I started doing the original Starting Strength program a couple of months ago, but swapped power cleans for chins, after failing to do power cleans numerous times.

I'm now at the stage when I can't handle doing deadlifts every second workout, so I have swapped them for the chins/back extensions, as suggested in the book.

This means that my workouts looks like this,

Squat Bench / Overhead Press Chins and Back Extension / Chins / deadlifts

This doesn't seem right. Is there something else I can replace while not moving into the "Your not on the program" area?

  • Doesn't seem right how? If it works for you and are seeing results, where is the problem?
    – user2861
    Nov 1, 2013 at 4:46
  • 1
    I'm confused by your current workout schedule. Is it A) squat, bench, chins, back extensions, B) squat, overhead press, chins, deadlift? Nov 1, 2013 at 7:02
  • 3
    "after failing to do power cleans numerous times". Everyone fails to do power cleans numerous times! Don't give up on them.
    – user4644
    Nov 1, 2013 at 7:39

1 Answer 1


If deadlifts are too much to do every workout and power cleans are off the table then more chin-ups is fine. Something like the following would be fine:

A: Squat, Bench, Chin and Back extensions

B: Squat, Press, Deadlift / alternated with Chins and Back extensions

That keeps you deadlifting once a week, squatting three times a week, and chinning and doing back extensions when you aren't deadlifting. That's a fine way to proceed. It's quite close to the Onus Wunsler Beginner Program (in the back of the book, as an example of keeping notes). You could also take advice from Rippetoe's Wichita Falls Beginner Program:

Wichita Falls Novice Program

Monday: Squat 3x5, Bench press/press 3x5 (alternating), Chin-ups: 3 sets to failure or add weight if completing more than 15 reps

Wednesday: Squat 3x5, Press/bench press 3x5 (alternating), Deadlift 1x5/Powerclean 5x3 (alternating)

Friday: Squat 3x5, Bench press/press 3x5 (alternating), Pull-ups: 3 sets to failure or add weight if completing more than 15 reps

Of course you would remove the power clean. Since you have chin-ups in multiple places in your program, you could switch one of them for pull-ups and glean the advantages of both styles.

The other option is to learn to power clean. That's not such a bad idea.

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