Does it Work for Hypertrophy? – Fitness Volt

There are lots of ways to organize your training for hypertrophy or muscle building. However, arguably the most common method is something called linear periodization. This is where workouts gradually get more challenging over time by adding weight, doing more reps, or combining these two approaches.

For example:

  • Week 1: 3 sets of 8 reps @ 70% 1RM
  • Week 2: 3 sets of 10 reps @ 70% 1RM
  • Week 3: 3 sets of 12 reps @ 70% 1RM
  • Week 4: 3 sets of 8 reps @ 75% 1RM
  • Week 5: 3 sets of 10 reps @ 75% 1RM, etc.

Alternatively, you might spend a few weeks training on different muscular fitness components, gradually increasing general training intensity, e.g.,

  • Weeks 1-4: Endurance training 13-20 reps per set
  • Weeks 5-8: Hypertrophy 6-12 reps per set
  • Weeks 9-12: Strength 3-5 reps per set
  • Weeks 13-16: Power 3-5 res per set performed explosively

Linear periodization works well for beginners, who often make improvements and gains from one week to the next in a very predictable fashion. However, intermediate and advanced exercisers may find their progress slows or stops altogether if they use linear periodization.

Rather than use a training method that is no longer productive, more experienced lifters should look for novel ways to train to stimulate continued muscle growth.

One way to do this is daily undulating periodization, or DUP for short.

In this article, we explain what DUP is, how it works, its advantages, benefits, and drawbacks, and how to implement it into your workouts.

So, What is Daily Undulating Periodization, Anyway?

Periodization means training with a progressive plan. In most cases, periodized plans are made up of several phases called cycles of varying lengths.

  • Microcycle – one week of training
  • Mesocycle – a block of training, typically 4-8 weeks or micro cycles
  • Macrocycle – several mesocycles performed in sequence, i.e., a season or training year

In conventional periodization, each cycle builds on what came before to produce continued progress. Each week of micro cycles is slightly more challenging than the last, and each mesocycle involves more demanding blocks of training.

This type of program is called linear periodization,as everything follows a sort of straight line in terms of intensity, volume, and workout difficulty.

Daily undulating periodization uses a different approach and far more workout variation.

In simple terms, DUP means varying your training intensity from one day to the next. These variations (or undulations) in intensity mean you can train more often and build active recovery into your weekly schedule.

A simple DUP plan could look something like this:

  • Monday – 5 sets of 5 reps with 85% 1RM
  • Wednesday – 2 sets of 10 reps with 65% 1RM
  • Friday – 8 sets of 3 reps with 90% 1RM

DUP is commonly used by weightlifters and powerlifters but can also be beneficial in bodybuilding for hypertrophy or muscle growth.

Contrary to popular opinion, daily undulating periodization (DUP) is not a new concept. In fact, old-school strongmen used this training method long before exercise science was even a thing! They simply alternated hard and easier workouts from one day to the next to avoid plateaus and develop multiple types of strength.

How Does DUP Work?

If you do the same or similar workouts too often, your body soon adapts, and those workouts are no longer as productive. It’s like eating the same meal over and over again. You’ll get bored of eating the same foods even if they are your favorites.

Muscular Bodybuilder

Your body is a master adapter, and it only takes a few workouts for it to get used to your latest training program. This is called the repeated bout effect and helps explain why muscle soreness is usually worse when you start a new workout plan but diminishes within a couple of weeks.

That’s why smart weightlifters and bodybuilders change their workouts every 4-8 weeks.

Daily undulating periodization works varying the stimulus and demands of your weekly workouts.

With DUP, the stimulus changes from one training session to the next, which has been shown to be an effective way to build strength and muscle mass (1). You can also use DUP to develop different fitness components in the same training week, e.g., hypertrophy and endurance, or strength and power.

For example, you could do heavy bench presses for low reps one day and lighter bench presses for higher reps a few days later. This would lead to increases in strength AND muscle size.

DUP is also an excellent training method for anyone who finds doing the same workout boring. However, instead of “program hopping,” which is NOT a productive way to train, DUP uses planned variations to keep workouts fresh and interesting.

However, like any training program, even DUP will start to lose its effectiveness in time. But, by alternating between DUP and linear periodization, you should be able to keep progressing for a long time without hitting training plateaus.

The Benefits of Daily Undulating Periodization

Not sure that DUP is the best type of training for you? Consider these benefits and then decide!

