T Nation

Special Programming Considerations For Tall, Skinny Lifters


#1

Christian, I absolutely love the programs and content you put out. Because of this, I would like to hear some of your considerations you put in place when programming for tall (over 6’0) skinny lifters? I have read some interesting notes on the topic, but would be very interested about what you had to say.


#2

Well start with your notes and I’ll comment them or add to them, it will be more effective this way.


#3

Sounds great.

  1. The bench press is the first thing that comes to mind. Simply put, should tall, skinny lifters be doing the bench, or substituting this movement with DB Flat Press? Maybe a mixture of both? For me personally, I always felt like the floor press actually worked really well for me, but I’m not quite sure why this is the reason.

  2. Chin-ups are talked about quite often with this population, due to the added work on the biceps it involves. How frequently should these be worked on for those who can only do a few reps with them? I’m trying to develop some type of set-rep scheme that allows for a high frequency, but also don’t want a huge imbalance between pushes and pulls.

  3. I’ve noticed that many people comment on how this population has smaller, weaker legs. Yet for me, legs are by far the strongest. But, I have noticed that my front squat feels a lot better when I get the depth than my back squat does. The same goes for when I see other lifters around this size. Should this population put much more emphasis on the front squat?

  4. I have noticed that a few articles on here talk about how skinny lifters should train at a higher frequency with the BIG lifts. However, much like my point on #1, I also noticed that the squat is the only movement that really seems to produce gains. So, if you designed a program for someone at this population, how often would you have them training per week, and would you still incorporate all of these lifts?

  5. Oly lifts. Simply put, should this population stray away from these from now? Or do you actually see a benefit to inclusion of these into a program?

  6. Arms a huge weak spot for this population, yet many programs often seem to only incorporate only 1-2 arm movements once per week for biceps and triceps. I was thinking that these may need to be trained either twice a week, or just have a full arm day for this population.


#4

[quote=“BecomeGreat, post:3, topic:214834”]
The bench press is the first thing that comes to mind. Simply put, should tall, skinny lifters be doing the bench, or substituting this movement with DB Flat Press? Maybe a mixture of both? For me personally, I always felt like the floor press actually worked really well for me, but I’m not quite sure why this is the reason. [/quote]

There are no obligatory exercises. Do what you feel working well for you. That having been said I know plenty of tall lifter than ended up being pretty decent bench pressers. I wouldn’t call them skinny (they were when they started out) but their mechanics of long arms was certainly a disadvantage in the bench press.

From strictly a muscle-building perspective the DB press might be a better choice, but make sure not to cut your range of motion short just to handle more weight.

The floor press likely works well because It puts your humerus (upper arm) in a better pressing position, whereas because you have long arms and a thin chest, in a full range bench your humerus is pointed down too much, putting you in a very disadvantageous position.

[quote=“BecomeGreat, post:3, topic:214834”]
Chin-ups are talked about quite often with this population, due to the added work on the biceps it involves. How frequently should these be worked on for those who can only do a few reps with them? I’m trying to develop some type of set-rep scheme that allows for a high frequency, but also don’t want a huge imbalance between pushes and pulls. [/quote]

First, you’ll worry about an imbalance between push and pulls when you are not skinny anymore. Start by building the house before worrying if the wall paper of the kitchen blends in well with the color of the table!

Get as strong as you can in the basic movement patterns. Some will develop more easily than others, but right now it is not a problem. Worry about working hard overall and when you are of a much higher development level you’ll work on balancing everything out.

When you are not yet good at pull-ups I recommend doing them every day at the beginning of each workout. Do not go to failure, maintain perfect technique and get 10 solid reps in however sets you require. When you can get 10 solid, non cheated reps in 2 sets or less increase the 20 reps… when you can get 20 in 3 sets or less move to 30. When you can get to 30 in 3 set or less start adding weight.

But focus on perfect form on every rep. Do not go to failure or even to the point where you need to compensate with other muscles or changes in body position.

[quote=“BecomeGreat, post:3, topic:214834”]
I’ve noticed that many people comment on how this population has smaller, weaker legs. Yet for me, legs are by far the strongest. But, I have noticed that my front squat feels a lot better when I get the depth than my back squat does. The same goes for when I see other lifters around this size. Should this population put much more emphasis on the front squat? [/quote]

Yes this Is quite comment I have written numerous times how the front squat is superior to the back squat with tall/long limbed people. There are no mandatory exercises, if the front squat feels better focus on that lift. Do the back squat from time to time to maintain that movement, but focus on the front squat to build your legs.

[quote=“BecomeGreat, post:3, topic:214834”]
I have noticed that a few articles on here talk about how skinny lifters should train at a higher frequency with the BIG lifts. However, much like my point on #1, I also noticed that the squat is the only movement that really seems to produce gains. So, if you designed a program for someone at this population, how often would you have them training per week, and would you still incorporate all of these lifts? [/quote]

Everybody should train at a higher frequency on the big lifts in my opinion. My program design as far as training split is not different with aller individuals. We are all the same species, the main difference is in the selection of exercises.

[quote=“BecomeGreat, post:3, topic:214834”]
Oly lifts. Simply put, should this population stray away from these from now? Or do you actually see a benefit to inclusion of these into a program?[/quote]

I love Olympic lifts and have used them with athletes/clients of all physical types. But if you don’t have access to a coach who can teach you properly I would probably stay away from them.

From a time investment/results ratio it is likely not a great choice, at least not at your level of development.

I wouldn’t do a full arm day. But it is fine to do some direct arm work more frequently, you can easily do some work 3x per week at the end of workouts.

Also… don’t make generalizations that are too broad or inclusive. I’ve known plenty of tall, formerly skinny lifters who did not have the issues you mention. Stop seeing everything as if things will always be harder on you. You can’t control that, just train hard and eat enough to fuel growth (taller lifters often need a greater caloric intake).

One of my friend was 6’3" and 171lbs. Pretty good on the deadlift because he had good levers but poor at benching and squatting. He didn’t make much gains because he wanted to stay super lean. Only when he decided to eat for growth that he progressed… eventually he reached a 800lbs deadlift, 500lbs bench press, 700lbs squat and went as high as 320lbs. I DO NO recommend this approach, while at 230 he looked good when he went to 300 he wasn’ that aesthetic. But the moral of the story is that when he decided to stop blaming his body type and just train hard on the big lifts and eating for serious growth he did progress.