The training world is firmly divided into 2 camps.
On one side you have the old school bodybuilders –
“Hey bro, you gotta do high-rep pump work to get blood into the muscle. Low-rep training will never get you big.”
Then, at the other end, you have the powerlifters, who say –
“A bigger muscle is a stronger muscle. When did you last see a dude bench press 400 lbs with a small chest?”
Who do you believe?
As a hardgainer, you’re already bombarded with all kinds of tips and information on a daily basis – worrying about what rep range to choose is just another confusing topic to add to your ever-growing list.
It’s important though, because you want to progress optimally, right?
If so, you NEED to read this …
Hitting the Higher Reps
Higher rep training (10-15 reps per set) is great for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
That means it increases the size of the muscle cells and allows them to hold more fluid, giving them the appearance of looking bigger.
Additionally, this type of training forces blood and metabolic by-products into the cells. Blood delivers extra nutrients, which aids in growth, while these metabolites, such as hydrogen ions and lactate are also key promoters of hypertrophy.
Trouble is, this isn’t enough.
Low-rep strength training (1-6 reps per set) is usually associated more with athletes like strongmen and powerlifters – and they’re not bodybuilders!
These guys might be on to something though.
Training with heavier loads places a greater demand on your Central nervous System (CNS) and this is king when it comes to packing on mass.
The more efficient your CNS, the stronger you are, and the more weight you can lift.
The more weight you can lift, the more muscle you build.
Get your squat to 500 pounds or your deadlift to 6 plates a side, and there’s no way you’ll be small, weak and skinny.
Plus, this training style boosts myofibrillar hypertrophy – an increase in the density of muscle tissue, making you look much harder and more solid.
If both higher-rep training and low-rep training are just so great, how do you go about combining them?
Unfortunately, it isn’t nearly as simple as just doing both in every single workout.
Plus, what about mid-rep training?
We talked about 1-6 reps and 10-15 reps, but what about stuff in the 7-9 rep range?
Fortunately, the solution is here.
The Problem with Traditional Programming
A typical linear muscle-building routine would have you splitting up your rep ranges into different blocks. For instance, over 12 weeks, a training cycle could look something like –
Weeks 1-4 – Higher reps (10-15 per set)
Weeks 5-8 – Medium reps (7-9 per set)
Weeks 9-12 – Low reps (1-6 per set)
Week 13 – Rest, then repeat
This should work … “Should”.
But it doesn’t.
At least, it doesn’t work as well as you’d hope.
In weeks 1 to 4, you get a great pump, a whole load of metabolic stress, and promote sarcomplasmic hypertrophy.
In weeks 5 to 8, you start moving down the rep ranges. You still get some pump, but you transition more toward strength work, so your lifts increase too.
Weeks 9 to 12, you’re in a full-on strength phase, so your weights go through the roof and you feel like Samson with a full head of hair.
Here’s where it falls down though –
The further you move away from one rep range, the more you lose your gains from that particular one.
That means by the time you’re at weeks 11 and 12 and training for strength, you’ve sacrificed a hell of a lot of the progress you got in your higher rep block.
Likewise, at week 8 in your second cycle, it’s been a full 9 weeks since you last lifted heavy, and so the first week or two of your strength block crushes you, as your CNS hasn’t had to work for quite some time.
That’s why linear periodization doesn’t work.
You need –
Daily Undulating Periodization
Daily undulating periodization (usually shortened to DUP) is a training concept where you combine different rep ranges within the same training block.
That means that during one week, you’ll usually have high-rep, medium-rep and low-rep work, rather than doing just one exclusively for weeks on end, then switching to another.
What’s the benefit of this?
Well, the main one is that you consistently get bigger AND stronger.
You don’t lose your sarcomplasmic gains when training in the lower rep ranges, and you don’t get weaker when you’re doing pump work.
A 2009 study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that those using DUP training gained maximal strength much faster than those on a linear model. (1)
A previous study from the same journal back in 2002 found similar too. (2)
Setting Up DUP
There’s no one set DUP training routine – it’s merely a system that allows you to combine rep ranges as you see fit, and the possibilities are endless.
The premise, however, is that you include a variety of rep work over a training microcycle, which will usually be one week long. Therefore, a weekly template using powerlifting-style session of squats, bench presses and deadlifts could look something like –
Squat for 5 sets of 3
Bench Press for 4 sets of 7
Deadlift for 3 sets of 10
Bench Press for 5 sets of 3
Deadlift for 4 sets of 7
Squat for 3 sets of 10
Deadlift for 5 sets of 3
Squat for 4 sets of 7
Bench Press for 3 sets of 10
In between, you’d have your accessory work for back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, calves and abs.
This isn’t set in stone though – you can program DUP any way you want.
For instance, you could try out a push-pull-legs split, using a DUP template for more than just the big 3 –
Push Day 1 –
Bench Press – 4 sets of 4
Overhead Press – 3 sets of 6
Dips – 3 sets of 8
Lateral Raises – 2 sets of 12
Pushdowns – 3 sets of 12
Pull Day 1 –
Deadlifts – 4 sets of 4
Chin-Ups – 3 sets of 6
Barbell Rows – 3 sets of 8
Shrugs – 2 sets of 12
Biceps Curls – 3 sets of 12
Legs Day 1 –
Back Squat – 4 sets of 4
Front Squat – 3 sets of 6
Leg Press – 3 sets of 8
Leg Curls – 2 sets of 12
Seated Calves – 3 sets of 12
Push Day 2 –
Bench Press – 3 sets of 10
Overhead Press – 3 sets of 12
Dips – 5 sets of 5
Lateral Raises – 3 sets of 8
Pushdowns – 4 sets of 8
Pull Day 2 –
Deadlifts – 3 sets of 10
Chin-Ups – 3 sets of 12
Barbell Rows – 5 sets of 5
Shrugs – 3 sets of 8
Biceps Curls – 4 sets of 8
Legs Day 2 –
Back Squat – 3 sets of 10
Front Squat – 3 sets of 12
Leg Press – 5 sets of 5
Leg Curls – 3 sets of 8
Seated Calves – 4 sets of 8
You’d then repeat this template for the next 2-4 weeks, adding weight each session, before switching around rep ranges and/or exercises, and going again.
The Possibilities Are Endless
There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to set up a DUP plan, and whether your main goal is to build muscle, gain strength, or smash through a plateau – there’s a DUP routine for you.
The only thing that’s certain is that DUP will give you the best gains you’ve had since those glorious newbie days, when building mass was simple and you noticed improvements in your physique every day.
Want the BEST DUP Routine?
The concept of DUP isn’t that difficult to understand, but putting it all together into the best routine for you is a different matter – just where the hell do you start!?
With “The DUP Manual” however, you’re spoilt for choice.
Top strength coaches Mike Samuels and Jason Maxwell have put together “The DUP Manual” which has DUP programs for –
– Peaking for Powerlifting
– Newbie Lifters
– Advanced Trainers
– Busy Guys
– Injured Folk
… An even an optimal plan for guys who seriously need to pack on mass and strength and want to make training their #1 priority. (Be warned – this is NOT for the faint of heart.)
To grab your copy, as well as a tonne of free bonuses, head on over to The DUP Method
About The Author
Mike Samuels runs online coaching business Healthy Living Heavy Lifting.
He loves flexible dieting and specializes in getting clients lean while eating cake and ice cream!
Mike has competed in men’s fitness and bodybuilding competitions, and is also a record holder in the Great British Powerfliting Federation.
You can contact him at –