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  1. #1
    Registered User MisterT's Avatar
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    Question Question about workout plans for tall people

    Okay, back in the day, high school and college, I was considered a classic ectomorph. I could eat whatever I wanted, however much I wanted, and whenever I wanted and would not gain a pound. I was the tall skinny guy weighing in at 150 lbs and have my same present height of 6'4. I have done so many different programs focusing on different things. I have done Men's Fitness' Yearlong Workout, workouts for hard gainers (I did the Scrawny to Brawny workout--three phases), ones in Men's Health Magazine, so on and so forth.

    The problem I have today is this: Yes I am a hard gainer when it comes to adding muscle, however, when I increase my caloric intake, I eat really clean, I still gain too much body fat and in terms of muscle, I am staying about the same.

    I have done cycles of strength training, focusing on higher sets, but low reps. I have done the typical 3x10, I have trained doing around 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps. I stick to compound movements, mostly doing full body routines 3 days a week. Recently, I have started a routine where I work one body part one day a week, so a split routine, but doing abs and calves 2 days of the week.

    I read where you should cycle training using various sets and reps. The latest program is in November's FLEX magazine. It has several phases that you can read in my November Blog if you are interested. Basically, you start light, do a lot of reps (20-35) for the pump and lasts 2 weeks. I just finished this and am moving to the next phase which does mostly 4x10, using compound exercises mostly, but doing a split (one body part per week).
    I guess I am trying to find the best routine for someone in my situation. I am tall, but my metabolism has slowed down. I can put on weight pretty easily. I am eating really clean. 35-40% of my diet are carbs, I have around 20-25% fat, and the rest is protein. i am getting at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. My midsection is starting to get more defined, but no 6 pack just yet.

    I have cut out all or most simple sugars, get plenty of fiber, high protein intake, the carbs I take in are complex carbs from whole foods. I do take some supplements, but stick to the tried and true, whey protein, casein protein, creatine monohydrate, etc. I take ON Recovery 2:1:1 as a post workout and Purple Wraath as a preworkout. I will also take some whey protein or eat some whole wheat crackers and sliced swiss cheese for a preworkout meal.

    Question is: What is the ideal workout for a tall bodybuilding? When I see changes in bb.com members, they are usually under 6', so they end up having impressive physiques. I am just wondering if I am wasting my time doing the workout in November Flex magazine doing the different phases. Results come really slow, but as long as they are consistently coming I am satisfied. I have gone months with no changes in measurements. I have shifted to trying to get more cut, by eating more protein and less carbs. I am getting roughly 3000 calories a day. I am strict on my diet. They say one cheat day is okay, but some weeks I won't have those. When I do, I don't go all out either.

    Feel free to check out my bodyblog and see my stats for my measurements. Maybe I should look in to getting a personal trainer at some point, but time is tough from working FT and school FT, but I am making time to workout and plan things around that. Also, money is tight too, so I workout at home, but have some good equipment---free weights, squat rack, squat machine, pull up/dip bar, etc., etc.

    Thanks to anyone who can provide some feedback. I am on the right track or close to it, but just perhaps need a little tweaking. Diet has been really strict since July. Before that, I was eating clean, but not eating more pasta and breads (even if they were whole grain or multigrain).
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  2. #2
    I'll Rest When I'm Dead ironwill2008's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MisterT View Post
    I read where you should cycle training using various sets and reps. The latest program is in November's FLEX magazine. It has several phases that you can read in my November Blog if you are interested. Basically, you start light, do a lot of reps (20-35) for the pump and lasts 2 weeks. I just finished this and am moving to the next phase which does mostly 4x10, using compound exercises mostly, but doing a split (one body part per week).
    Not a fan of frequent changes, especially when they involve weeks of very high-rep work. Generally, muscle is built in the 6-12-rep range; anything much higher than that can increase endurance, but not so much mass.

    A better approach is to get on a routine based around the compound lifts, with a few selected isolations added in, and then work that routine on a consistent basis with the sole emphasis in progressing the weight and/or reps lifted, week-to-week. "Muscle confusion," "getting a pump," etc., aren't where the gains are found; progression is king. If you're Squatting, say, 315 for 3 sets of5 right now, you should definitely have bigger quads by the time you've progressed that weight to 3 sets of 10. If you stop doing that exercise and switch to something else, or arbitrarily change the rep range, who knows if you'll grow or not.



    My midsection is starting to get more defined, but no 6 pack just yet.
    Remember, it's very difficult to both add muscle and get defined at the same time.


    Question is: What is the ideal workout for a tall bodybuilding?
    Other than the fact that a taller frame might be tougher to fit into some of the machines at your gym, there's no special consideration for 'tall' bodybuilders. Get in there and do work.

    As you already stated though, it takes relatively more muscle mass to make a tall guy look big when compared to a shorter trainee. That's just the roll of the genetic dice.


    I am just wondering if I am wasting my time doing the workout in November Flex magazine doing the different phases.
    That's up to you. While no training is really a waste of time, there are certainly things that you can do that might prove to be less than optimal for you.

