T Nation

Taller athletes

Coach Davies and coach Staley,if at all possible could you list any modifications or differences that you use (if any) for taller(6’2"-7’0") athletes i.e. reduced range of motion or any specific areas of attention. Any information you can provide is greatly appreciated.

The key term you mentioned is “athlete”. My goal of a taller athlete is like any other - to perform better in competition. I used to train a 7’4 basketball player amongst a great deal of athletes above 6’6 so I have a fair amount of experience with this as well. Give me an idea on what you are using this for and I can hopefully narrow it down for you. In faith, Coach Davies

Coach Davies, first I would like to thank you for your response. I should have been clearer in the post. Mine main objective is to find out if there are differences in the way you would train taller athletes as far as injury prevention and strength training i.e. limiting range of motion on exercises such as the bench press. I am 6’6" tall with a 39" sleeve. Right now I am in the process of shedding a large amount of bodyfat similar to the lineman on the intesity magazine site. At the same time am I tryingto retain as much muscle mass as possible. I am currently 370 (lean at about 270-280) after years of bulking up,started at 210. Unfortunately, during this time I neglected all other aspects of training, but inspired buy articles such as yours, I have altered this pattern. My main problem in training is that my strength gains (training poundages) have never matched my mass gains. Although I do not think weight room weights reflect directly to performance in sports(in my case basketball). Even at 210# I could usually out power guys who could bench or squat twice as much as I could. Sorry to go off on such a tangent. Basically I have incurred many weightlifting injuries over the years despite “textbook” form and am curious if in your opinion other athletes my height or taller need special adjustments to avoid injury with standard exercises as I have read in other sources. Also I seem to overtrain very easy with weights(getting weaker with more than 4 weight workouts per week). As an aside, I have been skipping rope since I was 14 (29 now) when I saw Rocky 4. I started for conditioning purposes(used to jump for 2 1/2 hours per workout) but over the years have realized that even at my current weight that all the rope jumping I have done has let me out quick opponents in the “box” of play that could kill my 40 time. It also helped to make me as cooridinated as men a foot shorter than me. Thank you for shedding light on this subject and exposing other athletes especially young, slow, uncoordinated ones like I was when I started playing sports(13 years old) to the incredible benefits of rope jumping. It totally changed my athletic career. Sorry for rambling I am just very impressed with your methods and practices which have confirmed some of my own. Thank you for your time.

Great to hear of your success and I am honored by your kind words. You get into an interesting topic of force production in bigger athletes that is a topic that is rarely discussed. Without question, the athletic training of an athlete who is blessed with great size takes on different light. I don’t want to make this it a boring book response for you because this is a complex topic but I divide range of motions (within the weight room) into sectors of movement. Quite obviously that range is much greater in cases like yourself. However it really relates to the issue of goals. Correct me if I am wrong but you wish to reduce your bodyweight by approx 90 lbs (please elaborate), while maintaining your muscular strength. I look forward to hearing from you again. In faith, Coach Davies

E - Do you live in so cal? If so I would like to invite you to train with myself and my training partners on the beach in the soft sand. We are 6’7", 6’10", and 6’5". We get really competitive so I think you would like it.

Coach Davies, thanks again for your response. Dropping the weight while maintaining and/or increasing strength is my current goal. I have worked hard in the weight room for years with only modest poundages to show for it i.e. 240# full range bench press. However outside the weight room my functional strength seems to be much greater. For example, at eighteen years of age I worked in a department store.At 210# (a stick) I was able to pick up (by straps) four weight set of about 120# each and carry them off a truck with no problem. But now even at my current bodyweight my full range deadlift with a barbell is only 355# It also seems as if full range motions such as full squats put longer levers at a more precarious position for joint health. For example, if a person with average limb length uses a cambered bar on the bench press the range of motion can be extreme and cause tissue other than muscle to stretch or tear. I wonder if “normal” range exercise can have the same effect on longer limbs. A perfect example is Shaquille O’neal who probably does not shock the world with his training weights but, is no doubt one of the strongest players ever.Forgive me for rambling on again I hope I was clear enough in my goals. One last question do you think a renegade program is feasible for someone with a 40-60 a week job or are they intended for full time athletes. Thanks again.

D end, thanks for the invitation, but I live near Philly. I am interested though in how you train I am by far the tallest guy at my gym and really don't have a chance to see how other taller guys train. Do you find so called "normal" exercises difficult? Any special tricks or techniques that you use? Thanks.