Manage your fatigue levels – alternating between intense and less demanding workouts will help manage your fatigue and prevent overtraining (2, 3). This should result in better progress and fewer training plateaus.

You should also find that you can train the same muscles more often than with linear periodization. Higher frequency training can help build muscle faster than infrequent workouts, i.e., a typical bro split.

Increased strength – studies on football players suggest that DUP is better for increasing strength than linear periodization (4). Varying the training stimulus from one workout to the next stops the muscles from becoming used to the workouts, making each training session more stimulating.

Average Man Deadlift

Good for developing multiple strength components at the same time – there are several reasons that you might want to build strength and muscle size simultaneously. Being stronger means you can lift more weight, and in theory, that will make your bodybuilding workouts more effective. Conversely, bigger muscles have the potential to become stronger muscles.

Regardless of the reason why you want it, DUP is an effective method for increasing muscle size and strength in the same training cycle. DUP can also be used for developing muscle power, i.e., explosive strength, and endurance.

A proven muscle-building method – DUP is often used by athletes, but research also supports its use for building muscle. Studies suggest that DUP is at least as effective as linear periodization and may even be more effective for experienced exercisers (5).

An effective way to build and maintain fitness for long periods – most linear periodization models are designed to improve your strength and performance gradually over time, creating a high but short-lived peak. After hitting this peak, you back off and then slowly build up a gain – two steps forward, one step back, and so on.

DUP is generally better for increasing and maintaining peak strength for longer. It’s ideal for athletes with long competitive seasons, e.g., football players.

Great for experienced trainees – the more often you do the same workout, the less effective it becomes. That said, beginners usually don’t need much variation because whatever training they do has an element of newness about it.

More experienced trainees who have “done it all and got the T-shirt” will find the novel training effect of DUP more stimulating, and doing different workouts each day will also motivate even the most jaded lifter.

A good workout plan for generalists – if you want to be muscular, strong, and powerful, DUP can help. In contrast, if you want to develop maximal strength, you should probably spend most of your time on heavy weight and low rep workouts. DUP may not be the best way for strength specialists to train, but it’s an excellent choice for exercise generalists.

The Drawbacks of Daily Undulating Periodization

DUP is a popular and effective way to organize your weekly workouts. However, it is not without drawbacks. Consider the following before you give DUP a try for yourself:

More complex programming – manipulating the training variables from one workout to the next makes program design more complicated than linear or non-periodized programs. Writing a good DUP program takes practice, knowledge, and skill. The lifter also needs to know how to adjust the workout to ensure it’s right for their needs and goals.

Progress is not so easy to track – depending on your DUP plan, you may be training for power, strength, hypertrophy, and/or endurance at the same time. However, with so many training variables and goals, it can be hard to tell if you are improving or not.

Too much variability for most beginners – beginners generally do best on relatively simple programs that let them learn the ropes of effective strength training. That means straight sets, compound exercises, and plenty of opportunities to learn and master how to train correctly.

DUP involves a lot of variation, and most beginners aren’t ready to do this type of training. They won’t get an opportunity to master the basics, either.

Easy to overtrain – in theory, DUP should help prevent fatigue and promote recovery. However, it would also be easy to overtrain, especially if you don’t back off on the easy days or otherwise mismanage your workouts. Avoid this by having designated hard and easy days and not doing more than you are supposed to, even if you are feeling strong and well-rested.

Not so good for peaking – peaking is a training method designed to maximize strength for an event, e.g., a powerlifting meet. Most peaking programs follow a linear periodization plan. DUP tends not to create such a high-performance peak, so it’s not so good for strength sport athletes.

DUP: Sample Program for Hypertrophy

The best way to learn about DUP is to try it for yourself. To save you from having to write your own DUP program, here’s a sample workout plan to follow. You’ll be training your entire body three times a week using the “big three” of squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, or variations thereof.

Follow this plan for 4-8 weeks, and then either switch up the exercises or move to a different workout plan.

Note: DUP is not suitable for every exercise. Each workout contains a couple of supplementary exercises that are to be done as straight sets and not using DUP.

