T Nation

Arm Length and Bench, Press etc.


I'm 6'4, 200 with a wingspan somewhere in the 6'8-6'10 range. I've been lifting for about 6 months and I can see changes in the mirror, but my strength gains are extremely slow. Is it simply harder for people with long arms to lift as much weight?


Yeah, progress in the pressing movements isn't going to come quickly for you. What needs to be answered though is if you are lifting for strength or aesthetics? If you're just simply trying to build a bigger chest, then pressing movements don't need to be emphasized and you can simply find exercises that stimulate your pecs the best. But obviously if strength is what you're after, you'll have to keep pressing.

Nail down your technique and find ways to limit the distance the bar has to travel without sacrificing a full range of motion.


Well, I'm trying for both actually, but to be perfectly honest I want to look good naked more than benching 300 lbs.

I've recently begun doing push-ups and I think it is helping my strength. I can only do about 35 right now, but I'm focusing on doing at least 100 every other day. Begun pull up training too, but I can only do 5. Do you think focusing more on body weight stuff to mix things up would help , as I have been doing?


Body weight training is always a plus. Just make sure that you're pulling movements (chin ups, rows, etc) are kept to at least a 2:1 to ratio with your pushing movements so as to not create imbalances that would further impede your pressing strength or create shoulder problems.


yes, longer levers are weaker than short levers. someone with long arms and legs isn't likely to develop a world class squat or bench because the range of motion means they need to do more work in squatting to depth or benching to the chest. some people are built like fireplugs and capable of much greater strength. most freaky bench press i saw was a guy with stubby little arms and a massive arch which meant he didn't have much of a range of motion at all.

shorter guys also look more built with less muscle mass than taller guys. the muscle mass fills them out more. 5 pounds of muscle will always look more impressive on a shorter guy than a taller guy.

on the up side... people with longer arms often find they have a kick ass deadlift. longer arms makes the range of motion shorter for that exercise. we can't change our genes or our levers. can only do the best we can with what we have got.

i do olympic weightlifting. I'm 5'7 and most of the women in my weightclass are around 5'2. I won't be making the olympics anytime soon. Even if i gained the 7 or so kilos to go up a weightclass most of the women are around 5'4. i guess i could aspire to be superheavyweight... fill out my levers that way...


but of course you are capable of much greater feats of strength than you have managed thus far. i just mean that you shouldn't get discouraged when comparing yourself to the progress of others with more of a fireplug build. and you should especially not get discouraged when reading about feats of strength people claim over the internet when they don't have video evidence...


So I need to be doing 100 push ups for every 50 pull ups, or vice versa? Simply can't do many pull ups as of now.


Vice versa, pulling should always outnumber pushing. If not, you end up with the shoulders being pulled forward which not only limits your ability to stimulate your chest and thus strengthen it, but also puts you at a greater risk for injury. Having a stronger upper back and set of lats also gives you a better base to push off of when benching, making the movement more stable and allowing you to increase your press numbers.

I know that you can't do many pulls up, but keep in mind this is all your pulling exercises vs pushing exercises. Do high rep rows, pull downs, etc. while still keeping a focus on your pull ups. Use the search function to find out strategies on how to increase your pull up numbers, there have been quite a few articles written this year alone on how to do so.


Gotcha. On my back/bicep day most of my back exercises are pulling motions so that should even out the push/pull ratio closer to 2:1. Thanks for the tip, I can't afford a shoulder injury, had labrum surgery 10 years ago and its never been the same. Got to get my meniscus repaired or removed n the next few mnths as well:(


And yeah, I've checked out some of the articles, tey were very informative. I'm afraid I'll always be somewhat handcuffed on pullups due to the labrum injury.


Just to say...me too....great looong monkey arms and long legs too.

Great for some things (i used to be a climber !!)..

Not so good for benching, my trainer was stunned first time he had me on the bench as i was almost able to lift the bar past the top of the rack !!.

Totally agree on lots of pulling movements, good way of getting them in is to do a set between every other exercise (active rest) and/or have a pull up bar at home.


Try a supinated grip for your chins. I had my shoulder repaired and can do chins but not pronated pullups.

And Alexus is right. You should be a solid deadlifter with your long arms.


Deadlift. Bench is for laying down and resting.

From another monkey armed lifter.

Seriously though, keep plugging away at your bench. It will likely develop more slowly than pulling movements.

Like Alexus, I'm tall for my weight class and look like the giraffe in the corner but it hasn't really limited progress.