Purpose of Study

Significant numbers of previous studies have shown the improved effectiveness of periodized programs over their non-periodized counterparts for increasing strength. Thus the authors of this study set out to determine the effectiveness of two disparate methods of periodization in comparison to one another: Linear Periodization vs. Daily Undulation Periodization.

Definitions of Periodization Approaches Studied

Linear Periodization (LP) – Focused on training volume and intensity variations gradually throughout the year. This entails dividing training into specific mesocycles of 3-4 months. These mesocycles are usually further divided into macrocycles dedicated to specific goals of athletic development (hypertrophy, power, strength). This method is often also referred to as block periodization.

Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP) – Initially attributed to Poliquin, the volume and intensity variation is systematically programmed to occur every training period resulting in a complete “cycle” occurring each training week.

Important Notes Regarding Study Approach
  • 20 recreationally trained men (at least 2 years of strength training, 3 times per week) randomly assigned to the two study groups.
  • 1RM and 8RM for leg press and bench press determined pre and post training.
  • 12 weeks of training. 4 training sessions per week.
  • Total volume and intensity of both programs was equated so that the only variable was the periodization approach.
  • Nutrition and hydration were not controlled.
  • Training alternated between upper (chest, shoulder, triceps) and lower (legs, back, and biceps) workouts.
  • 3 sets were completed (until voluntary concentric failure) for all exercises
  • Periodization models were only used on the leg press and bench press. All other exercises were considered accessories and were trained for 3 sets (6-8RM).
Training Structure
LP Group DUP Group
Weeks 1-4
3×8-10RM (all sessions) 3×8-10RM; 3×6-8R;3×4-6RM (variation per session)
Weeks 5-8
3×6-8RM (all sessions) 3×8-10RM; 3×6-8R;3×4-6RM (variation per session)
Weeks 9-12
3×4-6RM (all sessions) 3×8-10RM; 3×6-8R;3×4-6RM (variation per session)
Week 13 Testing

After the completion of the study, statistical analysis confirmed that no significant difference between groups existed relative to total training work. While strength improved for the 1RM and 8RM in both groups, the DUP group demonstrated a greater effect size increase in both maximal and submaximal strength after 12 weeks of training.

BABA Conclusion

This study supported the conclusions of Rhea et al., amongst others, that DUP is a superior method of periodization for achieving gains in strength. There are several confounding variables that exist within the study (small sample size, application to higher level athletes, nutrition, etc.), however, these are unfortunately commonly uncontrolled variables in human studies due to ethical and practical limitations. This study controlled for all variables possible in a human study and therefore adds additional evidence that DUP is in fact a more efficient and successful method of training for strength (maximal and submaximal). While many DUP programs have frequency and training work advantages over their linear counterparts, this study showed that DUP is superior even when those factors are controlled. This is highly significant because it demonstrates that the actual structure of the training is what elicited the additional gains and not the additional motor skill from frequency nor the additional stimulus from increased training work. In the face of many other well controlled, peer-reviewed studies (which we will cover in the future) that reaffirm the findings of Miranda et al., Brains and Brawn Athletics agrees that DUP is the superior method of periodization. The science presented in these studies as well as anecdotal personal evidence from our own use of DUP within our own training inform our decision to promote DUP as a programming system and utilize it in the context of coaching our clients.

While not addressed in this study some additional positives of the DUP system of programming are:

  1. Simple and highly specific.
  2. Potential for very high frequency creates opportunity for much better motor skill development of practiced lifts, and thus higher poundages.
  3. Potential for very high total training work creates an opportunity to elicit further gains.
  4. Endless possibilities for customization with which a successful trainee or coach can tailor programming specifically to the athletic demands of the trainee.
  5. Ability to maintain higher performance levels for longer training periods (fewer deloads required).

Cleary the BABA recommendation is to implement DUP as soon as possible. While no human study will ever be perfect, there is ample evidence to suggest that there is no better way to train. BUT HOW?

Well, we would love to help via our online coaching (NOT PROGRAMMING – we strive to be true coaches). Find the coaching option under the coaching tab on this website.

If coaching isn’t an option right now, we understand, and have provided a basic template from which to develop a DUP program. Not everyone is as far on their strength journey as others, so understand that the frequency and volume of the below base program may not be a fit just yet. We recommend that this template be adapted by Intermediate (at least one full year of consistent strength training) to advanced trainees. Tailor the set and rep ranges to match specific goals and select accessories based upon goals and/or weaknesses in the primary lifts.

Exercise Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
Squat 10×3@65% 3×8@70% 6×4@80%
Deadlift 5X1@90% 8×1@80% 12×1@70%
Bench Press 3×8@70% 6×4@80% 10×3@65%
Overhead Press 10×3@65% 3×8@70% 6×4@80%
Accessory 1 4×6-8
Accessory 2 4×6-8
Accessory 3 4×6-8


Michael, @mhorton_92kg