T Nation

Disproportionate Legs & Upper Body


First of all, I'd like to apologize for asking this frequently asked question. I've given my fair share of advice to shut up and eat and keep lifting, and am aware that I'm probably too skinny to really worry about stuff like this at my current weight. That said, I probably just need one of the bigger guys here to yell at me and tell me to shut up and eat.

Now, I am taking my own advice and am nowhere done gaining weight, so I suppose I just wanted to ask for a little direction and some input from the more experienced guys here, even if it echos what I already know.

I've made a great deal of progress recently, although most of it was from muscle memory from years past. I was lucky to find T-Nation when I first began lifting so I've always focused on the big lifts and made it a task to either dl or squat every time I'm in the gym. I'm currently at the highest weight I've ever been - 175, which, like I said, I am aware is nowhere where I should be quite yet at 5'11''. However, it is a milestone for me, who started at 135#.

Now for the question. My next goal is 200 pounds, which I hope to achieve by the end of the year. I'm currently looking at myself in the mirror and I notice that I've always had an easier time with my lower body than my upper body. I'm not complaining that my legs can't fit into my jeans or dress pants anymore. In fact, I think it quite humorous that when I go shopping for a new suit that I can't bend over in the matching pants to the jacket that is still a little loose on my back.

What I am getting at, is that my thighs are right now 27 inches; not really huge, but I notice a lot bigger than most of the people here at my weight. Not to mention my ass is huge. However, my arms are only 14.5 inches; quite tiny. I'm afraid that if I continue with my current regimen, by the time I hit 200, my legs will be way out of proportion - not necessarily bad for strength, but not that pleasing aesthetically either.

So, in the next few months, should I keep squatting and doing my RDLs or back off on them? I'm doing the BBB program right now and so am hitting the chest, back, and arms with a lot of frequency and intensity and have made a lot of progress strength-wise all around, so it's not like I've stopped progressing or neglecting exercising my upper body.

My lifts, as of last month when I tried to do some measuring of progress are as follows:
Squat: 325x2
DL: 380x1
Bench: 235x1
Overhead Press: 135x10
Pullups: 11xbodyweight

Thanks for indulging my noob question of the year.


Two points.

1) I'm not sure what the Better Business Bureau program is, but if it's written by a reputable coach, do it as written. There's a reason it's written that way, chances are it's got several success stories, and while by now you can probably make an educated guess as to what the most intelligent tweaks you could make would be, why not take the safe route and do what everyone else has done to get the results they got?

2) If your body starts to get disproportionate, it'll start playing catch-up (holding up progress on the arms, waiting for the back and legs to catch up, usually). If you're still making progress, this probably hasn't happened yet. So while maybe it would look more aesthetically pleasing to swing by your neighborhood gym for a pair of gunz... I dunno man, I kinda like the T-rex look I got going on. That's probably just me though.

Bonus point
3) I don't know what happened in November three years ago, but it gave me a slight edge on you. Legs = 28", arms = 15", Squat = 375, DL = 405, bench = 245, etc. I'm cutting now, and probably will be until x-mas. If you're still alive then, we should race to see who gets bigger lifts, faster.


Wait a minute. You've been here for three years, you've got decent lifts, and you're asking a question about symmetry. Why didn't you post this in the Bodybuilding forum?


I've also got this "problem".

My glutes, hams, quads, and calves respond very well to lifting and grow much faster than the rest of my body.

My lifts are proportionately similar to yours.

I'm 5'7, 173 lbs

Squat: 365 x 3 (ATG)
Bench: 245 x 5

The strength is actually proportionate, but the size isn't.

Eventually I just came to the conclusion that I don't need to train legs as often. I have a leg day once a week.


I was always thinking about one thing. All guys here always talk about "squats & milk", or 'deadlift the great'. Yes, both great exercises, but from this reason, right now we have problems like this. Fast mass gains (probably from deads & squads) at newbie time and upper body are far, far away... and newbie gains are ending. I dunno, I hope that I'm wrong, but I think that some people here should consider giving advices like 'squats & milk' for every beginner here, especially when they simple disappear after that one simple advice.