As I noted there are some very particular issues with bigger athletes in the weight room. And if you think you have some problems, you can only imagine that of one athlete I trained who is 7’4. It should be noted that all training needs to have personal modification to it. Specifically, what are your weight loss goals. Hope to see you in Philly sometime soon - I should be there in the next month. In faith, Coach Davies

bench press doesnt get along w/ me well at all. i am 6’4… squatting and snatches are however making working out ok. But i do agree w/ the sentiment that taller guys putting up somewhat smaller poundages are still generally “stronger” than their smaller peers.

Coach Davies, I am trying to get down to a lean 285-290. I am taking the wait off slowly(1-3 pounds per week) in order to keep as much muscle mass as possible. In the past when I have cut up I dropped the too fast and ended up losing to much muscle/strength and feeling weak. I can imagine the problems someone 7’4" would have. I read once that Manute bol (approx 7’6") could only bench press 70#. I doubt someone 6’7" would survive in the nba with that type of training weight and I highly doubt that he was weaker than the average woman. The fact that he had to move the weight an unbelievable amount of distance had to play a part. Thanks again.

D man do you do the snatches etc. from the floor or hang position? Power cleans help me to put 50# on my deadlift with out even deadlift. Now,though My knees get sore from the angle needed to pull from the floor.

E, it looks like Coach Davies is being nice here, so I’ll be the bad guy. You aren’t an athlete, you’re a fat guy. A 6’6" 370-pound man is not suited to be a basketball player, period. You need to stop obsessing about training minutia and preserving LBM, and start worrying about DIET and training to lose FAT. That is your priority. Don’t rationalize anything by saying you’re too tall to train right; that’s not it, your training is obviously not up to par. A 240-pound bench is very poor for a man with your size regardless of sleeve length. I hate to be a negative nelly, but maybe you should consider a sport you are more suited for. Either way, the fact that you are in the gym and here means you do care, and that’s the first step. Now please, get on a keto diet (NO COMPLAINTS ABOUT YOUR STRENGTH LEVELS AND LBM!) and start some strength training. Get your bodyfat levels in check, your strength to a reasonable level and then you can start calling yourself an athlete.

I wasnt sure if your question(s) were answered. Within a snatch you will likely need to modify your grip but thats isnt a major concern. You should incorporate the many diverse start positions that multiple joint movements offer. Naturally, if you have any questions, it is my pleasure to help. In faith, Coach Davies

although i am still altering my form a bit and making adjustments, i like to pull from the floor on snatches, or from boxes that elevate it slightly from the floor. For some reason i dont like snatches from the hang, they dont feel right.

Farnsworth, I am curious to know how tall you are. The people who think leverage has nothing to do with exercises such as the bench press, usually are average or shorter. It would be like me saying that being 6’6" doesn’t make it easier to dunk or play the line in football. The reality is that few powerlifters of great signifigance are even over six feet. As far as strength, my point was that training poundages do not directly translate to sports performance. There is a former state champion powerlifter at my gym who can still bench 550 deadlift 600 and who cull pull a rebound or block me in a football game on a bet(he’s 5’5" about 200). Another example is Donovan Bailey, one of the world’s fastest men. He can only bench 205#, half as much as Ben Johnson, yet he competes on the same level.It is like saying Michael Jordans legs are not as strong as Fred(Dr. Squat)Hatfield. I doubt Hatfield ever could jump 48" straight up(Jordans peak vertical). And, I know Jordan never squatted Hatfield’s 1000+ pounds. Who then is stronger? As far as being a basketball player my question wasn’t if I should be a player I already am a player. Unless you have acheived division or pro success I do not need advice on basketball. As for dropping weight it is not exactly rocket science. Put out more than you take in. I was not asking for advice on weight loss. As I stated I have gone down to 210 pounds. The hard part is mainting lbm/strength while losing fat. I did not intend to come across like I feel height is a disadvantage. I was afraid that might happen. Above average height is a distinct advantage in just about everything. I was curious to fin out what if any different methods Coach Davies uses for taller athletes for performance and injury prevention. If you read Charles Staleys article, “Body type and training strategy.”, joint injuries such as knee problems are more common in long levered athletes. Not only my opinion but the opionion of many coaches. I do agree that I have to shed weight(I have a decent bodyfat 10% at about 270-280). It is impossible for you however,to judge my athletic prowess with out ever competing against me. Thank you for input.

