T Nation

Building Muscle When Being Tall


#1

Hey CT, Im 6'2 205, lean but not ripped and I read in one of your articles that you said shorter and more stockier people can build a good body with just the basic compound lifts but taller people should incorporate unilateral movements as well in order to build a good body. Could you clarify this for me a bit and give me a few tips. Thanks!


#2

Id like to know too because im 6’4 225 and just cant seem to fill out my frame like shorter more stocky guys. Is there something us taller guys should be doing different?


#3

[quote]Distortia wrote:
Hey CT, Im 6’2 205, lean but not ripped and I read in one of your articles that you said shorter and more stockier people can build a good body with just the basic compound lifts but taller people should incorporate unilateral movements as well in order to build a good body. Could you clarify this for me a bit and give me a few tips. Thanks![/quote]

  1. Being tall, especially if you have long limbs, will simply require more time to build the amount of muscle necessary to look large. I normally use 5lbs per inch as a visual correspondence key. So for example if you are 6’2" and 205 you will look as muscular as someone who is 5’8" and 175lbs at a similar level of body fat. Let’s say that you’d like to look as muscular as someone who is 5’8" and 210lbs and has the same level of body fat that you have you will have to build up to around 230-240lbs. BTW that doesn’t mean that a 6’2" 235lbs guy and a 5’8" 210lbs guy have the same amount of muscle…it just means that to look as “jacked” as the shorter guy you will have to carry more muscle. The 235lbs one has more muscle.

So it’s not so much that it’s harder to build muscle when you are tall, but rather that you have to add a boatload more muscle than someone who is short to look equally as impressive. AND you also have to carry more muscle to be as strong because of longer levers.

Let’s say that a normal, non-beginner, natural lifter can add 10-15lbs of muscle per year (that amount of pure muscle is actually VERY good over a year… you can gain more WEIGHT, but 10-15lbs of muscle is A LOT for a non-beginner… Sadly this means that it might take you 2 or even 3 more years to “look as jacked” as someone who is short since you’ll have to build 30lbs of muscle more than he does to look impressive. YES that sucks. BUT once someone tall is jacked he looks all the more impressive.

  1. People who are shorter, especially those with shorter limbs more easily fill up their frame mostly because it’s easier for them to make their limbs look thick. In the photo I have attached I was at my most muscular… my arm was actually only 17.75" even though it looks to be about 20". That’s because I have very short arms and it’s easy for me to make them look full. Someone with a long arm will almost look skinny at 17.75". For that reason long limbed individuals require more isolation work for their limbs to get impressive arms/legs. On the other hand they more easily develop their back and chest. For example one of my crossfit athlete, Alex Vigneault is 200 on 6’1" with long limbs. His arms and legs look MUCH smaller than mine even though they are the same size. But his chest and back almost look retarded.

So if you have long limbs and are after a jacked build you will need more isolation work for the arms and legs (you should still do the big basics) than shorter limbed guys.

Unilateral work FOR THE LIMBS also seem to give better results to long limbed individuals but it’s not a magic bullet.


#4

[quote]seank22 wrote:
Id like to know too because im 6’4 225 and just cant seem to fill out my frame like shorter more stocky guys. Is there something us taller guys should be doing different?[/quote]

Taking the same formula, at 6’4" you’ll have to be 245-250 to have the same type of look as someone who is 5’8" 210lbs. Should you be doing anything different? Yeah you should be more patient because you have 40 more pounds of muscle to build to build up to the same level. YES it sucks but there are more pros than cons to being tall, us shorter guys can have some advantages.


#5

Thanks CT! Whats your recommendation on frequency?


#6

Hey CT,

As a 6’8er I have some questions too.

  1. As overall strength, not necesseraly lifting oriented, are tall guys weaker, stronger or equally strong as shorter guys. I’ve seen taller athletes that may look almost skinny who seem to have unbelieveable strength like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jon Jones. On the flip side I see enough stocky guys with a low COG who seem untouchable.

