T Nation

Height Transferring Into Bench


I always have this argument with people (mainly because i'm 6'4 lol) Anyway here it goes..... Does a smaller person (lets say lee priest-type-build) have an easier time benching than a person above 6'2 ? Like, if you think about it the distance from my lowest point to my highest point is a lot farther distance to push the weight up than a smaller person. Or is it all relative a.k.a a bigger guy has farther to go but more power to do so? just wondwerin, thanks guys.


Only if the shorter guy has shorter arms. It really depends on your leverages.

I'm only 5'4" but I have long arms (like many of the tall guys), and my bench is nothing great because of that. But I have a friend who is an inch taller with short, thick arms and he benched 391 at 148lbs in the teen class (18-19) while in college. He can still bench a shitload even though he no longer benches or powerlifts (He competes in Olympic lifting now).

So it's not overall height that is the issue, it's the length of the limbs!


Height isn't as critical as wingspan. I guess people assume the two are the same since most tall people have long arms. However, you look at a guy like Allen Iverson who is 6'1" but has a wingpsan of I believe 6'8" and you can see how he'd have as much trouble on the bench as someone 7" taller.

I personally don't think it's all relative. A person with shorter arms and is well built will have an easier time on the bench than someone like you or I. Same as we'd have more leverage in deadlifts than a shorter person would. Just my humble opinion.


I think that the idea of the bar having to travel farther is crap, with an exception I'll mention. If proportions stay the same, then the taller person given a proportional amount of muscle would bench proportionally more. In fact, a taller person with a high sticking point would actually have more time to accelerate the bar at the bottom.

NOW, most differences in height occur in the arms and legs. Ed Coan for example is 5-6 but he's said that sitting down he's as tall as a 6 footer also sitting down. The main differences in peoples height is determined by when the long bones of the legs stop growing-and the arms tend to follow. Since arm bones grow at the distal (far away) end, the muscular attachments (applied torque) are locked in rather early while the resistance torque may continue to rise as one grows.

Also, I am 5-8 with rather short arms, yet for a maximal bench, I have my index fingers on the power rings which is the widest legal grip. It seems about perfect for me. If I were 6-4, I'd certainly want to grip the bar another hands width out.


I am 6' 4 1/4" tall and I have a wingpsan of 6' 8".

I can not bench press much at all.

The gym I workout at has fixed vertical bar rack supports. When I bench I can take the bar higher than the top of the vertical bar supports.


A person with shorter arms is doing less work. That's all. There are too many other factors involved to determine if the shorter person has an "easier time" benching. All of the replies above hit on this.


For the record, AI is not 6' 1". As far as the original question, I concurr with Nate Dogg and others that is has more to do with leverages. While yes favorable leverages might help you, in the long run it comes down to of course, work ethic.


Ok, so his official roster says he's 6'0" not 6'1", that doesn't really change my point which is that his wingspan is much greater than his height. Yes, I agree with you that work ethic overcomes leverage deficiencies in an exercise, but only to a point.

I would think that like any other sport, a certain build lends itself better to powerlifting (the extreme example of lifting weights) in much the same way a stout, wide-bodied endomorph would probably make a good offensive guard or defensive tackle in football - most certainly better than an ectomorph.


isnt the top bencher in the world 6-foot-1, gene rychlak???

best raw in the world scott mendelson 771 raw
6?1? 320lb with a sixpack.

suck it up and train!


haha i know i know i trian hard don't worry, I was just curious. Thanks for the explanations guys, makes sense!


Where's your picture? Why would you post this here?
(btw, I have seen your pictures, great job!)


I know that Clyde from the Any Which Way... movies can bench 400+ lbs. Very short with long limbs....but I don't think that is typical among us "bipedals".

I agree with Nate.



Actually that's 715 raw, not 771.


I hear a lot of people say "I'm tall, so I'm not good at bench". You aren't good at bench because you are weak.

While leverage comes into it, I think putting an ass-load of effort in the gym comes into it a lot more.

Suck it up, Nancies, and hit the gym.


Bear with me for a second while I ponder this question...if shorter levers made it easier to lift heavy weights, wouldn't powerlifting be dominated by midgets?



Gene's not a good example unless your tall ass is willing to grow a gut that large to shorten your ROM. (no disrespect to gene)

I am commited to having a good bench but I dont imagine that two people at say 191 lbs. one being over six foot and the other being 5'5" all things being equal. that the shorter guy is gonna always bench more.

If people know this is not the case then let me know because I have never seen longer limbed lifters out perform their shorter limbed same weight counterparts.


there are midgets (is that the term they prefer to be called?) in PL one gentlemen is from Poland I beleive and was on the cover of PLUSA not to long ago.

They dont dominate the sport for several reasons, firstly they are limmited to the lighter weight classes, there are not that many of them and of their population its not like they are all running out to become PLers. I think the guys name is Andrzej Stanaszek.

Short levers, shorter ROM, bigger lifts its basic physics, from what I have been told. If someone knows other wise I would like to hear the explanation.


You beat me to the midget question, so I'll bring up another point.

What if humans were to continue to grow in every aspect (just bigger overall, proportionately)?

Would they continue to get 'weaker' in bench press?

Nations that are known for producing larger people are also known for producing stronger people.

If someone were to get to a monstrous 20' tall and his body grew proportionately in every other possible way, I would think that would be a stronger SOB, in any lift.

On the flip side of this, if a person were to shrink, some how, would they continue to get stronger in benching?

I do think lb for lb the shorter guys have an advantage, but for overall weight, I would say the larger person should be able to push more weight.


If exactly proportional, then they would be stronger. Imagine a static hold in bench press, and an 8x proportional weight increase (double in height). Muscle cross-section is 4x larger (maximum force output is approximately proportional to cross-section). Limb length is double, but tendon attachment is also twice as far from the pivots, so the leverage is unchanged. So at least for the simple case of a static hold, a person 8 times heavier would be 4 times stronger, and a person twice the size would be about 1.6 times stronger.

Of course, tall people are generally not built like short people. Even if a bigger person were shaped exactly like a smaller person, the bigger person would require a larger proportion of bone mass for equivalent support - a fifty foot man exactly proportional to a normal six foot man would collapse under his own weight.


I would think hand size would be a problem for grip.

What about someone short enough to stand up while gripping the weight on the floor? Does that count as a deadlift, or do the rules state that the weight must leave the floor? Anyway, the deadlift could be reduced to a sort of hip-shrug.