T Nation

Anthropometry and Exercise Selection


Different body types require different approaches. Not drastically different, but enough to make a difference.

So in terms of numbers and ratios, how do body proportions influence exercise selection? In other words, if your clavicle to full height ratio is let's say 0.203, you might select one exercise, whereas if your ratio is 0.195, you might select a different exercise.

How do you select the right exercises for your anthropometry? For instance, squats are a good exercise, but having a trunk longer than your legs makes it tough to squat. What are some other examples?


I usually call this approach douche-workout and dont think highy of it. All the testing you should be doing is not one on the paper but one in the gym, on your self, and then finding what it does to YOU and you'r body by pure cause and effect.


I have to admit, I never get so meticulous in measurements, since I don't intend to go pro. I try out exercises and if they work for me, I keep doing them. I find it difficult to squat as low as I should, but I do like it as a fat burning exercise, so use it as such. I could bench press more with a wider grip, and did when I was younger, but it was hurting my wrists so I pulled in my grip.

I have had a slow metabolism most of my life, so I like exercises that raise that metabolism so I can lose weight.

BTW, when I used to play role playing games, I played a warrior named Kilgore all the way from first level to demi-god status. :wink:


Actually it's the exact opposite. A natural squatter's build is short legs relative to the torso.

A short trunk and long leg is a horrible lever for squatting... well it is a decent lever for the low bar squat, but bad for the Olympic squat. Longer legs/shorter torso makes it much harder to build the quads.

As far as your original question, I am not aware of a single, NOT ONE, very strong or very muscular individual who ever measured his segment to select the proper exercises... EVER. I've never seen any high level strength coach do so either. I think that it is overcomplicating everything or just trying to make it appear more complex (so you look smarter) than it really is.

THAT HAVING BEEN SAID... body type/structure WILL affect exercise selection, but rather indirectly. See, certain body proportions will lead to muscle dominances... for example if you have long legs and a short torso you will tend to build the glutes more than the quads when doing basic leg work. Whereas if you have shorter legs and a longer torso you will build the quads more easily but the glutes will be hard to build.

So these muscles imbalances will create weak points in your lifts and you will have to select assistance exercises to fix those weak points. Thus some of the assistance work you do will be indirectly influenced by your proportions. But measuring proportions to select exercises is not the way to go.


EXACTLY! Very well said.

When I give seminars I often get asked what testing I do with clients. My answer is that I test by watching every single rep they do in the gym and analyzing it. HOW you lift (not just how much, but what your lifting form looks like) gives a helluva lot more clues about your strength and weaknesses than any testing you could do.


I am honestly surprised more coaches don't make this a priority. In a team/university setting with high throughput and limited time I understand, but in a small group, team, or individual setting I really just don't understand why more people don't make it the top concern. Maybe it's just because it comes natural to me as well, I dunno...


I suspect they do as they were taught and don't have the experience or confidence to individualize programs. I know I didn't when I was younger.