  2. More of a comment than a question: I feel there are “tall” guys and “big” guys. Some of my friends are almost my height, maybe 3 or 4 inches smaller, but seem like sticks next too me. I’m anything but jacked at 250, yet I’m just build different. As an example: My shoulders are not muscular at all, I can feel the joint with my fingers (not proud of that), yet I have broad shoulders, just structurally. Just like my chest won’t be small just because my rib cage is larger.

Most people don’t really look shorter then me when we stand in front of a mirror together, they just seem proportionally smaller.

Just something I noticed and hope to get your opinion about.


#7

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
Hey CT,

As a 6’8er I have some questions too.

  1. As overall strength, not necesseraly lifting oriented, are tall guys weaker, stronger or equally strong as shorter guys. I’ve seen taller athletes that may look almost skinny who seem to have unbelieveable strength like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jon Jones. On the flip side I see enough stocky guys with a low COG who seem untouchable.

  2. More of a comment than a question: I feel there are “tall” guys and “big” guys. Some of my friends are almost my height, maybe 3 or 4 inches smaller, but seem like sticks next too me. I’m anything but jacked at 250, yet I’m just build different. As an example: My shoulders are not muscular at all, I can feel the joint with my fingers (not proud of that), yet I have broad shoulders, just structurally. Just like my chest won’t be small just because my rib cage is larger.

Most people don’t really look shorter then me when we stand in front of a mirror together, they just seem proportionally smaller.

Just something I noticed and hope to get your opinion about.
[/quote]

That is a good point. I remember my old mentor tell me something about big NFL players. He said that they were “oversized normal humans” meaning that they kept the same proportions as shorter people but where just on a larger frame. This is different than “tall people” who seem “elongated”. The later do not seem as large because proportionally their width and thickness isn’t in line with their length. “Tall/elongated people” also seem to have less coordination and body control which means that they sometimes look clumsy and don’t normally make good overall athletes while “oversized normal humans” can have the same agility and body control as shorter folks.

I believe that the “oversized normal humans” have the potential to be much stronger than “normal people”… look at the top strongmen for example… Hafthor Bjornsson and Brian Shaw for example. Both are 6’9" and are now over 400lbs. But they used to be much lighter during their basketball day but were still strong. Once they added muscle to their frame they became the strongest in the world.

Another example is Wilt Chamberlain who could deadlift humongeous weights (although tall people with very long arms tend to be naturally good deadlifters). Lebron James and many other NBA players also fall in that category.

But yeah, I believe there is a difference between “large people” and “tall people”. The former tend to have the potential to be stronger and also have much better coordination than “tall people”.


#8

[quote]seank22 wrote:
Thanks CT! Whats your recommendation on frequency?[/quote]

The same as for everybody else.


#9

Very helpfull inshight! Awesome to hear there is someone with genuine knowledge who also noticed this phenomen.

I see what you mean, elongated guys tend to have limbs to long for their prioception and control. Also their COG seems to be high for them to be comfortable with it.
I had loads of trouble with this until 4/5 years ago (when I started to feel comfortable enough in my body to take up sports seriously).
I grew fast as a boy. What you think is fast, and then 2 times that. There were months I grew over 2 inches a month (BTW fat kid). Sports were practicly out of question because my prioception and motor control didn’t catch with my limb lenght. After I was operated at 11, the growth came to a stop, and puberty began setting in, muscle started building and I slowly became more agile and fit.

As a kid I was more of a fat giraffe hahaha


#10

Lol I feel you on the tall/elongated stuff, being 6"3-6"4 and even after adding 40lb of muscle from day 0 (40months ago) you don’t see much difference with clothes on. I went from smalll M to not too large L lol.

And the rate of adding muscle is so slow past noob gains I might look jacked in 15 years… Maybe

Coordination sucks too aha, definitely