Hey E. I agree with Farnsworth to a large extent. As a recreational bodybuilder/strength athlete I benched 230kg (505lb), deadlifted 320kg(705lb) and squatted 310kg(685lb). All in the gym, without wraps or belt, after previous sets at a height of just over 6’4" and a bodyweight of 275lbs. Knuckle down to some hard work mate. Lose the excess fat then worry about bringing your strength back up.

Keith.

Dman thanks for your input this is the type of
discussion I was looking for.

Keith, I never stated that no taller athletes were capable of huge training poundages. My point was that training poundages do not directly reflect an athletes strength, power and performance on the field. Your training poundages prove my point. According to your 685# pound squat, you can squat as much as (one time world’s fastest man)Ben Johnson(fueled on steroids) ergo you should be able to run as fast as he can. If so maybe I have heard of you? Even in other sports i.e. Ultimate Fighting Royce Gracie(185#)was able to crush opponents that not only could lift more than him but looked as if they ate meals bigger than he was. Many pro boxers still don’t train with weights but who can doubt that these guys are strong. Gyms across the country are filled with guys that can outlift many NFL players but can’t translate that into on field performance. The strongest in the weight room are not always the greatest on the field of play otherwise Nike would be selling Air(Anthony)Mason or Air(Charles)Oakley instead of Air Jordans. Charles Barkley never trained with weights until the end of his career. Despite this he used to outplay Karl Malone(a 400#+ bencher)on a routine basis. Training poundages are not even a 100% indicator of muscle mass. How else can you explain that at only two inches taller than you,lifting half the weight that you can, in condition I am the same lean body mass(270-280 at 10%)that you are?

E- you got waaay off topic on the last post. There are many manifestations of “strength.” And just cuz they are both fruits you cant compare apples to orranges.

E- I believe you are way off on your calculations. Are you really 370lbs? You bench 240lbs. Who gives a fuck? Tall guys need to use dumbbells for as much as possible. I am 6’7" 240lbs I have done dumbbells bench with 120lbs in each hand. I hover just under 10% BF. So how is it you think you will be 270lbs and be only 10% BF. NO WAY. Especially if you are as weak as you say. If you think you have been working hard in the weight room you are kidding yourself. And obviously your diet is not conducive to muscle building. So how are you going to burn fat? I suggest a KETO diet also. Simple and works relatively fast. As for taller guys lifting…Concentrate on form and stick to the big lifts only. That means if you are doing curls or tricep pull downs you are a pussy. Those muscle will be worked during your pullups and dips. Most of all I would prescribe a lot of discipline, not just dieting and in the weight room, but make it a habit to always be evolving.

Hi again E. Your initial question was what ‘modifications or differences that you use (if any) for taller(6’2"-7’0") athletes i.e. reduced range of motion or any specific areas of attention’. I don’t think there are as many as you think (particularly at 6’6"). I realise that I am by no way the strongest , or biggest guy out there but I haven’t let my height limit my expectations. You shouldn’t either.

Keith.

My intent of this post was to find out how other tall guys train. Not diet tips and certainly not a pissing contest to see who can
lift more. That being said,

D end I was not looking for how to get down to 10% bodyfat or what I will look ,weigh, when I do. I have been 10% and under several times. As for training weights, I have dumbell pressed the 110’s for reps. My gym only goes up that high(until 11/01,then they are getting heavier ones) Then again I am not sure why you wrote what you can dumbell press. Certainly there are guys that can press 200#ers. Buy no means was I posting my bench press to brag. Just to indicate that in my case training poundages do not reflect the strength, power I have demonstrated in the sports arena.

Keith, I in no way consider my height a limitation, I am 6'6" not 5'0 and did not mean to appear that I did. As for not being one of the strongest guys out there, according to your poundages you are one of the strongest guys in the world(heavier deadlift than Louie Simmons at a lower bodyweight and a bench press damn near Dave Tate, two of America's top powerlifters and heavier powerlifts than some of the World's Strongest Man competitors, aside from the squat)or did I misread the numbers?

Hi E. You’ve rumbled me. Until recently my goal was to compete as a strongman. But I found the lifestyle not to be overly conducive to good health.
As for the numbers my bench is about 90lbs less than Dave Tates, that’s a lot of lbs. I’ve always been a natural at the deadlift, I pulled 220kg my first ever deadlift workout.
Anyhow, my intention wasn’t to be overly antagonistic, and while I agree that we all have different structures, the same basic premises exist for us all. Hard work on the BIG exercises is what counts.
Good luck with your goals.

Keith.