If I take an 'off the shelf' starting strength workout and increase the repetitions to the 8-12 range per set, will it be an effective hypertrophy workout?

  Day 1
  Squat 3x12
  Bench 3x12 
  Snatch 5x8

  Day 2
  Squat 3x12 
  Press 3x12 
  Dead  1x8
  • Snatch is not part of SS. The program uses power cleans for 5 sets of 3. Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 14:24
  • May not be a duplicate, but, very similar to another question of yours.
    – rrirower
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 17:06
  • 4
    You're going to do 40 snatches? The only time I every approach that many reps, is with just the bar for technique work (and then it's up to at most 5 reps per set, but usually 3 or less at a time). The Olympic lifts are not designed for hypertrophy; they are a purely and technically strength oriented exercise.
    – Alex L
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 19:26

3 Answers 3



Starting Strength is developed with a purpose, and it's written the way it is for a reason. You can morph it however you'd like, but then it's no longer SS3x5, and for better or worse, you can't expect the same results.

  • Starting Strength is 3x5, not 5x5.
    – Alex L
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 19:27
  • Edited. Point stands :)
    – Alec
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 19:42
  • 1
    I completely agree.
    – Alex L
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 19:46

Changing Starting Strength to Sets of 12

The heart of Starting Strength is an interdependent synthesis of the following factors:

  • Progressive overload every workout
  • Squatting every workout
  • Focus on few compound lifts
  • Sets of 5

There are other contributing elements, but I'd argue those are the core of the program. The key is that each element depends on the others. Changing sets of 5 to sets of 12 cannot be done without upsetting the balance: the progressive overload scheme will have to change, since sets of 12 respond differently than fives to increased weight. Total volume will go way up, which might affect later sets in the workout, especially the power cleans.

Your Specific Situation

Do not do snatches in sets of 8. First of all, sets of 8 in the snatch are ridiculous for anything except conditioning or sport-specific training for Olympic lifting. Second of all, snatches aren't in Starting Strength--and power cleans--which are in Starting Strength--are a totally different animal with sets of more than 5, just like snatches.

If you want a hypertrophy program, a hypertrophy program would be a better choice than Starting Strength with a different rep range slapped on the box. Hypertrophy-specific programs add volume and hypertrophy-rep-range work using more appropriate exercise selection and ordering than this modified pseudoprogram. Or, just do Starting Strength and eat a lot. People get bigger doing that.

  • I replaced power cleans with snatches because of issues in form (too long forearms as mentioned in the book). I like and know how to perform the exercises on SS, therefore my interest on keeping on it. Will look for alternatives. Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 18:20
  • @CleberGoncalves: if you want a snatch-like movement that lends better to hypertrophy rep ranges, consider doing snatch pulls (or high pulls) instead. I'd still recommend against it, as 8 reps is plenty of time for fatigue to negatively affect your technique and allow for bad habits to form. You're probably better off sticking to strength rep ranges for the snatches (which would also probably work well with the rest of the hypertrophy work).
    – Alex L
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 19:30
  • 1
    @CleberGoncalves If you've been on SS and are looking for the next thing, consider Greyskull and 5/3/1 as more hypertrophy-oriented programs. 5/3/1 is a bit slow at first but strikes a nice balance between working strength in the main lifts while still racking up volume and hypertrophy in the assistance lifts. As for snatches, I see no point to doing sets >3, and wouldn't do them at all if I wasn't interested in athletics. The closest hypertrophy analogue might be high pulls as Alex suggests, or heavy shrugs. Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 20:00
  • Doing starting strength and eating a lot is definitely not something I'd recommend for hypertrophy. You can do it, but it's somewhat hit and miss. A few people get muscular, anecdotally it seems more people end up fat. Or maybe the fat ones just complain more than anyone else. Anyway, it depends on you.
    – hamza_tm
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 14:42

Progressive overload is considered the most important principle behind hypertrophy, so increasing the weight, repetitions (reps), and sets will all have a positive impact on muscle growth.

That said, SS is designed carefully for new lifters, changing the volume in such a way will not benefit you as well as picking a intermediate hypertrophy programme and going with it.

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