Daily Undulating Periodization Programming for Your Next Powerlifting Meet

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Daily Undulating Periodization makes a change to the sets, reps, and/or intensity on a daily training schedule. Rather than making changes every six to twelve weeks, the undulating model makes these changes on a daily basis.

The goal is to progress in an upward trend. If the training volume increases, the better the chance that the gains can come. We can calculate the training volume by multiplying sets x reps x weight.


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The SAID Principle

The SAID Principle stands for The Specific Adaptation (to) Imposed Demands. In this example, the goal is to get stronger at the competition lifts. We will introduce demands that are specific to strengthening the lifts. The body will be making adaptations to get better at exactly what we are practicing. If the body is placed under a form of stress, it will make the necessary changes that allow it to become stronger.

We will use variations of the lifts that come very close to the specific meet lift patterns. As training progresses to the final phase, we will switch over to the meet lifts. The days will include three days of the squat, bench press, and a deadlift variation. A fourth day will cover building the body's other muscles.

Autoregulation

How do we move up in weight? Autoregulate!

On the final set of the first and third lift, go for as many reps as possible, except on the speed work. The same for the bodybuilding work on the final lift for that day. You’ll also use auto-regulation on the bodybuilding day for all final sets.

That last set’s effort will determine if you’re ready to go up in weight. If you can go more than one rep but less than five reps, increase the weight five pounds on the following week’s training. If you’re capable of going over five reps, use your judgment and go five or ten pounds on the following week’s training. Don't get cocky; be wise.

RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion)

Think of a scale from five to ten. You did a set of three reps for squats. It had great form, and it didn't feel challenging at all. That’s an RPE of five.

If you did a balls-to-the-wall set of three reps for squats, and if you tried to do another rep, you would injure yourself. You cannot do another rep. That’s an RPE of 10. You’ll use this scale so learn it and understand it.


Training Weeks 1-6

The training uses three specific types of training:

  • Sets with the greatest effort and near maximal weights.
  • Speed work with a set percentage each week to move the bar faster.
  • Sets and reps at a sub-maximal intensity that will help develop the muscles used in the meet lifts. It is important to work on the quality of the reps of the sets.

We train for power because that is what we do! Thus, when we are at our freshest, we will train with the heaviest weight and lowest reps.


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The second part of the training day will be with speed work. You will complete the required reps every minute on the minute (EMOM) with may sets and low reps. Use your cell phone to record your reps. Check the time. The aim is to move the weights faster. Your phone can measure the speed. After Week 3 of the speed work, you will begin with the lightest percentage again. The aim is to get faster.

The final movement will be for bodybuilding work. Bigger muscles can handle bigger weights. We train the lifts that will help the muscles for the competition lift. We will start by using variations of the lift.

Day 1

  • Competition Style Squat — 5x3 (88% of 1RM on first week, then on all successive weeks, use RPE 8)
  • Bench Press — 8 x 3 EMOM (50/55/60%)
  • Safety Bar Good Mornings — 4x8 (work up to an RPE 7)

Day 3

  • Competition Style Bench Press — 5x3 (88% of 1RM on the first week, then on all successive weeks, use RPE 8)
  • Safety Bar Squat — 8 x 3 EMOM (50/55/60% of 1RM)
  • Deadlift: 4x8 (work up to an RPE 7)

Day 5

  • Competition Style Deadlift — 5x3 (88% of 1RM on first week, then on all successive weeks, use RPE 8)
  • Squat — 8 x 3 EMOM (50/55/60% of 1RM)
  • Incline Bench Press — 4x8 (work up to an RPE 7)

Day 6

This is the day for building muscle, so we are looking to stimulate the fibers, not destroy them. Volume is higher, and as training commences, the reps will go lower as the intensity goes higher. Watch for changes in reps and sets.

Weeks 7-11

After the first six weeks, there are some changes. Reps will decrease. The percentage of speed will increase. While the reps will remain high in the final lift, they will decrease as the weeks move forward. Your final lift is now the competition style lift.


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Your bodybuilding day stays intact, but we move the reps lower and use a higher intensity. We also change the exercises, but we stay close to the movement patterns.

