T Nation

Genomics

Genetics determines which activities you will naturally excell at.

How does limb length affect the activities you’re incline to excel at?

For example I have long legs, short torso, wide shoulders, thick abs/obliques.

Muscle fiber predominance, insertion points, neurological capability to recruit more motor units simultaneously…are some of the factors that come into play, but limb length is something very interesting. Any input?

Genomics has been discussed in more general terms before here. Search on “genomics” and you should find some good threads. There was also an aritcle in T-Mag from the early days about genomics and athletic ability.

Limb length has been discussed a bit too, but it is just one of the factors involved in determining what you may or may not have an advantage in. Things such as mucsle attachments would affect leverages in conjunction with limb length. “Why Lurch Won’t Grow” covers a lot of this relative to lifting.

While we all may have predispositions, it’s overcoming the predispositions that matters.

Also, I believe you meant to say something more along the lines of “large rib cage” instead of “thick abs/obliques” here:

[quote]"How does limb length affect the activities you’re incline to excel at?

For example I have long legs, short torso, wide shoulders, thick abs/obliques. "[/quote]

No, I dont have a large ribcage.

I have a thick midsection. My BF% is pretty low and I do have a 6 pack, but I’m just pretty thick and strong in my midsection.

limb length has nothing to do with genomics. Genomics is the comparison of different genomes. A genome is an entire sequence of one specific species. You are referring to genetics.

Get it straight.

You can overcome your genetics if you try hard enough. Fat people always use genetics as a cop out, but in truth, they are fuckin lazy and have no discipline.

So what is your real question?

Well then having thick abs/obliques is not an example of limb length.

[quote]
You can overcome your genetics if you try hard enough. [/quote]

You can also take more gear.

Charles Staley has some interesting observations in his article "Body Type and Training Strategy"at http://www.tmag.com/
articles/157body.html

I have long femurs and short torso. I think it is much harder for me to squat than it is for my friends with short little legs. Also, longer levers (i.e. limbs) are going to require greater strength in the spine stabilizers, such as obliques. Maybe you have developed your obliques so much because of this need?

I don’t know if long legs are actually an advantage in squatting. If you have a torso that’s longer in proportion to your legs than another person, you will be more likely to fold, thus requiring a stronger back to squat. Bar placement can only help with this so much.

Should read: “I don’t know if longer legs are actually a disadvantage…”

Thunder, so you overcame your naturally ectomorphic genetics with gear?

MR - When did he say that?

How do you define if your limbs are long or short? I think my legs are on the short side and my arms are on the long side. (Or maybe I’ve de-evolved into a knuckle dragger) I’m 5’7" and my inseam is a 32 and they’re a little long on me.

[quote]
Thunder, so you overcame your naturally ectomorphic genetics with gear? [/quote]

Yeah, when did I say that?

Well said, Thunder.

And genetics is what determines your potential, cancer. Do a bit more reading up on biology, genetics, biochemistry and the like before making such statements that genetics is a thing that can be ‘overcome.’

and limb length has everything to do with a crazy little thing called TORQUE. Force X Lever arm = Torque.
Here is a comparison example:
Man A: Long arm
Man B: Short arm
Both men’s biceps have the exact same amount of strength.
Man B can move more wt in a curl because he has a shorter moment arm. He needs to create less torque to move a given force. The muscle creates the torque via the muscle insertion point and force exertion. this torque is the torque in the Force X Moment Arm = Torque equation. So, for a given amount of strenght in the arm (torque), the man with the shorter moment arm will move more weight (force), Force = Torque/Moment Arm.
That is what joint length has to do with anything…

What we have here is a failure to communicate. I don’t think Colin meant that you could make yourself twelve feet tall or look like Ronnie Coleman necessarily. What I think he’s saying is that we are all different and we all have advantages and disadvantages. Some people put on fat easily, others don’t. Some people will have an initial advantage in certain lifts. He’s saying that some people will have to work harder to reach certain goals, so that is the sense in which he means “overcome”. He can correct me if I’m putting words in his mouth, though.

Also, your example is relatively simplistic, as you said by mentioning that insertion points also play a role. Lots of things play roles in how our bodies operate, and I think Colin would agree with me that longer limbs may be a disadvantage in some circumstances, but you should try to improve nonetheless.