    While not all the stuff printed in the muscle mags is junk, just be aware that magazines have a different agenda than helping you build mass; their sole purpose is to come out with something shiny and 'different' each month, to attract you at the magazine rack. Once they have their mag in your hands, they can take a stab at selling you the latest, greatest, whiz-bang supplement of the week. The higher the mag's monthly circulation, the more they can charge their advertisers.




    I have shifted to trying to get more cut.....
    That's a worthwhile goal, but as above, don't expect to add much muscle while you're doing so.
    Last edited by ironwill2008; 11-20-2010 at 09:48 AM.
    No brain, no gain.

    You can't out-train bad nutrition.

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  3. #3
    Do I Even Lift? billb7581's Avatar
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    squatz and oatz
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  4. #4
    Repeat Offender ChazWood's Avatar
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    Not a whole lot more I can add that Will hasn't mentioned - mostly here offering moral support as a fellow tall, lean bastard.

    I would say take that tape measure and hide it in a drawer; IMHO, those things often only serve to frustrate you.

    As Will says, compounds are key - learn to love 'em; they are your friends.

    Work to stay motivated, remain disciplined with the quality of your diet and don't weigh yourself every 30 minutes. The results will come slowly but surely!
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  5. #5
    Chasing the dragon JRT6's Avatar
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    You got a whole lot of volume for an older ecto. Become one with the 5/3/1 plan.
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  6. #6
    Registered User pointreyes's Avatar
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    Something that helped to kick me into gaining muscle was doing the 20 rep squat program. Searching on the Internet will pull up plenty of information on this old and proven program. And then maybe switch to something like the 5/3/1. Warning: the 20 rep squat program will cause you to be very, very hungry. Even now that I'm back to a 5x5 strength program, I still consume up to 1/2 gallon of milk a day (on the 20 rep program I was consuming over 1 gallon a day due to hunger).

    Personally I would chuck the fitness mags. A bunch of sales ads with a few re-written programs for a person to constantly try something new that is normally useless for the hard gainer. Many of the programs in the fitness mags should have the following disclaimer: "Only a bodybuilder on steroids with lots of mass should do this program." I think the book Brawn has gotten me very skeptical of fitness mags.
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  7. #7
    eat until you poop BrotherWolf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by billb7581 View Post
    squatz and oatz
    yup..
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  8. #8
    Bigger! Stronger! BAMA! bamazav's Avatar
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    Some good advice given already. As a fellow lean and meaner ( I like that better than tall skinny guy), I know the frustration. Stick with it, lift heavy, eat as big as you can and get enough sleep. My focus for now is " get stronger to get bigger."
    David, a 50 year old pastor, husband and father.

    1Co 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified

    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=121412521

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  9. #9
    Registered User MisterT's Avatar
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    But should I stay with a split routine working out one body part per week or go with a full body (there would be less exercises because I am doing it 2-3 days a week)?
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  10. #10
    Registered User David Wiggins's Avatar
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    My favorite Subject! (even more than bench)

    I will try not to be too vague or too long winded in a simple & complexed subject (wut).

    I struggled with muscle gain for years, until I sourced an internal medicine MD that was a strength advisor for the Atlanta Braves. Started in the 240's or so. Ended up 300ish.

    Basically, most tall lifters do TOO MANY REPS. 6-8 is the norm for the average lifter(aka shorty). Remember reps are to measure volume of work. Shorty does 6-8. Tall guy probably does 25% more volume / range with each rep. 5-6 reps of tall guy equals 8 or so of shorty. Hence the need to do LESS REPS THAN AVERAGE SHORTY.

    This does not mean reduce intensity, but increase the work load in a less rep environment.
    This base line afforded me signficant strength and weight gain.

    Even with a PT, you will not get this unless he is tall guy / mass gain specific. It would be like asking me how to train for a marathon (see stats).
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  11. #11
    I'll Rest When I'm Dead ironwill2008's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MisterT View Post
    But should I stay with a split routine working out one body part per week or go with a full body (there would be less exercises because I am doing it 2-3 days a week)?
    It's difficult to give you a definite answer, but I'll try. If you've worked a FB program in the past, and pretty much stalled it out, a split might be best for you now. If you've never worked a FB before and/or never worked any routine based around Squat/Deadlift/Bench/Military/Row, a Full-Body program might be better. This is very generalized advice.

    Temper it with the fact that there is no such thing as a "best" routine; any balanced program based around the above compound lifts will produce gains equal to the amount of effort put into them.
    No brain, no gain.

    You can't out-train bad nutrition.

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  12. #12
    Registered User MisterT's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by David Wiggins View Post
    I will try not to be too vague or too long winded in a simple & complexed subject (wut).

    I struggled with muscle gain for years, until I sourced an internal medicine MD that was a strength advisor for the Atlanta Braves. Started in the 240's or so. Ended up 300ish.

    Basically, most tall lifters do TOO MANY REPS. 6-8 is the norm for the average lifter(aka shorty). Remember reps are to measure volume of work. Shorty does 6-8. Tall guy probably does 25% more volume / range with each rep. 5-6 reps of tall guy equals 8 or so of shorty. Hence the need to do LESS REPS THAN AVERAGE SHORTY.

