T Nation

Basis for Certain Lifts for Certain Heights


I have read a few things about front squats being better for tall people than back squats, and tall people being better at deads than short people. My question is... Is there any basis to this argument, and if so, what is the height cutoff for "tall" people? Maybe it's a dumb question, but I admit that I do not know. Thanks.


I once came upon this fringe strength standard table which listed several lifts as good,bad etc. relative to bodyweight. It included a mention that those 6'3 tall and taller are allowed to get away with lifting 10% less,and I think 6'7 or so (not sure) could lift 20% less for the same grade.

The only time when a shorter lifter could be at a disavantage is when his/her armspan exceeds that of the taller lifter, in the case of the bench and such. A large armspan/long arms relative to the torso are ideal for the deadlift,so a short person with monkey arms will rule.
The squat is said to be the lift least affected by proportions and height. The conclusion is based on studying of the result increments in the various weight classes.


The basic disadvantage of height is the distance the bar has to travel.

If work = force x distance,

taller people have to perform more work to lock out.


Most variation in height comes from leg length. So a tall person (I'm thinking 6'5"+) with long femurs and a relatively short torso (compared to the femur) will have to lean the trunk extremely far forward when back squatting in order to keep the load over the center of gravity. In order to squat correctly, the knees will also have to go way over the toes. This is usually limited by flexibility of the ankle joint, and results in sore knees and sore backs.

Placing the load on the front of the shoulders, as in a front squat, is advantageous because it eliminates the extreme torque on the lumbar spine that is seen with the back squat in taller athletes.