1) Bench (power) – 6×3 with 55%

2) Deadlift (strength) – 4×5 with 80%

3) Squat (hypertrophy) – 3×12 with 65%

Day Four

1) Split Squats – 4×10

2) One-Arm DB Rows – 3×15

3) Side Planks – 4×30 seconds per side

4) Farmers Carry – 3xALAP (as long as possible)

5A) DB Curls – 3×12

5B) Triceps Pushdowns – 3×12

A few things you need to keep in mind when putting together your DUP plan:

  • Your power exercise is always first in the workout. Followed by strength, then hypertrophy. This is done since you need to fresh as possible for the power work
  • The hypertrophy work is important even if don’t need to put on muscle. Treat it as active recovery
  • Separate the squat and deadlift strength days as much as possible
  • As for progression, each week you can either keep the sets/reps the same and add weight, or add a set or rep each week while keeping the weight static
  • To switch things up, you can use similar but different exercises for each of the three days. For example, instead of only using the squat you could squat for strength, safety bar squat for power and front squat for hypertrophy. The farther out you are from a meet, the more room you have to use exercises that aren’t specific to the big three. This would be a great time to use lifts which address weaknesses you have

Related post: Getting Smart With Daily Undulating Periodization

Author: Joe Huskey
Joe Huskey is the owner of HuskeyStrength.com, where he helps men improve their confidence in life by using health and strength as the catalyst.
You can find Joe Huskey at http://www.huskeystrength.com

Get your hands on my cheat sheet for setting up training programs that took a 132lbs. skinny weakling from not being able to bench the bar to deadlifting 3x his own body weight and winning silver at the nationals.



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