T Nation

Advice for a Tall Lifter


Thanks to the advice from this forum last time I inquired I think I finally have my diet straightened out and Im losing weight and more importantly I feel like Im losing fat and not muscle and Im eating real food not just supps.

My next question:

Im just shy of 6'6" and I just dropped under 240lbs Ive been working out steady for about a year now. I'm happy with my gains Ive been really working on body weight exercises over the last 3 months (Pull-ups,chin-ups,push-ups,dips) and they have greatly improved. On to my question I have been avoiding big compound lifts like squats, dead lifts, and overhead presses because I feel like my form is bad, maybe due to my height and lack of experience, and every time I do them I end up with a sore back. Are these exercises critical enough for someone who is training only for looks (Im not competing in anything right now and have no future plans to) that Im shortchanging myself by not doing them? Is there any other thins that are effective enough to replace them? (Im doing high resistance bike to hit my quads and various rows and pull-ups/pulldowns for my back).

I would appreciate any direction you guys could give



They are not "necessary" as in you won't die if you don't do them. Are they critical? You bet your ass.

Nobody is born knowing the form to the 4 main lifts, you gota learn. On elite they have some great videos titled "so you think you can squat/bench/deadlift"

Also, chins are cool and all, but if you aint doing the big lifts, youre missing out on a whole lotta fun.


Thanks Chris87...wow my name is Chris I was born in 87 and I live in SC too...wierd


Hey dude, I'm 6'9", so I might be able to help.

Fact of life is that it will be a lot harder for you to progress in the weight you can lift. Your leverage's mean that the amount of work you need to do for any given movement is higher. How ever, even though progression on weight used has been slow, body weight gain and hypertrophy should be pretty constant.

What I'm saying is don't let it get you down.

Now, chances are, you'll be pretty naturally amazing at dead lifting. Any chance to use that big frame is great, so my advice would be to use dead lifts to boost your squat. Someone smarter than me will explain how this works, but it does.

Also, eat heaps. Personally, my maintenance calories is about 4200. But I am military so I'm quite active. To gain any mass and strength, you'll need massive amounts of food. Its quite easy to hide any small fat gains on your massive torso.

If I think up anything else. ill let you know. Feel free to PM me.


Thanks so much for the advice.. I have been getting a little down about my bench numbers and I don't flat bench often because Im not good at it..which is bad I know.

Of the 4200 Cal a day how much is protein? I generally shoot for about 200g a day
but I should probably do more..


My son is 6ft 5in (18yo) he squats dls BPs and O/H presses (he's on 531 now but has done these befoere that).
I started him of with bodyweight squat progresssing to db (goblet) squat then front squat and finally proper squat. With tall people I'd say be a form nazi at least for the first year or three.


I think manipulation of bodyweight is important for all athletes, tall ones especially given the difficulty they'll have with external fixed loads and the fact they're heavier means they'll be stronger if they can manipulate their bodyweight easily.

Some better strength building alternatives than barbells would be strongman equipment (sandbags, kegs, stones, thick bars, tires, rack pull, etc.). But since you probably don't have that, don't throw away bodyweight work just because you think you should train the powerlifts. Work on progressions of bodyweight while weight training with barbells.

Try sumo deadlifting instead of conventional or squat variations instead of straight back squat. Just because others build strength in the deadlift doesn't mean you can't build that same strength doing other movements. Just keep that in mind while you find a program that's suited for your build.

EDIT: I'm only 5'10" or so, by the way, but I've trained a few atheltes 6'1-6'5" before, and this is just my experience.


Following this same idea. I think Overhead Pressing really helps to strenghthen your "core" (or in this case the upper half of your posterior chain) which allows you have better form when you squat. Chest high, packed neck, shoulders squeezed down and together, etc... Also, it builds the upper shoulder girdle and gives you a better mantle to rest the bar on while you squat.

It all goes hand in hand.

Put in the effort, keep working, and you'll do great.

PS. Im 6'5"


The problem I have with most standing lifts (dead,overhead,squat) is that I tend to flex my lumbar spine in and my thoracic tends to curve outward. Is this a strength issue? Or purely form?


Let's put it this way... squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses are some of the most basic exercises that all target a big chunk of muscular real estate. Skipping them means you're left using less-than-optimal exercises to achieve your goals.

Your best bet is to make the exercises work for you and either figure out which for tweaks/techniques work best for you or figure out which variations of those basic exercises you can handle.

Check this article for some general tall guy training advice:

Bike riding is not an ideal way to build your legs. The range of motion is too short, so you're doing more harm than good in the long term, and even though you're using "resistance", you're not building actual strength.

Keep working on the basics, but experiment with unilateral leg work (lunges, step-ups, Bulgarian split squats) and dumbbells and machines for upper body work.

Most likely a combination of both. you need to build strength and improve your technique. Nothing wrong with that, since it's where most people are.


Thanks for the article..I read that when I first started lifting but It did me good to read it again..


I'm 6 foot 5 or a little more (2 diff docs gave 2 diff hights!)

Things I'd say is be a for nazi for sq/dead/press and bench.

Sticking points and levers are working against you, learn a way to avoid that. For example, push press may be more helpful than strict press, things like cheat curls can deff help too.

You're going to need to eat LOADS.

Also accept the fact that muscle isn't going to look as big on you, especially arms and legs, sucks but true.

One thing I was told of a BB friend, (6"5 6"6 ish) is getting your lats as wide as possible can help make the torso look less 'long'


This is true. Big traps help take your skinny neck away too. Really, know matter how big you get, your not going to look bulky, so go hard.


Yeah Ive been working traps really hard recently and its made huge changes to my shoulders and neck....I keep hearing that I need to eat alot...can someone give me a basic rundown of just how much?

I eat a lot of chicken and vegetables (except corn and carrots), Eggs (whites and yolks,Low fat Greek Yogurt with berries and granola, Oatmeal, Yams with a little butter and lots of cinnamon,Brown rice and wheat bread on occasion, I drink only water about 3L a day and grapefruit juice. I also use protein shakes and "The Ultimate Meal" meal replacement as between meal snacks.

Also I work a fairly physical job as a stocker in a warehouse (lifting/moving everything from cases of beer to couches)for 5 hrs every morning and I workout at least an hour every day


Note Defranco's hour of power:


Also Switch to Original/full fat greek yogurt and generally avoid modified "low fat" foods


These are, what most consider, the most important exercises. They help you build strength, muscle mass, and so much more. I would suggest putting them into your routine. These will definately help with your looks and they will help with the other exercises as well. Nothing builds quads and your back better than squatting and deadlifting. I'm 6'3" so I understand the height deal. Start off with pretty light weight to get the form down. They'll be harder for you because you're tall, make sure you add your height into the exercise form. Hope this helps.


Whats the reasoning behind getting full fat yogurt? Also that article was for skinny guys...I'm not skinny