Workout 1

# Exercise Sets Reps Recovery
1 Back squat 5* 3-5 3 minutes
2 Chest press machine 3 10-12 1 minute
3 Romanian deadlift 4 6-8 2 minutes
4 Lat pulldown 3 8-12 90 seconds
5 EZ bar skull crusher 2 8-12 90 seconds
6 EZ bar biceps curl 2 8-12 90 seconds

Workout 2

# Exercise Sets Reps Recovery
1 Leg press 4 6-8 2 minutes
2 Bench press 5* 3-5 3 minutes
3 Hip thrust 3 10-12 1 minute
4 Seated row 3 8-12 90 seconds
5 Cable biceps curl 2 8-12 90 seconds
6 Cable triceps pushdown 2 8-12 90 seconds

Workout 3

# Exercise Sets Reps Recovery
1 Front squat 3 10-12 1 minute
2 Incline dumbbell press 4 6-8   2 minutes
3 Deadlift 5* 3-5 3 minutes
4 Pull-up 3 AMRAP** 90 seconds
5 Dumbbell biceps curl 2 8-12 90 seconds
6 Dumbbell French press 2 8-12 90 seconds

* For the sets of 3-5 reps, pyramid up for the first two sets and then use the same weight for the final three sets, e.g.:

  • 5 reps 120lbs
  • 4 reps 140lbs
  • 3 x 3 reps 160lbs

*AMRAP = As Many Reps as Possible. Continue until you are unable to do more reps in good form.

DUP Workout Exercise Descriptions

Get the most from your DUP workouts by doing each exercise correctly. Here are step-by-step instructions for every exercise in our sample DUP plan.

Workout 1:

1. Back squat

The barbell back squat is the crowned king of leg exercises. No other exercise has the same reputation for increasing muscle size and strength. Squat hard, heavy, and often to build the legs of your dreams!


  1. In a power rack, rest and hold a barbell across your upper back – not your neck. Step out, so your feet are roughly shoulder-width apart. Brace your core and look straight ahead.
  2. Bend your knees, push your hips back, and descend until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Do not round your lower back.
  3. Drive your feet into the floor and stand up.

Muscles targeted:

Primary: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus.

Secondary: Erector spinae, core.


  • An effective exercise for your entire lower body.
  • A very functional movement.
  • It can be used to build muscle size, strength, power, OR endurance.


2. Chest press machine

Resistance machines often get a bad rap because they’re less functional than freeweights. However, machines allow you to train to failure with fewer risks and without a spotter, making them ideal for hypertrophy training.


  1. Sit on the chest press machine and adjust the height, so the handle is level with your lower pecs. Hold the handles and place your feet firmly on the floor.
  2. Press the handles forward and extend your arms, stopping just before your elbows lock.
  3. Bend your arms and bring the handles back to your chest, but do not allow the weights to touch down.
  4. Continue for the prescribed number of reps.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Pectoralis major.
  • Secondary: Deltoids, triceps.


  • The chest press keeps your muscles under near-constant tension.
  • No spotter is required.
  • Train to failure in complete safety.


  • Push your hands inward as well as forward to maximize chest engagement.
  • Lower the weight slowly, pause, and then drive the weight back up powerfully to increase chest recruitment.
  • Rep out to failure, reduce the weight, and rep out again on your final set. This is called a drop set.

3. Romanian deadlift

There is nothing particularly Romanian about this exercise, but it is excellent for developing a stronger, more muscular posterior chain. If you want to beef up your glutes and hamstrings, this is the movement for you.


  1. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and hold a barbell in front of your thighs. Bend your knees slightly for balance and stability. Pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your core. Look straight ahead.
  2. Hinging from your hips, push your butt back and lean forward, lowering the bar down the front of your legs. Go as far as you can without rounding your lower back.
  3. Drive your hips forward and stand back up.
  4. Continue for the desired number of reps.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Gluteus maximus, hamstrings.
  • Secondary: Erector spinae, core.


  • One of the most effective posterior chain exercises around.
  • It can be done with a barbell or dumbbells.
  • Far safer than straight-leg deadlifts.


  • Use lifting straps if your grip needs reinforcing.
  • Place your toes on small weight plates to increase hamstring recruitment.
  • Take care not to round your lower back, as doing so could lead to injury.

Related: Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs) Guide

4. Lat pulldown

Lat pulldowns are a popular upper back exercise. They’re perfect for higher rep training as you can easily adjust the weight. Use different hand positions and bars to target different parts of your upper back, e.g., wide, narrow, or underhand.


  1. Attach your bar to the overhead cable. Grab it and sit down, so your arms are straight overhead. Plant your feet firmly on the floor and lean back slightly. Pull your shoulders down and back, and lift your chest up.
  2. Leading with your elbows, bend your arms and pull the bar down to your chest. Do not flex your wrists.
  3. Extend your arms and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Latissimus dorsi.
  • Secondary: Biceps.