Day 1

  • Competition Style Squat — 6x2 RPE 9
  • Bench Press — 10x2 EMOM (55/60/65%)
  • Safety Bar Good Mornings — 3 x 6 (work up to an RPE 8)

Day 3

  • Competition Style Bench Press — 6x2 RPE 9
  • Safety Bar Squat — 10 x 2 EMOM (55/60/65% of 1RM)
  • Deadlift — 3 x 6 (work up to an RPE 8)

Day 5

  • Competition Style Deadlift — 6 x 2 RPE 9
  • Squat — 10 x 2 EMOM (55/60/65% of 1RM)
  • Incline Bench Press — 3 x 6 (work up to an RPE 8)

Day 6

Weeks 12-16 (Peak and Taper, Meet Day)

This is where things get tough and now we will squeeze every last drop of gains left. Here’s what to expect:

  • Overreaching period of fatigue that will last two weeks.
  • Final Lift and Hypertrophy Days will have low sets, low reps, and high intensity.
  • Two-week recovery period.
  • Test your openers.
  • Meet Day.

Weeks 12-14 Overreaching Period

Day 1

  • Competition Style Squat — 3 x 2, 2 x 1, 1 RPE 9. After a 5-minute recovery period, practice commands with your planned opener. Have a friend practice the USAPL commands.
  • Competition Style Bench Press — 12x1 EMOM (60/65/70%)
  • Competition Style Deadlift — 3 x 3 (work up to an RPE 9)

Day 3 

  • Competition Style Bench Press — 3 x 2, 2 x 1, 1 RPE 9. After a 5-minute recovery period, practice commands with your planned opener.
  • Competition Style Squat — 12 x 1 EMOM (60/65/70% of 1RM)
  • Competition Style Deadlift — 3 x 6 (work up to an RPE 9)

Day 5

  • Competition Style Deadlift — 3 x 2, 2 x 1, 1 RPE 9. After a 5-minute recovery period, practice commands with your planned opener.
  • Competition Style Squat — 12 x 1 EMOM (60/65/70% of 1RM)
  • Competition Style Bench Press — 3 x 6 (work up to an RPE 9)

Day 6

All lifts will use RPE 8

Week 15-16/Taper/Meet

The next two weeks are where you’ll coast, and recovery is key. You will perform your meet openers.


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The days change now. You’ll practice a lift per day with a bodybuilding day.

Day 1

  • 3 sets of squat openers with commands.
  • Back off 65% and complete 3 x 3.
  • Take your last heaviest Good Mornings weight and deduct by 60%. Complete 4 x 3.

Day 3

  • 3 sets of bench press openers with commands.
  • Back off 65% and complete 3 x 3.
  • Complete 3 sets of your heaviest chest-supported rows and deduct by 60%. Complete 4 x 3.

Day 5

  • 3 sets of deadlift openers with commands.
  • Back off 55% and complete 3 x 3.
  • Take your last heaviest Safety Squat Bar Squat weight and deduct by 60%. Complete 4 x 3.

Day 6

Do not go heavy. Use 60% of your last week’s weights.

Week 16/Meet Day

Day 1: Squats

  • Warm up to your opener.

Day 2: Bench Press

  • Warm up to your opener.

Day 4: Deadlift

  • Warm up to your opener.
  • Do 2 sets of 3 with squats with 50% of your opener.

Day 5: Bench Press:

Sunday: Meet Day

  • Do all of your mobility work.
  • Warm up with the bar. Complete 2 sets of 5 reps. Wait 5 minutes.
  • 50% of your opener weight for 5 reps. 3-minute rest.
  • 60% of your opener for 3 reps. 3-minute rest.
  • 80% of your opener for 1 rep. 5-minute rest.
  • 90% of your opener for 1 rep.

Rest and be ready to go to the platform. Choose your next numbers wisely. Save some gas in the tank for the final lift.


That’s it!


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I hope this program meets and exceeds your meet goals. I’m very excited for all of you who try this program.

There is a lot of great information on DUP. It can be used for bodybuilding, powerlifting, and any strength and conditioning endeavor that fits into your goals. Good luck, and I hope you smoke your previous PRs!


Chris Marzarella is an ACSM-certified personal trainer and certified sports nutrition coach based in New Jersey and can be reached at marzarellafitness.com. He is also co-owner of purefocussportsclub.com, a hardcore powerlifting and bodybuilding gym.

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