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Daily Undulating Periodization Training
By Don Gauvreau, MSc, CSCS, NSCA-CPT

A research-proven training method for unbelievable gains
in muscular size and strength!

PHIL HEATHAccording to the world-renowned exercise physiologist Tudor Bompa, periodization is defined as the process of varying a training program at regular time periods to elicit optimal gains in physical performance. Linear periodization (LP) is the most common type of periodization. Basically, LP structures different training cycles into specific time periods based on a specific goal. Usually the main goals are hypertrophy, strength, and power. So with LP, you would dedicate 4 to 8 weeks specifically to hypertrophy, then move on to 4 to 8 weeks of strength, and then 4 to 8 weeks of power training. The problem with this type of periodization is that when you switch from one training phase to the next you can end up losing some of the gains you made in the previous phase. For instance, when you move from the hypertrophy to the strength phase, you may end up losing some of the hypertrophy gains you made because the new training style that you’re now following doesn’t allow you to maintain the previous gains. This is where Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP) fits into the mix. DUP overcomes the shortfalls of LP!

Enter the Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP) Training Zone!

Unlike LP where you only change your training style every 4 to 8 weeks, DUP implements variations in training style on a daily basis. DUP training programs are most commonly split into upper and lower body workouts. Basically, the first two workouts of the week (upper and lower body) are dedicated to one type of training protocol such as low-volume, high-intensity training. The following two workouts of the week (again, upper and lower body) are dedicated to high-volume, low-intensity training. The two different training styles allow you to work on achieving multiple goals at the same time. For example, the first two workouts of the week will allow you to stimulate maximum strength, and growth of the type IIB muscle fibers since your focus is on low-volume high-intensity training. For the second two workouts of the week you’ll mainly stimulate hypertrophy of type I (slow-twitch) and type IIA (fast-fatigue resistant) muscle fibers since your focus is on high-volume low-intensity training. As you can see, varying the volume and intensity of your training on a daily basis can help you achieve multiple goals (i.e., strength and hypertrophy). In turn, this will result in maximal stimulation of all the different muscle fibers in order to maximize muscle growth.

Even scientific research supports the use of DUP for maximum gains! In a research study conducted by Matthew Rhea at Arizona State University, DUP was shown to be more effective than traditional LP in terms of yielding strength gains. So, you can rest assured that if you decide to give DUP a try it won’t compromise any of the progress you’ve already made up to this point in time!

Put Your DUP Training Plan into Action!

The DUP training program I’ve outlined below will mainly focus on building maximum muscular size (hypertrophy). However, even though muscle size is the main goal you’ll still make some pretty impressive strength gains at the same time if you follow the program precisely. If you haven’t already experienced the benefits of DUP then give it a try. This new training protocol could be exactly what you need to push your body past its current level of muscular size and strength!


Training Split
Day 1 – Upper body (low-volume, high-intensity)
Day 2 – Lower body (low-volume, high-intensity)
Day 3 – Rest day
Day 4 – Upper body (high-volume, low-intensity)
Day 5 – Lower body (high-volume, low-intensity)
Day 6 – Rest day
Day 7 – Rest day

Day 1 – Upper Body Workout
1. Flat Dumbbell Press, 4 sets of 6 reps, 90 seconds rest, 2011 tempo
2. Close-Grip Weighted Chin-Ups, 4 sets of 6 reps, 90 seconds rest, 2011 tempo
3. Incline Barbell Press, 4 sets of 6 reps, 90 seconds rest, 2011 tempo
4. Bent-Over Barbell Rows, 4 sets of 6 reps, 90 seconds rest, 2011 tempo
5. Weighted Dips, 2 sets of 6 reps, 90 seconds rest, 2011 tempo
6. Barbell Curls, 2 sets of 6 reps, 90 seconds rest, 2011 tempo

Day 2 – Lower Body Workout
1. Barbell Squats, 4 sets of 6 reps, 120 seconds rest, 2011 tempo
2. Romanian Deadlifts, 4 sets of 6 reps, 120 seconds rest, 2011 tempo
3. Dumbbell Split Squats, 4 sets of 6 reps, 90 seconds rest, 2011 tempo
4. Standing Calf Raises, 4 sets of 8-10 reps, 90 seconds rest, 2011 tempo
5. Seated Calf Raises, 2 sets of 8-10 reps, 90 seconds rest, 2011 tempo
6. Hanging (Weighted) Leg Raises, 2 sets of 8-10 reps, 90 seconds rest, 2011 tempo