  • A very popular and effective lat exercise.
  • It can be modified to suit all levels of exerciser.
  • Use different hand positions and bars to keep your workouts interesting.


  • Pull your shoulders down and back at the midpoint of each rep to maximize upper back engagement.
  • Use lifting straps if your grip fails before your lats.
  • Try different bars and hand positions to find the best option for your goals.

5. EZ bar skull crusher

EZ bar skull crushers are so-called because if you lower the bar too fast or fail mid-rep, the weight could come crashing down on your noggin! Needless to say, we don’t want that to happen to you, so do this exercise with a spotter.


  1. Hold an EZ bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip and lie on a flat exercise bench. Press the bar up, so your arms are straight and vertical. Pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your abs.
  2. Bend your elbows and lower the bar down to your forehead. Your upper arms should remain stationary.
  3. Extend our arms and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Triceps.
  • Secondary: N/A.


  • An excellent exercise for isolating the triceps.
  • It can also be done with dumbbells.
  • An effective triceps hypertrophy exercise.


  • Don’t go too heavy. This exercise works best with light to moderate weights and medium to high reps.
  • Save time by supersetting this exercise with the next one – EZ bar biceps curls.
  • Increase triceps engagement by doing this exercise on a slightly declined bench.

6. EZ bar biceps curl

EZ bar biceps curls are not just a great arm exercises; they are also very easy on your elbows and wrists. If straight bar curls bother your joints, this exercise should provide some welcome relief.


  • Hold your EZ bar with an underhand, shoulder-width grip. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Brace your core and pull your shoulders down and back.
  • Without using your legs or back for help, bend your elbows and curl the weight up to your shoulders.
  • Extend your arms and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Biceps.
  • Secondary: Forearms.


  • A wrist and elbow joint-friendly biceps exercise.
  • An effective biceps isolation movement.
  • Most gyms have EZ bars, so this exercise is widely accessible.


  • Experiment with a narrower or wider grip to see which one you prefer.
  • Use a little body English to complete your last 1-2 reps and work closer to failure.
  • Try blood flow restriction bands for a bigger pump and a more intense biceps workout.

Workout 2:

1. Leg press

The great thing about leg presses is that they allow you to train your legs to failure in relative safety. The weight is guided by rods, and your back is supported. In fact, the leg press could be the perfect leg exercise for bodybuilders.


  1. Load the machine with the desired amount of weight. Sit on it and place your feet on the footplate. Lean back and push your back into the backrest.
  2. Extend your legs and disengage the weight safety catches.
  3. Bend your knees and lower the weight as far as possible without rounding your lower back or compromising your knees.
  4. Extend your legs and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus.
  • Secondary: N/A.


  • A very back-friendly leg exercise.
  • An easy exercise to learn and master.
  • Ideal for leg hypertrophy training.


  • Move your feet to target different parts of your legs.
  • Do not bend your knees so far that your lower back becomes rounded. This is dangerous and can cause back pain and injuries.
  • Try rep-pause training. Rep out to failure, rest a few seconds with your legs straight, and then push out another couple of reps.

2. Bench press

The bench press is probably the world’s favorite upper body exercise! Most gyms have several bench press stations, and Monday is National Bench Press Day in gyms everywhere. Whether you are a bodybuilder or a powerlifter, the bench press deserves a place in your workouts.


  1. Lie on your bench with your eyes directly beneath the barbell.
  2. Reach up and hold the bar with an overhand, slightly wider than shoulder-width grip.
  3. Plant your feet firmly on the floor, arch your lower back slightly, push your upper back into the bench, and pull your shoulders down and back. Brace your abs.
  4. Unrack the bar and hold it over your chest.
  5. Bend your elbows and lower the bar to lightly touch your sternum. Tuck your elbows in as you descend.
  6. Drive the bar back up, letting your elbows flare slightly in the second part of the rep.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Pectoralis major.
  • Secondary: Anterior deltoids, triceps.


  • An excellent exercise for building muscle size and strength.
  • One of the best measures of upper body strength.
  • A good way to build your chest, shoulders, and triceps simultaneously.


  • Imagine there is a pane of glass resting on your chest. Lower the bar slowly and touch your chest lightly to avoid breaking the glass.
  • Squeeze the barbell as hard as possible to increase wrist, elbow, and shoulder stability.
  • Use dumbbells if barbell bench presses cause shoulder pain.