Ok, end of my whining.

It's GREAT that U didn't stop at visible abz at 150 overall mass level. Definitely U should post your question in bodybuilding forum, definitely! more advanced guys better advice.

my opinion, I hope that helpful...

I know that shoulders aren't lower body, but I was always thinking that I've got them bigger than everything else. That's probably truth, because I can do much heavier things on shoulders then on arms, sometimes even chest.

I thought that the best thing that I can do is to stop training for a while my shoulders. That was obviously bad idea. So all I did [thanks bro!] was to remove shoulders training and add all exercises at the end of chest training.

Right now it looks like that:
My main training is chest, arms, back. I deleted shoulders day and I add exercises for that part after chest training. When my arms are very tired after chest training, I do shoulders exercises. Of course weights are much lighter then before but still all of weight goes in shoulders (because I have tired arms and other muscles). So my main exercises goes up, my shoulders still train but with less weight and don't fucked up other exercises. I really feel that all my body grows, while shoulders are obviously in shape, but in right place too.

I dunno, U have lower body problem, I had shoulder problem, but I think that removing lower body day is a good idea. What about adding dead after chest training and adding squat after arms training (just for example guys)etc. Your upper will be main in your training, lower body will grow anyway but in right order and you'll have lower body day empty, so U can hit general upper body training in that day for example (probably second time in week), or just rest and eat. that's just my opinion.

Good luck!


The question you should ask yourself is - does my lower body training hold back my upper body training? If so, cut the lower body stuff. After all, recovery, nutrition, time spend in the gym - it's all limited. However, if you feel you upper-body training/recovery is already the best it can be, why would you limit your lower-body training deliberately?


What is the BBB program? Anyway your lifts look nice - how come you state the big three as singles/doubles and OHP and pull-ups at high reps? Anyway your proportions seem quite natural to me - I'm doing the exact same type of lifts and my proportions are the same as yours, just smaller all around. It's easy to give the illusion of having big arms by not training your lower body, but who wants that Johnny Bravo look anyway?

It's like six pack abs and the metro sexual man - it's just a fad for men who don't want to put in the effort. Deep down in every woman is a desire for oak tree legs - I know this by the looks I get, or maybe it's the confidence that comes with training the big lifts and not looking yourself in the mirror while doing reverse cable lateral pull-downs. The muscles in your lower body have greater growth potential than the muscles in the upper body, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't expect upper body development but it will always be less than the lower body.


because having a huge ass without traps that can follow is not esthetic


Once you reach a certain level, you will invariably have areas that respond better than others. This is usually due to genetics, and the fact that most people use the same frequency and loading parameters for their entire body.

I would play with your frequency somewhat (I always liked chest-back, legs, shoulders-arms every 5 days) but really, I think the issue is primarily that you are still on the small side. Stick with the basics, press, row, chin and dip your arse off, do some direct arm work and eat to hit 200 pounds.

Once you reach that point, you should have enough of a base that you can start tweaking.

  • Bryan


Oh, you obviously must have seen that ass. Because I doubt one can have a HUGE ass when 5'11 and 175lbs.


I agree :wink: but I was speaking in general terms, if someone cuts lower body training volume, he must have a good reason.


I'm 5'11 and 165lbs and my ass i huuge. But then again I've got anterior pelvic tilt. Genetics must play role too. My calves were body builder sized even before i started working out.


Yes, of course...


I wanna see a picture.






Haha, douchebags =p. Nevermind, I'm just going to keep lifting; forget I even asked anything.

Oh, as for everyone asking about the BBB thing, just do a search on T-Nation. All the cool cats are doing it these days.

And Otep, you are on.


i got 2 cents worth, focus on increasing your shoulder press and lay off the chest strength. also, work towards a one arm pull up (for reps), and round out your strength. you can also coast (in my opinion) on legs a bit, maybe try incorporating different thing (like kettlebells, one legged squats, splits) and reevaluate later


Hah you think that's bad, my squat and dead are better than yours, but i've never benched 200.

I'm gonna go cry now.