To maximize strength, power, and performance as tactical athletes, it is essential to have a well-structured training program that targets different aspects of physical fitness. One effective approach is Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP), a training method that varies the intensity, volume, and exercises daily. This article will explore the concept of DUP and its excellent application in strength and conditioning for tactical athletes.

Understanding Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP)

DUP is a training strategy that involves altering the training variables daily to achieve different training adaptations. Unlike traditional linear periodization, which progresses through distinct training phases, DUP allows for more frequent changes in volume, intensity, and exercise selection within a week or microcycle. DUP aims to optimize strength gains, enhance muscle growth, and improve overall performance by continuously challenging the body with different stimuli. 

Several adaptations in DUP that can be trained are listed below:

  • Power 
  • Strength
    • Maximal (five reps or less, max effort or close to 85 percent or higher)
    • Sub-Maximal (five to eight reps, lower load, non-maximal, but developmental. 70-85 percent) 
    • Strength Endurance (6-20 reps, lowest possible relative load)
  • Speed
  • Hypertrophy
  • Work Capacity
  • Energy System Development
    • ATP-PC
    • Anaerobic 
    • Aerobic

The Benefits of DUP for Tactical Athletes

  • Enhanced Adaptability: Tactical athletes require a broad range of physical qualities, including strength, power, endurance, and agility. DUP allows for frequent changes in training variables, ensuring adaptability across various physical demands encountered in the field.
  • Efficient Time Utilization: Tactical athletes often have demanding schedules and limited training time. DUP allows for targeted training sessions focused on specific aspects of fitness, making efficient use of the available time while still achieving significant gains.
  • Preventing Plateaus: The constant variation in intensity, volume, and exercises inherent in DUP helps prevent plateaus by continually challenging the body. This ensures consistent progress, minimizing stagnation in strength and performance.

Implementing DUP for Tactical Athletes

  • Identify Training Variables: Begin by identifying the key training variables, such as intensity (load), volume (repetitions and sets), exercise selection, and rest periods. These variables will be manipulated throughout the week to induce various training adaptations.
  • Plan Weekly Training Sessions: Divide the training week into specific focus areas, such as strength, power, endurance, and mobility. Assign specific training days for each focus area while ensuring sufficient recovery between sessions.
  • Vary Intensity and Volume: Manipulate intensity and volume within each training day. For example, incorporate heavy loads with lower repetitions and sets on a strength-focused day. Use explosive movements with lighter loads and higher velocities on a power-focused day. On an endurance-focused day, incorporate higher repetitions and sets with shorter rest periods. Below are three examples that demonstrate methods and models mixed to increase the likelihood of greater adaptations for the tactical athlete. See examples below:

Template One: Body Composition/Hypertrophy Four Days Per Week

Quality TrainedDay OneDay TwoDay ThreeDay Four
Quality OneSub Maximal Strength DevelopmentStrength Endurance Sub Maximal Strength DevelopmentAerobic RecoveryHR Zone Two15-25 minutes
Quality TwoStrength Endurance  Aerobic CapacityEMOMs, AMRAPs, Rep effort trainingStrength Endurance  Mobility
Quality ThreeAerobic IntervalsAnaerobic capacity Aerobic IntervalsMobility

You will notice in template one that days one and three are concentrated with heavier loading relative to days three and four. The only difference is that day two will build on the strength endurance quality with higher volume and lower intensity while the aerobic capacity stimulus is more intensive than that of day four, which can also serve as a recovery day if needed. For Days one and three, the aerobic intervals are prescribed in HIIT circuits. Template one’s overall objective is to increase muscle size, decrease body fat percentage, and build a base to tolerate higher volumes for phases to come. 

Template Two: Strength Programming Five Days Per Week

Quality TrainedDay OneDay Two Day ThreeDay FourDay Five
Quality OnePower Submaximal StrengthRest – Optional HR Zone TwoPower Submaximal 
Quality TwoMaximalSubmaximal Strength Rest - MobilityMaximalStrength Endurance
Quality ThreeStrength  Rep effortRest – Mobility Strength  Aerobic Capacity 

Template Two is for the tactical athlete that needs increased development with days one and four having heavier relative loading and being more intensive than that of days two, three, and five. Day three will serve as a full rest day to recover and adapt from the stress from days one and two. The difference between days four and five is that we will have day four be more intensive relative to day five, with an addition of higher aerobic programming presented on day five. 