Day 3 – Upper Body Workout
1. Incline Dumbbell Press, 3 sets of 12 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
2. Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns, 3 sets of 12 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
3. Smith Machine Flat Bench Press, 3 sets of 12 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
4. One-Arm Dumbbell Rows, 3 sets of 12 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
5. Incline Dumbbell Flyes, 2 sets of 15 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
6. Seated Cable Rows, 2 sets of 15 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
7. Overhead Dumbbell Extensions, 2 sets of 15 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
8. Dumbbell Hammer Curls, 2 sets of 15 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
9. Cable Triceps (Rope) Pushdowns, 2 sets of 15 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
10. Cable Biceps Curls, 2 sets of 15 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo

Day 4 – Lower Body Workout
1. Barbell Split Squats, 3 sets of 12 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
2. Lying Hamstring Curls, 3 sets of 12 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
3. Alternating Dumbbell Lunges, 3 sets of 20 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
4. Leg Extensions, 3 sets of 20 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
5. Calf Raises (on Leg Press Machine), 3 sets of 20 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
6. Seated Calf Raises, 3 sets of 20 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
7. Cable Crunches (to the sides), 2 sets of 20 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo
8. Cable Crunches (to middle), 2 sets of 20 reps, 60 seconds rest, 1010 tempo

A Side Note on Tempo:
The tempo used in this program is written in a sequence of four numbers (i.e., 2011). The first number represents the eccentric phase, the second number represents the stretched phase, the third number represents the concentric phase, and the fourth number represents the contracted phase. The number assigned to each phase of the tempo represents the number of seconds you should take to complete each phase.

Example of 2011 Tempo:
2 = 2-second eccentric contraction (negative part of the movement)
0 = no pause at the “stretch” portion of the movement
1 = take 1 second for the concentric contraction (the actual pushing/pulling of the weight)
1 = take 1 second pause at the peak contraction of the movement


1. Bompa, T.O. Periodization of strength: the new wave in strength training. Toronto, ON: Veritas Publishing Inc., pg. 28, 1993.

2. Rhea MR, Phillips WT, Burkett LN, Stone WJ, Ball SD, Alvar BA, Thomas AB. A comparison of linear and daily undulating periodized programs with equated volume and intensity for local muscular endurance. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Feb;17(1):82-7.

About the Author
Don Gauvreau maintains www.LeanBodyRx.com, a website dedicated to scientific-based exercise and nutrition information, and also works as a consultant to the dietary supplement industry. To contact Don for consulting services or one-on-one coaching, please visit his website: www.LeanBodyRx.com


Q&A Section by Erik Ledin of Lean Bodies Consulting.


Q: How much cardio do you recommend for someone looking to lose body fat while maintaining muscle mass and strength?

A: The short answer would be, the minimum amount necessary to see results. I am a firm believer that nutrition should be responsible for as much of one's fat loss progress as possible. Cardio should be used as an 'adjunct therapy' as needed and weight training should be used to preserve muscle mass and strength - not for fat loss.

Some people will have to do more than others to achieve the desired results - typically females of lighter bodyweight. The reason for this is that since their maintenance intake tends to be relatively low (due to a lighter bodyweight), creating the appropriate caloric deficit requires a painfully low caloric intake, which in addition to the obvious hunger issues, also has the potential risk of not meeting one's nutritional needs. So in these cases, it might be better to eat more, and do a bit more cardio to create the necessary deficit. For the most part, a deficit is a deficit whether created by caloric restriction, energy expenditure by way of exercise, or some combination of both.
As to the type of cardio, you generally see people fall into one of two camps - lots of low intensity, long duration cardio (steady state cardio) or some form of interval training (HIIT). I fall somewhere in the middle and think utilizing both is the best approach. HIIT is great for fat loss and also has the side benefit of being a short, albeit intense, workout. However, it's also a very demanding workout, particularly for the legs if you're choosing running or stationary cycling as your exercise of choice. Coupled with one or two intense lower body sessions a week, too much HIIT might result in some localized overtraining of the legs. So, this is an instance where more is not necessarily better, especially if you're trying to hold on to your strength and size. So depending on how your lower body workouts are structured, I'd say a couple HIIT sessions is going to be sufficient more often than not. I often choose two and when doing so might reduce leg volume and also consider reducing the weekly lower body training sessions from two to one.

