Over the past weeks I´ve read a lot of articles and watched many videos on the topic of “Tall people and compound movements”. I´m 6 foot 4 (1.96m) tall myself so this is interesting for me especially. In a nutshell it says that, because of the leverage and distance the weight is moved when a tall person performs a compound, we´re always put at a disadvantage. I was going back and forth also thinking about it when lifting and came to the conclusion that it is of course correct- to a certain extend and in a limited environment.
Here´s my personal view on it: With the length of my legs alone I will never be able to squat the same amount of weight as a shorter person with the same strength stats as myself. Leverage and the length of legs in comparison to the torso make it physically nearly impossible to make up for this. Look at the strongest squatters in Powerlifting or Olympic lifters. You will rarely find a person competing at the top with a height over 1.90m. China for example selects athletes for their team based on height a lot. Look through the ranks and you´ll find the majority to be roughly between 1.60 and 1.80.
While really tall people may not be as crazy on squats, deadlifts are a different story. Some of the best deadlifters in the world are fucking behemoths. Look at Brian Shaw or Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, both way taller than I am and while only Eddie Hall could Deadlift 500KG so far, both of them are not far behind him. Eddie Hall again is way smaller than they are BUT in this case it has nothing to do with it.
In Bench Press or Overhead Press we have the same issue as in squats again. Having to move weight 15 or 20 cm further with more torque needed is obviously super heavy. Hence the world strongest benchers are rarely over 1,90m. Athletes like Fredrik Smulter or Carl Yngvar Christensen are well below that and hence have a great ratio for bench and squat.
But here is the thing: Should tall people get demotivated by this? FUCK NO! Should tall people hide behind the fact that their body size makes it “somewhat harder”? FUCK NO! Instead we need to work twice as hard on conditioning and especially mobility. Because what holds us back is not our strength but the mobility. As a tall person you need more of it than a smaller guy / gal. My friend Morten who I used to lift with a lot is a good example. He is built like a square brick, insane squat power, legs and arms like trees. I rarely see him stretch and never see him do mobility. He basically does a quick warm up, grabs the bar and performs insane feats of strength just like that. Meanwhile I am busy with my 15 minute warmup and stretching routine and do the same after the workout, sometimes longer. But if I would not do that I could not perform any compounds at all because I would not be mobile enough. And even so I have to fight hard to climb up in weight, get rid of the butt wink and hip tilt in squats and so on.
So, in a nutshell I claim: Tall people have to put in more work ASIDE from the actual lifting to become equally strong as shorter people on most compound movements. But quitting or hiding behind the fact that one is tall is absolutely not an option if you want to progress and get stronger. Put in the work, get results. Go hard or go home, easy as that.
Shut up and lift!
Catch ya later,