3. Hip thrust

The hip thrust is a lower back-friendly posterior chain exercise. Powerlifters and booty girls love the hip thrust for building a stronger, more muscular butt and hamstrings. This exercise will improve your squat and deadlift performance – guaranteed!


  1. Sit on the floor with your legs bent and your upper back against a sturdy exercise bench. Rest and hold a barbell across your hips.
  2. Drive your feet into the floor and lift your hips up, forming a straight line with your knees and shoulders.
  3. Lower your butt back to the floor and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Gluteus maximus, hamstrings.
  • Secondary: N/A.


  • A great way to increase glute and hamstring size and strength.
  • A very low back-friendly exercise.
  • Puts the glutes and hamstrings under maximal tension at the top of each rep.


  • Place a folded gym mat between the barbell and your hips for fewer bruises.
  • Pull your toes up and drive into your heels to maximize glute and hamstring engagement.
  • Do this exercise using a booty band to increase glute activation.

4. Seated row

Where lat pulldowns have a reputation for increasing back width, seated rows make your upper back thicker. That’s because they work not only your lats but also your trapezius and rhomboids, too. They’re the perfect partner for lat pulldowns and pull-ups.


  1. Sit on the machine with your legs out in front of you, feet on the footplate, and knees slightly bent.
  2. Grab the handle and, with straight arms, sit up tall. Brace your core and pull your shoulders down and back.
  3. Bend your elbows and pull the handle into your abdomen. Keep your wrists straight and your elbows close to your sides. Do not lean back.
  4. Extend your arms and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Latissimus dorsi.
  • Secondary: Biceps, middle trapezius, rhomboids, posterior deltoids.


  • An excellent exercise for building a thicker, more muscular back.
  • A good exercise for improving posture.
  • You can use different handles/grips to target different regions of your upper back.


  • Do not round your lower back during this exercise, as doing so increases your risk of back pain and injury.
  • Experiment with different handles and grips to see which works best for you.
  • Lead with your elbows and keep your wrists straight to maximize upper back engagement.

5. Cable biceps curl

The great thing about cable curls is how they keep your biceps under constant tension. With fewer opportunities to rest, cable curls will deliver a skin-splitting pump for even better biceps growth.


  1. Attach a straight or EZ bar to a low cable machine. Hold the cable with an underhand grip and stand up. Your feet should be around shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, shoulders back, and core braced.
  2. Keeping your upper arms close to your sides, bend your elbows and curl the handle up to your shoulders.
  3. Extend your arms and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Biceps.
  • Secondary: Forearms.


  • An effective biceps isolation exercise.
  • Perfect for arm-crushing drop sets.
  • Keep your biceps under constant tension for superior muscle growth.


  • Pause at the top of each rep and contract your biceps as hard as possible.
  • Lie flat on the floor if you tend to use your legs and lower back to curl the weight up.
  • Save time by supersetting cable biceps curls with the next exercise – cable triceps pushdowns.

6. Cable triceps pushdown

Cable triceps pushdowns are an excellent triceps isolation exercise. Like cable biceps curls, they keep your muscles under near constant tension for a tremendous pump and superior muscle growth.


  1. Attach a straight bar, EZ bar, or rope handle to a high pulley machine. Grab the handle and pull your arms down, so your elbows are close to your sides. Brace your abs and pull your shoulders down and back.
  2. Without leaning forward, extend your arms and push the handle down to your legs.
  3. Bend your elbows and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Triceps.
  • Secondary: N/A.


  • One of the best triceps isolation exercises around.
  • A very elbow-friendly exercise.
  • Plenty of handle and grip variations to choose from.


  • Use different handles and grips to work your triceps from different angles and positions.
  • Try a reverse (palms up) grip for a unique triceps workout.
  • Do a drop set on your last set to finish off your triceps.

Workout 3:

1. Front squat

While all types of squats work your quadriceps, front squats are especially quads-centric. So, while squats are definitely the king of leg exercises, front squats are the king of quadriceps builders!


  1. Rack and hold a barbell across your anterior deltoids. Hold the bar with your fingertips and point your elbows forward. Brace your core and stand with your feet between shoulder to hip-width apart, toes pointing forward.
  2. Bend your legs and squat down as deep as possible without rounding your lower back.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings.
  • Secondary: Core, erector spinae.


  • One of the best quad-builders around.
  • An excellent exercise for athletes who want to run faster or jump higher.
  • More lower back-friendly than back squats because of the more upright torso position.


