How to Create Your Own Strength Program

When it comes to building strength, there are countless approaches that can get the job done.

10 years ago, if you were to talk to 10 powerlifters about what type of training they follow, you were likely to get 10 different answers.

But walk into a powerlifting gym today and ask 10 powerlifters about what style of training they follow, expect the majority to say “D.U.P.”.

DUP or Daily Undulating Periodization refers to using different loads, reps, and sets in a resistance training program on different days.

I am not sure exactly why or how this style of training has gotten so popular, however, I do have a hunch. Perhaps it’s due to the recent popularity in scientific literature along with the various studies done in the early 2000s that showed DUP getting close to doubling your strength progress in comparison to other well-known training styles.

But I could be wrong.

DUP was introduced to me by an elite powerlifter named Mike Pucci. Mike is a student of Dr. Layne Norton and also happens to be a close friend of mine. When I got the powerlifting itch, I reached out to the strongest guy I knew…and that’s when Mike explained the concept of Daily Undulating Periodization to me.

At first I questioned whether or not I was in over my head. The training was brutal, but I kind of liked it. I grew to love it once I realized all of my big lifts were improving on a weekly basis. Forward less than a year later, and now I am typically the strongest guy in any room I’m in. This is especially true when I am home alone with my children.

So today I want to share with you what Mike shared with me…DUP training.

I am going to give you a step by step guideline for creating your own DUP training program so that you can experience what many new-school powerlifters have experience, animalistic strength gains.

Step 1 – Set a Goal

Before you follow a map, you must know where you want to go.

This will be easy because I am going to pick the goal for you.

Goal: Get as strong as humanly possible in as little time possible.


Step 2 – Exercise Selection

You’ll need to choose 3-4 exercises that have the highest carry-over to your goal. Because your goal is simply to get as strong as humanly possible, I would suggest we go with the squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press.

If you have sport specific goals, then your 3-4 exercises should carry-over into that sport.

Simple enough, eh?

Step 3 – Creating Your Training Schedule

DUP training is typically broken down into 3 days per week.

The standard layout is typically Monday, Wednesday, Friday. However, everyone’s schedule and training availability is different.

As long as you can get 3 training days in per week with (preferably) at least one day in between heavy training days, you should be good to go.

Because your goal is strength, you’re split will look something like this:

Monday: Strength
Tuesday: Rest or Accessory Training
Wednesday: Strength
Thursday: Rest or Accessory Training
Friday: Power
Sat and Sun: Rest

Here’s another example:

Monday: Hypertrophy
Tuesday: Rest or Accessory Training
Wednesday: Strength
Thursday: Rest or Accessory Training
Friday: Strength
Sat and Sun: Rest

You get the idea…

Step 4 – Finding Your Main Lift Frequency

Now we have to find out how many days per week we will be training each movement (i.e. squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press).

Assuming you’re currently training each one of these once per week, we’ll move it up to two.

If you’ve been performing any of these movements more than once per week already, then perhaps but it up to 3.

Going back to the training schedule example, here’s what it might look like.

Monday – Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift
Wednesday – Squat, Bench Press, Overhead Press
Friday – Squat, Overhead Press, Deadlift

Step 5 – Figuring Out Rep/Set Schemes

I’ll make this simple. Here’s a chart:

If you have more than 1 strength day, the idea would be to vary the 1RM% as well as the reps and sets.

For example, the first strength day may be 85% for 7 sets of 3 and the second strength day would be 80% for 5 sets of 5.

There is no right or wrong here. The world is your oyster.

Just keep in mind that the higher the percentage, the lower the reps, the higher the sets.


To put it simply, the lesser the reps, the higher the set count to make up the total volume.

Step 6 – Progressing with DUP

I recommend increasing training intensity and total volume. This simply means you should aim to increase the load slightly on a weekly basis. Adding 5 pounds, to each lift on each day, every week.

In simple terms, the only thing that changes will be the amount of weight you put on the bar. So if this week’s squats looked like this:

Monday: 405x7x3
Wednesday: 385x5x5
Friday: 360x3x8

Then the following week, assuming you hit all of your reps, would look like this:

Monday: 410x7x3
Wednesday: 390x5x5
Friday: 365x3x8

Simple enough, right?

Step 7 – Finding Your 1RM

If you’re going to follow a percentage based training program, then you will need to calculate your training maxes. If you know them, great, if you don’t, here’s how you’ll find out.

Although auto-regulating your training can be beneficial and is certainly a viable option, training with percentages will bring out a monster in you that you’ve never seen. There is something about knowing what you should be capable of and being relentless in achieving that.

For each main lift (bench press, deadlift, squat, etc.) you’ve probably hit a certain weight for a specific number of reps.

Put these numbers into a 1RM calculator and it will determine an estimated 1RM.

For example: 275 lbs bench press 1RM

If your bench press 1RM is 275 lbs, then on an 80% day, you would train with 80% of your 1RM for the prescribed sets and reps.

275 (x) .80 = 220

Determining Your 1RM

Not sure where your lifts are? Take an indicator week where you can determine a starting point.

Work with a weight that you know you can hit for at least 6-8 repetitions. Use the selected weight and perform as many reps as possible (AMRAP) without reaching complete muscular failure.

Use the outcome (weight and reps) in the calculator to determine your 1RM.

Getting Started

If you’ve completed steps 1-7, then your training cycle may look something like this:

I know it was a lot of information but I guarantee it’s a lot simpler than it seems. Follow the steps 1-7, get your nutrition in order, and go to town in the weight room.

It won’t be long before you’re pushing some serious weight. More weight than you can probably even imagine right now as you read this.

If you have any questions regarding this style of programming, feel free to leave them in the comment section and I’ll be more than happy to answer you directly.

About The Author

Alain Gonzalez is a former skinny guy turned jacked fitness pro whose transformation story has been featured in articles on websites all over the internet. He has dedicated his life to helping naturally skinny guys like himself to overcome their genetics and take their physiques to the next level.

Alain Gonzalez
Fitness Author
Strength Coach
Certified Personal Trainer