Being tall has its advantages, especially when it comes to reaching things off high shelves, but it isn't always beneficial. In the gym, for example, you may have trouble with certain exercises, as longer limbs can make balance and stabilization difficult. You don't have to stick to conventional exercises if they don't suit your frame; instead, look to different variations that work better for people on the taller side.
Balance and coordination can be much harder when you're tall, so don't be afraid to regress exercises when starting out, advises coach Mike Robertson of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training. Start with simple moves such as body-weight squats and lunges, pushups and pullups. Being tall you'll have further to move on all these exercises than a shorter person, so master the techniques on these before moving on to more challenging moves.
Change the way you squat and deadlift to suit your size. Tall people squat differently, notes strength coach Dr. Mark McKean in an interview with Nick Tumminello of Performance University. Tall women tend to alter their knee angles more, while men change their hip position. This means you may be better suited to box squats, where you place a box or weight bench behind you, squat down to the box and pause for one to two seconds before standing up again. As for deadlifts, switch to sumo deadlifts with a wide stance, advises strength coach Jordan Syatt. This reduces your range of motion and ensures that your knees don't get in the way of your pull.
A long torso and arms can make your upper body look small and lack width. Trainer Lee Boyce recommends concentrating on building up your shoulders and neck muscles with dumbbell cleans and overhead presses. Add in extra back exercises such as pullups, pulldowns and rows to increase the size of your lat and rhomboid muscles and make you appear wider.
No matter what your height, you should still include all the basic movements in your training -- squatting movements, hip hinges such as the deadlift or kettlebell swing and upper-body pushes and pulls. It may just be the case you need to experiment to find what works for you. Core training is important, too. A discussion in a 2010 edition of the "Arthritis Care and Research Journal" found that being tall was a predictor for back surgery. Add one or two core movements such as planks, rollouts, curlups or side bridges into each training session to strengthen your core and reduce your risk of lower-back injury.
- Robertson Training Systems: Training the Tall Athlete
- Nick Tumminello: The New Science on Squatting and the TRUTH About Assessing and Teaching the Squat – Interview w/ Dr.Mark McKean
- Syatt Fitness: Sumo & Conventional Deadlifting: An Overview of Technique, Programming, and Individual Weaknesses
- Men's Fitness: 5 Ways to Look Bigger Than You Really Are
- Arthritis Care and Research Journal: Are Tall People at Higher Risk of Low Back Pain Surgery? A Discussion on the Results of a Multipurpose Cohort.
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