  • Place weight plates under your heels so your knees can travel over your toes more easily and you can squat deeper.
  • Move your feet closer together to maximize quads engagement.
  • Stretch your shoulders and lats before and between sets of front squats to make the front rack position more comfortable and easier to achieve.

2. Incline dumbbell press

The flat barbell bench press is an excellent exercise, but it doesn’t do a lot for your upper chest. Using dumbbells and an incline bench is one of the best ways to work the clavicular head of your pecs, better known as the upper chest.


  1. Set the backrest on your bench to 20-30 degrees. With a dumbbell in each hand, sit and then lie on the bench. Press and hold the dumbbells over your chest, thumbs pointing inward. Pull your shoulders down and back, brace your abs, and plant your feet firmly on the floor.
  2. Bend your arms and lower the weights out and down to your shoulders. Get a good stretch in your chest, but don’t hyperextend your shoulders.
  3. Drive the weights back up and together over your chest.
  4. Lower the weights and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Pectoralis major (upper)
  • Secondary: Anterior deltoids, triceps.


  • A very effective exercise for building and shaping the upper chest.
  • A safe exercise – you can train to failure without a spotter.
  • Using dumbbells increases overall pectoral engagement as you’ll have to work harder to stabilize two weights.


  • Do not exceed 30 degrees of bench elevation, as doing turns what should be a chest exercise into a shoulder exercise.
  • Try alternating dumbbell presses for variety and to work one side of your chest at a time.
  • Try single-arm dumbbell bench presses for variety and increased core activation.

3. Deadlift

If the squat is the king of lower body exercises, deadlifts are the confirmed queen! Deadlifts are more of a posterior chain exercise, and they also work your upper and lower back. The deadlift is one of the best muscle and strength-building exercises you can do with a barbell.


  1. Place your barbell on the floor so it’s about mid-shin height or nine inches above the floor.
  2. Stand with your toes beneath the bar, feet around hip-width apart.
  3. Squat down and grab the bar with an overhand or mixed grip.
  4. Straighten your arms, drop your hips, lift your chest, and pull your shoulders down and back. Brace your core and slightly arch your lumbar spine.
  5. Without bending your arms, rounding your back, or letting your hips shoot up, drive your feet into the floor and stand up straight.
  6. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower the weight back to the floor.
  7. Let the load settle on the floor for 1-2 seconds, reset your position, and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae, latissimus dorsi.
  • Secondary: Quadriceps, core, forearms, trapezius, rhomboids.


  • One of the best exercises for building full-body strength and muscle mass.
  • A very functional exercise with lots of carryover to non-gym activities.
  • Teaches you how to lift heavy loads safely, i.e., with your legs and without rounding your lower back.


  • Get tight at the start of each rep – take the slack out of the bar before lifting.
  • Wear a weightlifting belt to increase core stability and lift more weight.
  • If you use a mixed grip, make sure you swap your hands around set by set to ensure you develop your muscles evenly.
  • Use chalk to stop your hands from slipping.

4. Pull-up

The pull-up is a fantastic lat and biceps exercise. Not only does it build muscle size and strength, but it’s also a good test of your relative strength. Can’t do many pull-ups? Maybe you need to lose weight!


  1. Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand, slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Your arms should be straight, shoulders down and back, and core braced. Lift your feet off the floor.
  2. Bend your arms and pull your chin up and over the bar. Pull your elbows down and back, and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  3. Descend smoothly and under control, and then repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Latissimus dorsi.
  • Secondary: Biceps.


  • No special equipment is required. You can do pull-ups from a squat rack, Smith machine, doorway pull-up bar, or even a tree branch!
  • As good a biceps builder as it is a back exercise.
  • A good measure of relative and functional strength.


  • Try a narrower or underhand grip to hit your muscles from a different angle.
  • Add weight in the form of a weight vest or dipping/pull-up belt if you can do 12 or more reps with your body weight.
  • Use a resistance band for assistance if you cannot do five reps with your body weight

5. Dumbbell biceps curl

Who doesn’t want bigger biceps?! The dumbbell biceps curl is one of the best arm builders because it combines elbow flexion with forearm supination, training the two main functions of the biceps in one awesome exercise.


  1. Seated or standing, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms by your sides. Pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your core.
  2. Starting with your palms facing inward, bend your elbows and raise the dumbbells. As your arms reach 90 degrees, rotate your wrists, so your palms are uppermost. Curl the weights up to your shoulders.
  3. Lower the dumbbells back down to your sides, unwinding your wrists as you descend.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Biceps.
  • Secondary: Forearms.


