T Nation

a little help for the tall guys...

I’ve been training for two years now…I’m 6’5" and I started at 180 lbs (no laughing); now I’m up to 220 w/ around 12% body fat. I’m curious how many of you out there are tall and I’m curious how you deal. Take a bench press, for instance: common knowledge says to take the bar to your chest, but when I attempt that, the pressure and pain on my shoulders is unbearable. I’ve learned to adapt and modify certain excercises for my circumstances, but it would be great if someone out there could give a tall guy some pointers - I just want to make sure I’m doing the right thing…

There was a good thread about the best exercises for taller guys a few weeks ago in this forum. I don’t have the best luck with the search engine sometimes, but I’m sure you can dig it up. Also, I would guess your problem with bench probably has something to do with technique, an injury, or lack of flexibility. I’m 6’3" and I’ve never had any problems taking the bar down to my chest, and I know several people taller than I am who bench press without any problems. I was 140 when I started, and only after 5 years am I up to 180, so I feel your pain bro. Also, did you read the article “Why Lurch won’t Grow?” It’s a good read in T-mag if you haven’t seen it.


My squat numbers suffer a bit and certain lower-body pressing exercises tend to strain my knees. Little else merits attention.

But then, at 6’2", I don’t scrape the sky to quite your degree. Nor am I lanky; my height is biased somewhat to the waist down.


If you have trouble with barbell squats, try doing dumbbell squats and deadlifts(especially deadlifts). Heavy deadlifts with high volume have helped many guys pack on some size.

Mike Mahler

Being 6’5" doesn’t have anything to do with experiencing pain during a bench press. I know guys who are taller than you are who have no problems with the movement. You should get someone to check your form and grip positioning on the bar, as that’s almost undoubtedly what’s causing the problem. If those are okay, you may have rotator cuff issues or something similar that merit being looked at by a sports trainer or ART practitioner.

And yes, check out the article “Why Lurch Won’t Grow.” Lots of good stuff in there.

I would add that your shoulder pain would probably be something else.

I have a friend who is 6’7" and benches over 360 with no problems.

I’m the same height bro i feel your pain. Never has to modify anything really and my reach is 81 inches too so my arms are long. Squats are a little tougher to do them correctly but have patience and always pratice good form. I used to be 190 now im 225 at like 13 or 14% Honestly i think its hard for us but you just gotta train consistant and smart. If you modify some excerises and it works like that then keep it up, otherwise there are a million other excercises im sure you could try for the same body part.


Your proportions are also important. I’m 6’2’’ and some change and wear a 32 inseam. I’ve got short, stubby legs and a long upper body. My stubby legs put on size easily whereas my long arms look just like that - long. :frowning:

I’m 6’5 myself and have gained like 35 pounds in the last 2 years, specifically through this site. As far as gaining strength it just takes time.

I’ve always struggled with squats but I took a step back for a while and did Ian King’s Limping series and now I am stronger. I went from having squat worksets of 200 to 250 in 8 weeks. I went from dl’ing 325 to 400. So strength for tall guys can be gained it just takes some time and the right program for you. NOW, gaining mass well that is a different issue entirely. Mag-10 has helped a great deal, now I want to gove 4 ad-ed a shot for a longer term test. Somedays I hate you short guys with short limbs.

As far as your pain, I agree with the others and don’t think that is a product of your program or particular exercise but a product of your body having a structural problem.

I 6’3" started at 170 in high school got up to 320 by the time I was 30 (strongman competitor so not real lean at that weight, but benched 500).
i found that DB bench helped me a lot, and while squatting was a bit of a bitch, deadlifting was great.
T-mag is an invaluable resource, and as already said you likely have other factors limiting your bench which you should address.
good luck.

i’m 6’5" @270-started @165 a little over a decade ago.

first started making real gains when i started competing in powerlifting-40 lbs my first year.

recently i have realized that i am not built to powerlift, but perfect for strongman! you may not be able to bench, but it sure is a lot easier to get those stones up on the wall with the extra height!

for me competions are the key-you train much harder, making more gains in two months than in a year of normal training-motivation does wonders!

Look into westside. Box squats and benches to the lower chest/upper abs may be in order.

Yeah, I’m in the same boat, minus the shoulder pain. I’m 6’2", but wear a 38 inch dress shirt sleeve. If my arms were any longer I’d be a fucking monkey. I can move the weight and the strength comes, but the size is another issue, but I don’t train for looks, so I guess that’s a good thing! Deadlifting is something I concentrate a lot on, as well as OLY lifts, but they are tough. It’s hard to explosively move weight twice as far as some have to. Squats are nasty, but I’ve adjusted. Overhead presses? Ha. Barbell bench work? It comes, but it takes lots of work and perseverance.

You may need to work harder than the short stubby guy next to you, but in the end, you’ll be the one that the chicks dig. At least that’s what my Mom has always told me.

No excuses. Just lift.