Now, in end of the summer I’m back to you guys. So sorry I disappeared a little bit but too many things happened in my personal life and all of my attention and energy focused for there. Now I’m back and I wanna answer for a big question what I got in the last couple weeks and month by email or in person. How can build up a tall guy that physique what I have.
This article will be more about me and about tall guys who try to play the bodybuilding game. Short guys will never understand the struggles of being a tall “bodybuilder”. They will mock us for our long lanky limbs and make outrageous claims like “strength is all proportionate”, It’s not. Being a 6ft4 guy has taught me a lot over the years. Being tall is not an excuse for being unable to gain muscle, but it definitely does mean we need to train with more purpose than a shorter lifter.
Facts. Being tall has few disadvantages:
- It’s extremely hard to fill out such long limbs to actually make them look like they have good size.
- Our R.O.M. is far greater and our leverage makes it more difficult to generate mass amounts of force.
As a tall lifter, your movements are going to be completely different than your vertically challenged training buddy. We need to manipulate form to allow us to generate more force and our training styles will differ too.
There is a lot of tall lifters in the gym, they train just as hard as anyone yet they always seem to struggle to look like they have put on any decent amount of size for their relentless efforts in the gym. If you look at any of the taller bodybuilders that have made serious gains in the gym over the years you start to notice that they have a lot of similarities in their training methods.
Now there is always the exception to the rules. I’ve seen some taller guys that have short limbs and long torso so they get away with a more conventional training style but few of us are so lucky and we tend to have these extremely long, lanky limbs that just never seem to grow until we realise that training is different for us.
I’ve found that as a taller lifter there are 3 main things we need to do to gain muscle.
- Lift really fucking heavy
- Train with a smarter R.O.M.
- Focus mostly on the big compound lifts
Sounds pretty similar to the way I train short guys too right? I preach heavy lifting for everyone, the compound lifts as a base for all training and good R.O.M, but they are different for taller guys. Its training with purpose.
Short guys, with shorter levers can seem to add muscle quickly. So even when they focus on the isolated movements and chase the pump they appear to just swell up and wack on lean mass quickly.
As a tall guy with long levers, we have so much more muscle needed to be added before you can even see any growth. Perfect example is your quads. Very few tall guys have big sweeping quads. This is because the femur is so freaking long that even though measurement wise you have a “big” quad. It never appears to be as large as someone half your high.
Even look at the biceps, tall guys rarely will have a huge peaked bicep as the muscle is so long. Whereas shorter guy will look like their arm has nearly doubled in size with only weeks’ worth of training (obviously, an over exaggeration but you see my point).
For this reason, it is absolutely vital that tall guys get under some serious weight. Progressive overload (continuous strength progression) is the fastest, most effective and efficient way to add dense muscle mass. wasting time on the isolating muscle groups and performing slow controlled reps with lighter weights is not going to place enough stress on the body to encourage it to grow the muscle necessary to fill out your long lanky frame.
The Range Of Motion
The R.O.M for taller guys is really where we differ from our shorter counterparts. Short guys can just perform a lift without too much thought and they will grow. Taller guys can’t. With our long levers, we lose the tension on the desired muscle groups about ¾ of the way towards the top. Look at pressing movements like the bench press or seated military press.
¾ of the way up the primary movers start to switch off and the triceps take over. What this generally leads to is your triceps failing on the movement well before your chest or shoulders do which are the larger muscle that we really want to be focusing on.
My training methodology is a lot more focused around strength progression rather than time under tension but this is where taller guys need to think of both. I’m not talking about dropping the heavy weight and just doing time and tension training. But underneath that heavy weight, it is going to be seriously beneficial to a taller guy to keep the tension on the muscle group we are predominately focusing on.
For this reason, I encourage taller guys to modify their desired R.O.M to keep the tension where it is needed. So, in a pressing movement like the bench and military press, A taller guy is going to benefit greatly by avoiding full lock out and sticking in the lower ¾ of the movement where the weight and tension is placed of the desired muscles we are trying to hit.
Short guys will give you hell about not using “full range on movement” but that comes from the lack of understanding that lifting is very different for you and your long levers. Squats are another perfect example, most tall guy struggle seriously to hit arse to grass on squats. We can break 90 but can’t sit on our ankles like majority of shorter lifters.
This makes it harder to grow serious quad mass as we never get to the real stretch of the quad in our squats. So, taller guys are often going to see better results doing a hack squat instead where we can bottom the machine out and finally experience the full stretch of the movement.
Be Tall, Get Jacked Principles
Up until this point I’ve talked about a few specific issues with each of the main lifts, but our problems don’t stop there. We can’t curl as much and our shoulder press stinks when compared to shorter guys. So, we need non-lift exclusive training methods to bring up all of our lifts.
- Compound lifts: Always start your training with the big compound lifts. This goes for short guys too but even more so for taller guys. As a tall guy to need to just focus on mass. You need to build as much mass as possible before you can even think about trying to “shape” your physique. Remember, you can’t shape what you don’t have.
- Back training: Another upper body issue that most tall guys face is the lack of overall back size. It’s nearly impossible to do more than 5 or 6 reps of a row or pull-down without starting to feel your forearms and biceps fatiguing before your lats. Again, your force is the same as a short guy, but your distance is double or triple. More work gets put on your forearms sooner than your back. Plus, you have the pleasure of being born with high lat insertions in most cases, and it compounds your problems of filling out your back.
- Cheat more: Going loose on your form from time to time won’t damage a thing. Provided you aren’t trying to be a meathead and just swinging weight, cheating during movements like a curl, where our biceps don’t get as much tension due to arm length, will work well for bringing up those areas.
- Use partials: There’s a difference between us tall guys and the fool that thinks his partial with 405 on the bar in the squat rack is impressive. We’re doing it for a reason. Find where you stick on a movement, say the bottom of the squat, and perform partials at that specific sticking point. Want a bigger VMO? Just load up the bar and do partials on the top of the squat. Want to improve your bench lockout and the long head of your triceps? Do partial dips.
- Take advantage of your shortcomings: A chin-up or a pull-down might not work our lats as much as we want, but they’ll do a lot more damage to our biceps than they would do to a shorter person’s. So, perform more full range of motion chin-ups on back or arm day to target the lower portion of your biceps. Do you need more shoulder width? Take advantage of your seemingly never-ending humerus and ditch the shoulder press (or do partials) and do various forms of side raises.
- Work your knee and ankle flexibility and mobility: I think tall guys, at times, try to escape squatting or leg work in general because they’re so tall, but that isn’t right. Focus on improving your ankle and hip mobility and the flexibility of the main muscles acting on those joints. In this case, we’d focus on our hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors, along with the quadratus lumborum for the hips, and the perennials for our ankles. You’d be surprised how quickly you start feeling better and seeing some improvement in your lower body movements.
- Work hard: I alluded to it in the point above, but there comes a time when the whining about how the short guys look or what you can’t do gets old. You can either settle for being lanky for the rest of your life, or bust your butt to get bigger because a tall and muscular guy gets noticed.