  • A very effective biceps builder.
  • Elbow and back-friendly – especially when performed seated.
  • It will help strengthen your forearms and grip as well as your biceps.


  • When seated, lean back slightly to increase your range of motion.
  • Use an alternating arm action to focus on each arm separately.
  • Keep your hands neutral to emphasize the forearms and biceps brachialis – this is called hammer curls.

6. Dumbbell French press

The dumbbell French press is a challenging but effective triceps exercise. Using just one dumbbell, you should be able to use the same weight you used for biceps curls.


  1. Seated or standing, hold a dumbbell above your head with your hands flat against the inner weight plate. Pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your abs.
  2. Keeping your upper arms close to your ears, bend your elbows and lower the dumbbell down behind your head.
  3. Extend your arms and repeat.

Muscles targeted:

  • Primary: Triceps.
  • Secondary: N/A.


  • Takes the triceps through a large range of motion for a more effective arm workout.
  • Challenges and develops shoulder mobility.
  • It can be performed seated or standing, with a barbell or EZ bar, or on a cable machine for variety.


  • Perform seated if you find it hard to maintain a neutral spine during this exercise.
  • Use two dumbbells instead of one for variety and a more forgiving shoulder position.
  • Superset with dumbbell curls to save time and get a fantastic pump!

Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question about DUP? No worries – we’ve got the answers!

1. Do I need to change exercises workout to workout?

With DUP, the main variables from workout to workout are intensity, sets, and reps. You can also change exercises or, if you prefer, keep the exercises the same.

For example, suppose you are training for powerlifting. In that case, you might want to focus almost exclusively on the big three, i.e., squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. Your weekly workout plan might look something like this:

Workout 1:

  • Squats 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Bench press 4 sets of 8
  • Deadlifts 3 sets of 12

Workout 2:

  • Squats 3 sets of 12
  • Bench press 5 sets of 5
  • Deadlifts 4 sets of 8

Workout 2:

  • Squats 4 sets of 8
  • Bench press 3 sets of 12
  • Deadlifts 5 sets of

Round out each workout with some accessory exercises, and you’re golden!

Bodybuilder Doing Bench Press
Bench Press

2. Is daily undulating periodization good for improving strength?

DUP is a great way to train for strength, providing you include heavy weights and low reps in your weekly training rotation. Typically, that means sets of 3-5 reps with 85% or more of your 1RM (one repetition maximum). At least two of your weekly workouts need to focus on this type of training if you want to get stronger.

3. Is DUP limited to training for strength and hypertrophy?

You can use DUP to train for almost any muscular fitness goal, including power and endurance, as well as the more usual strength and hypertrophy. However, it’s generally best to focus on two similar muscular fitness components because if you throw too many different types of training at your muscles, they won’t know what to adapt to, and your progress will suffer.

For example, it would probably be less effective to try and train for endurance, hypertrophy, and power at the same time.

4. Is DUP suitable for powerlifting?

DUP is GREAT for powerlifting. Most DUP programs let you do the powerlifts several times a week, which is perfect for building strength and improving technical proficiency. Check out question one for a sample DUP powerlifting program.

5. How do you progress DUP workouts over time?

DUP workouts should progress like any other workout – by adding weight, doing more reps, taking less rest time between sets, or changing the exercises to more demanding variations. However, it’s usually best to focus on one variable at a time, e.g., lifting more weight.

6. How is hypertrophy training different from strength training?

Hypertrophy training involves lifting light to medium weights for high to moderate reps to create metabolic stress and muscle tension, which increases muscle protein synthesis. This forces the muscles to grow bigger.

Strength training involves lifting heavy weights for low reps. This causes structural changes in the muscles and nervous system to increase contractile strength.

In some cases, a bigger muscle is a stronger muscle, but that’s not always true.

You can read more about the differences between strength and hypertrophy training here.

7. Hypertrophy training vs. Strength training – which is better?

When comparing strength and hypertrophy training, the best one is whichever matches your training goals. For example, if you want to develop bodybuilder-sized muscles, hypertrophy training is your best option. But, if you want to get brutally strong, strength training is the way to go.

Both are equally good, and the best one depends on what you want to get from your workouts.

Related: Hypertrophy vs. Strength Training – What’s the Difference?