While still on the subject of interval training, and having made mention of the potential issues with localized overtraining of the legs, I think that the optimal positioning of one's interval training workouts would be on leg days, but in a session separate from the leg training workout. This has the benefit of allowing the legs to have more complete rest days. If a person had their training set up as two upper body workouts and two lower body workouts for example, and they positioned their HIIT workouts on upper body, or even off days, you're looking at four intense lower body days per week, which for some might be a bit much.

So in terms of a recommendation? I'd probably start with 1-2 HIIT sessions per week and another couple low/moderate steady state sessions and adjust accordingly from there. However, remember to look to your nutrition first when plateaus hit. Don't automatically assume you have to do more cardio. Might you have to do more? Perhaps, but again, look to your diet first and then start looking at the other elements of your training program second. I do not believe that anyone has to resort to the nonsensical approach you see so many competitors these days following - twice a day steady state sessions of 45-60 minutes. I think anyone who has to do that much cardio to lose fat is a dieting moron.

One last thing to hit on is the issue of whether cardio should or even needs to be done in a fasted state. The short answer is no it doesn't. You'll hear it preached in bodybuilding and fitness circles that to 'burn more fat' you have get up early and do your cardio fasted. It's not necessary, and in the case of intense HIIT sessions, definitely not recommended. While you might use more fat as fuel during fasted cardio, at the end of the day it's irrelevant. What's important is the caloric deficit you created during activity, not where that deficit (fat vs carbs) came from and fasted vs fed cardio doesn't change that. In fact one might argue that eating first might be a better option since performance generally will improve with a full tank, which could translate into greater expenditure during the workout.

Q: If someone focuses on putting on muscle for a few months (or whatever block of time is normal) and gains 1-2 pounds of muscle, do those couple pounds of muscle actually make any physical improvement? Or does it take a lot of muscle (and therefore a long block of time) to see any changes? How long should a bulking phase last?

A: I doubt a couple pounds of muscle would make much visual difference. Mind you, it depends on where it ends up. If you were specializing a body part with everything else put on maintenance, then it would probably register as some kind of visual improvement in the specialized muscle group. That said, over the course of a few months, I'd expect more than 1-2 pounds of muscle if the dieting and training strategies were designed properly.

As for how long a bulking phase should last, I think it's individual and should be based on:

1. How lean you are when you start bulking (or how fat you are).
2. How fat you're willing to get (meaning at what point is it no longer acceptable).

I don't believe bulking is a free pass to just get fat. Many people are still doing it the "old-school" way. While it's definitely essential that you take in more calories in order to add muscle, an all-out feeding frenzy for months on end can lead to pounds of unnecessary fat gain - fat that you're just going to have to diet off eventually. When it's all said and done, a lot of these bulking plans leave you with more fat than muscle. Couple that with the fact that people tend to lose muscle on a prolonged diet (although with smart dieting this can be minimized), and it doesn't seem worth it. However, expecting to not gain some fat is also unreasonable. If you're trying to gain muscle, you're simply going to have to accept the fact that with the new muscle there's going to be some fat gained in response to the increase in calories. Trying to stay really lean while gaining muscle is a short cut to NO results. The goal should be to maximize muscle gain and minimize fat gain.

I think the best approach is to set a cut off point - whether that be a waist measurement, a set of caliper readings, an approximate bodyfat percentage, etc. I wouldn't use bodyweight as a gauge however as it really tells you nothing more than what you weigh and gives you no information on body composition. So you'd bulk to that predetermined cut off point, and then do a short dieting phase to get your bodyfat back down and then resume the bulk. This also has the added benefit of resetting your appetite and giving you a short break from eating so much food. This kind of cyclical approach will prevent you from ever getting too fat.

The other benefit to this is the fact that the higher your body fat is, the worse your partitioning (basically the preferential direction of calories to muscle or fat) and the more fat/less muscle you tend to gain in caloric excess. The leaner you are, the more the opposite holds true. So basically, the fatter you are, the more likely your new weight is going to be fat. This lends more support to the idea of not allowing yourself to get too fat during your bulking phase.


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