Ben

I wasnt trying to say that improvement is impossible or should not be strived for. I was saying that genetics decides just how much one can improve. In the end, however, genetics decide just how far you can go. It is genetics that ultimately decides how much you can improve. Just like the thread about being lean all the time without trying- genetics.

Now, just cuz i have long ass arms and an immediate disadvantage does not mean i will not bust my ass, sacrifice and give all the blood and sweat i have to get better- it just means that someobody with shorter arms will have an easier time due to the short moment arm.
And as far as insertian points- we are talkin mm or less, which is negligable in comparison to the length of ones limb.
What i was saying is that someone who thinks they can “beat their genetics” is dead wrong. I will always have short muscle bellies in my calves. I cannot change that- but I know ppl who think that they can if they work hard enough. No amount of work in the world will change the muscle belly length in my calf, so i have accepted that I will never have a long calf. That doesnt mean I wont work to have the biggest and strongest calves with short muscle bellies that I can. But the key words there are “I can,” and the “I can” is determined by genetics, as well. It is genetic predisposition that decides how much T will course through your veins, how much protein synthesis will go on in your damaged muscle, etc. Granted, these things can be slightly altered by environment, but not much. Supplement or drug use can essentially take it out of genetics hands, but that is not natural. I cite ronnie coleman as proof. The only reason he “worked passed his genetic potential” is because drugs changed his genetically predetermined biochemistry.

That long winded stuff up there is just a way of saying that genetics is indeed no excuse, but it does indeed play a large role.

Here’s a short bastard’s perspective:

I hate when people say that I have an advantage over them because I have short legs/arms. Everytime I hear someone say that, I cringe.

All my workout partners & most of the guys at the gym are pretty much in the 5’10"-6’2" range. I am the OBVIOUS exception when I workout…at 5’3", so everyone says that whatever weight (greater then their own) that I’m lifting is simply due to the fact that I have shorter limbs.

“Hey, LJ can bench that much becase he only has to move the bar a few inches 'cause his arms are so short.”

“Hey, LJ can squat more then me 'cause his legs are so short, he has less distance to lift the weight!”

Huh?

I also have fewer muscle fibers to recruit for each rep, and less overall body mass to lug around (and thus depriving me of functional strength that can be advantageous in the gym). After all, a 200lb guy who walks around all day should have stronger quads and calves then 150lb me.

Face it…when you are bigger, you SHOULD be naturally stronger then someone smaller. (Up to a point. If your 6’6" or taller, then I guess it might become a disadvantage, unless you have great genetics for muscle mass…like the NBA’s SHAQ vs. one of those wafer-thin 7’ guys.)

In any case, the key here is that we all have NATURAL limitations/pre-dispositions, but the reason we all train in the gym IS TO OVERCOME them.

Bottom line: if you’re legs are weak, work on them more. If your arms/chest/back are holding you back, work on them more. Eat big. Train smart. Repeat process until goal is met. Maintain for life. Enjoy!

Nicely put Little Jay. I am 5’7 and I have had a lot of people taller than me tell me that I am stronger than them because I am shorter and have shorter limbs. It couldn’t have anything to do with me going to the gym and busting my ass and eating right. Bottom line- everyone could make excuses if they wanted to.

Jay
Short doesn?t mean stronger, look at my previous thread about torque. All short means is that you have more of a mechanical advantage due to lever arm length. Nothing more. And just because you are short does not mean you have less muscle fibers. Genetics is what determines muscle fiber volume, and is completely independent of height. Just because a guy is 6 ft doesn?t mean he has more muscle fibers in his quad than a guy who is 5 ft.
And lugging body mass around all day is and endurance activity, not maximal effort.
My pet peeve is that some guys think that if they work hard enough they will look like Coleman. It isn?t going to happen. Genetics is a natural limit, and if you set your goals above that limit, aka “I?m gonna be the next Mr. O” then you are in for a disappointment.
Now, whether most guys will ever actually reach there genetic potential is a debate that still rages, but one thing cannot be argued- genetics is what ultimately decides what your limits are. Genetics decides that you have less muscle fibers to recruit, genetics decides the cross section of your connective tissue, the amount of wear and tear that your knees can put up with before they give out, genetics is what determines muscle belly length, and I could go on for days… Again, whether anyone ever truly reaches their genetic potential is a debate alive and well, but genetic potential is a reality.