8. Is alternating between a strength week and a hypertrophy week an effective long-term periodization strategy?

Yes indeed! This is called Weekly Undulating Periodization, or WUP for short. With WUP, you might do 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps per exercise one week and 4-6 sets of 3-5 reps the next. This is a good option for anyone who doesn’t want to switch training methods from one workout to the next and a good choice for less experienced exercisers, i.e., early intermediates.  

9. Is it possible to work on strength and hypertrophy on the same day at the gym?

It certainly is! Just do one exercise with a strength bias, and then follow it with 2-3 hypertrophy exercises for the same muscle group, e.g.:

  1. Bench press 3 sets of 4 reps (strength)
  2. Incline dumbbell bench press 3 sets of 8-10 reps (hypertrophy)
  3. Cable crossovers 3 sets of 10-12 reps (hypertrophy)

However, this approach is NOT DUP training.

10. Should a newbie focus on hypertrophy or strength training?

Most newbies should start with higher rep, moderate weight hypertrophy training. Trying to do low reps with heavy weights when you’ve yet to master proper lifting technique or build any muscle, tendon, or ligament strength is a recipe for disaster.

Stick with basic hypertrophy training for a year or so before gradually transitioning into strength training if you wish. However, if bodybuilding is your primary goal, there is no reason to start lifting heavy weights for low reps if you don’t really want to.

11. What is a DUP alternative for beginners?

Beginners should stick to basic linear periodization, especially if it’s producing good results. DUP is best left to intermediate and advanced lifters.

However, suppose your gains are starting to slow, and you are moving away from being a beginner. In that case, Weekly Undulating Periodization (WUP) is a good stepping stone toward DUP.

12. How long can I do DUP?

You can stick with DUP for as long as it keeps producing results. However, you should change exercises every 6-8 weeks to avoid plateaus. You may also want to try different set and rep schemes.

However, if you are training hard, eating well, and getting enough sleep, but your progress has stalled, you may benefit from doing something other than DUP for a couple of months. The new training style should help get you back on the gains train, and you can return to DUP when you are ready.

13. Is DUP safe?

DUP is no safer or more dangerous than any other form of resistance training. The main safety factor with lifting weights is your training technique. Perform your chosen exercises with good form, and your risk of injury is very low.

However, suppose you try and lift too much weight, train too often, or don’t pay attention to rest and recovery. In that case, even the best workout can become unsafe.

Closing Thoughts

DUP is a fun and effective way to organize your workouts. Alternating between heavier weights and low reps and lighter weights and higher reps provides your muscles with a wide range of stimuli that will increase muscle strength and size.

However, it’s worth noting that DUP is best for intermediate and advanced lifters and is overkill for most beginners. Also, DUP is just one training style, and there are plenty of other ways to organize your workouts that are probably just as effective.

So, take our DUP workout for a spin and see how it goes. It could be the perfect training plan to take your strength and muscle mass to the next level.


Fitness Volt is committed to providing our readers with science-based information. We use only credible and peer-reviewed sources to support the information we share in our articles.

  1. Systematic review and meta-analysis of linear and undulating periodized resistance training programs on muscular strength – PubMed. (2015, April 1). PubMed. Retrieved October 9, 2022, from
  2. Periodization: The Effect on Strength of Manipulating. . . : The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. (n.d.). LWW. Retrieved October 9, 2022, from
  3. Daily Undulating Periodization Is More Effective Than Nonperiodized Training on Maximal Strength, Aerobic Capacity, and TCD4+ Cell Count in People Living With HIV – PubMed. (2022, June 1). PubMed. Retrieved October 9, 2022, from
  4. FOOTBALL: Five steps to increasing the effectiveness of. . . : Strength & Conditioning Journal. (n.d.). LWW. Retrieved October 9, 2022, from
  5. Grgic, J., Mikulic, P., Podnar, H., & Pedisic, Z. (2017, August 22). Effects of linear and daily undulating periodized resistance training programs on measures of muscle hypertrophy: a systematic review and meta-analysis – PMC. PubMed Central (PMC). Retrieved October 9, 2022, from

This article was written by Training Editor, Patrick Dale, who has 30 years of experience in the field of Personal Training, Strength and Conditioning. Passionate about providing accurate and trustworthy information, Patrick is committed to delivering top-quality content that is informative, engaging, and reliable. Learn more about our editorial process here.

If you have any questions or need further clarification about this article, please leave a comment below, and Patrick will get back to you as soon as possible.

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