Template Three: Balanced Program – Maintenance Six Days Per Week

Quality TrainedDay OneDay TwoDay ThreeDay FourDay FiveDay Six
Quality OnePower Submaximal Strength Aerobic CapacityPower Submaximal Strength Aerobic Capacity
Quality TwoStrength Strength Endurance or Rep EffortAerobic CapacityStrength Strength Endurance or Rep EffortAerobic Capacity
Quality ThreeStrength  Anaerobic Capacity  Aerobic Capacity/RehabStrength  Anaerobic Capacity  Aerobic Capacity/Rehab

Template Three is simply how most tactical programs should be structured once individuals need more general training and are more efficient if scheduling issues are present. Building on the two previous templates, Template Three is great because it can be adjusted in so many ways if changes arise.

Day One and Day Four serve as the most intensive due to their power & strength adaptations that are generated.

Day Two and Day Five are still building a base of submaximal strength, strength endurance, and rep effort, and will be augmented by building anaerobic capacity as well.

Day Three and Day Five will serve as lower-intensity days with higher volume.

Please note for more advanced individuals, Day Three will either be more or less intensive than Day Six if needed based on response to the stress and rest days scheduled. 

Exercise Selection

Rotate exercises within each focus area to target different muscle groups and movement patterns. This helps prevent overuse injuries and ensures well-rounded development. Traditionally, accessory exercises are rotated every three to four weeks, while primary movements depend on the goal of the phase. The more specific the task, the more specific the exercises need to be if the movements can translate from the weight room to the field for operations. 

  • Rotation examples:
    • Front plant - Sagittal Plane
    • Vertical pull - Horizontal pull 
    • Horizontal press - Vertical Press
    • Dumbbell - Barbell
    • Unilateral - Bilateral 

Monitor Progress and Adjust

Regularly track your performance and make adjustments as needed. If progress stalls in a particular area, consider altering the training variables, exercise selection, or incorporating new training techniques. As the practitioner, build relationships with the tactical personnel to enhance communication on how much loading should be prescribed daily.

A common tactic I use in programming is breaking down each day for the tactical athletes into a 20-minute block, 40-minute block, and 60-minute block. This will help adjust programming to be as effective as possible based on uncontrollable factors such as:

  • Time available to train
  • Fatigue accumulated job-specific duties
  • Fatigue accumulated from previous training
  • Diet
  • Sleep
  • Family stressors

See the example below: 

Day One
A1.  Bench Press 4x570-75%
A2. Single Leg Curl 3x8 eachRPE 7
A3. Low Band Rows3x2075 sec
B1. Lateral Squat4x8 each
B2. Single Arm Lat Pulldown4x8 each
B3. Plankx30 sec
B4. Tricep of choice B5. Bicep of choice.X10-15X8-12
60 sec
Ropes  - 20 sec on/20 sec offx6 rounds

Red = 20 minutes to train
Red + Blue = 40 minutes to train
Red + Blue + Black = 60 minutes to train


Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP) offers tactical athletes an effective training approach to optimize strength and conditioning. By manipulating training variables daily, DUP provides adaptability, prevents plateaus, and maximizes training efficiency. Remember to carefully plan and monitor your progress, making adjustments when necessary. Incorporate DUP into your training regimen, and you will experience improvements in strength, power, endurance, and overall performance, ensuring you are ready to excel in any tactical situation.

Stay dedicated, stay disciplined, and embrace the power of DUP in your training journey as a tactical athlete. Remember, if the tactical athlete stays ready, they never have to get ready! As always, please feel free to take my work and build off of it.


  1. Biagioli, B. (2015). Advanced Concepts of Strength and Conditioning.
  2. Bondarchuk, A. (2007). Transfer of Training in Sports.
  3. Dietz, C. Van Dyke, M. (2016). Triphasic Training Tactical Manual. 
  4. Verkoshansky, Y. (2003). Supertraining.
  5. Zatsiorsky, V. Kraemer, W.  (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training.

Kosta Telegadas currently serves as the site lead strength and conditioning coach for tactical athletes overseas for the US DOD. Prior to working in the DOD, Coach Telegadas obtained his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Longwood University in 2016 and his Master of Science in Education in Exercise Physiology with a concentration in Strength & Conditioning in 2018. 

Telegadas has an extensive & diverse background in strength and conditioning. Over the years, he has worked with middle school, high school, collegiate & professional athletes prior to coming to work in the tactical setting. 

Telegadas has a deep love for competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, writing articles for the next generation of S&C coaches, & presenting on topics in the tactical setting. To contact Kosta, please email him directly at or DM him on Instagram @Coach_Telegadas.

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