    This does not mean reduce intensity, but increase the work load in a less rep environment.
    This base line afforded me signficant strength and weight gain.

    Even with a PT, you will not get this unless he is tall guy / mass gain specific. It would be like asking me how to train for a marathon (see stats).
    I read the Scrawny to Brawny book which emphasized the amount of reps should be shorter. It also had a couple of suggestions for tall lifters such as don't go all the way down on bench press because you put too much strain on your shoulder ligaments. They had good programs, but not many of them. I did the 3 phases and then moved to doing something else. Even with the S to B program, I did not see much in the way of results. It is a disappointment, but I by no means am ready to quit. I just realize that I am a hard gainer.

    I have a pic of me on the beach the summer after high school which was when I was 20. So I have made progress in the 18 yrs since then, but am by no means where I would like to be.

    I was eating 3500-3750 calories a day, but was gaining too much body fat in the process, so I scaled down to more like 3000 or so. I have started losing .5-1 lb a week. I think my main goal is to get a 6pack and then start from there as far as gaining muscle. I will still lift strong, but not totally exclude cardio. I have been doing cardio 2 times a week roughly 25 minutes each time. I know I need some reserves for muscle building, but for a while there I was doing next to no cardio and it only yielded body fat and no changes in my measurements (besides my waist line).
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  13. #13
    Registered User MisterT's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ironwill2008 View Post
    It's difficult to give you a definite answer, but I'll try. If you've worked a FB program in the past, and pretty much stalled it out, a split might be best for you now. If you've never worked a FB before and/or never worked any routine based around Squat/Deadlift/Bench/Military/Row, a Full-Body program might be better. This is very generalized advice.

    Temper it with the fact that there is no such thing as a "best" routine; any balanced program based around the above compound lifts will produce gains equal to the amount of effort put into them.
    I think that I will give it a shot. It seems like when I worked full body from 2x a week to 3x a week, I did not see much in the way of change. At the time, my schedule was really tight. This quarter, only Wednesdays and Saturdays are usually out because those are the days that I have classes (and I go FT). So I have the flexibility to work out 4x a week and will do each body part once a week. The next program or phase in the FLEX workout is doing 3x10-12 reps, doing compound exercises and some isolation, but mostly with the smaller groups. I could even adjust it to doing the same exercises, but do no more than 6 reps too.
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  14. #14
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    20 rep squats

    The 20 rep squat routine does work. Tom Platz, who had the hugest legs in the world, would do a set of squats for 10 minutes solid!! While I do not want my legs to look like Tom's did, I do follow some of his principles periodically. I personally get good results from squats in the 12-20 rep range. My upper body, I stay in the 8 rep range. But, your body may respond differently. My body adapts after following a routine 3-4 weeks. So, every 3-4 weeks I mix it up.
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  15. #15
    Registered User David Wiggins's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MisterT View Post
    I read the Scrawny to Brawny book which emphasized the amount of reps should be shorter. It also had a couple of suggestions for tall lifters such as don't go all the way down on bench press because you put too much strain on your shoulder ligaments. They had good programs, but not many of them. I did the 3 phases and then moved to doing something else. Even with the S to B program, I did not see much in the way of results. It is a disappointment, but I by no means am ready to quit. I just realize that I am a hard gainer.

    I have a pic of me on the beach the summer after high school which was when I was 20. So I have made progress in the 18 yrs since then, but am by no means where I would like to be.

    I was eating 3500-3750 calories a day, but was gaining too much body fat in the process, so I scaled down to more like 3000 or so. I have started losing .5-1 lb a week. I think my main goal is to get a 6pack and then start from there as far as gaining muscle. I will still lift strong, but not totally exclude cardio. I have been doing cardio 2 times a week roughly 25 minutes each time. I know I need some reserves for muscle building, but for a while there I was doing next to no cardio and it only yielded body fat and no changes in my measurements (besides my waist line).
    I know this will not be a popular suggestion, but here goes. Especially at your height, it is EXTREMELY TOUGH to gain muscle without some excess BW. I admire guys with a six pack, but it and signifcant strength / size gains are very tough to attain simultaneously.

    I am not suggesting let yourself go, but increase workload within a specific program, and feed the machine.

    And it may be that I just don't fully understand your goal..........
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  16. #16
    Greek God Of War DJBrickman's Avatar
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    I'm 6' 10" and have had the same issues. I am slowly gaining and will continue to just work hard daily to see the progress. What I have found the most difficult is fitting on the machines at the gym. I also have bad knees but am finding that the more I work the easier the routines become.
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  17. #17
    Registered User jmcginn13's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MisterT View Post
    I think that I will give it a shot. It seems like when I worked full body from 2x a week to 3x a week, I did not see much in the way of change. At the time, my schedule was really tight. This quarter, only Wednesdays and Saturdays are usually out because those are the days that I have classes (and I go FT). So I have the flexibility to work out 4x a week and will do each body part once a week. The next program or phase in the FLEX workout is doing 3x10-12 reps, doing compound exercises and some isolation, but mostly with the smaller groups. I could even adjust it to doing the same exercises, but do no more than 6 reps too.
    I feel I'm an ectomorph too, and have always been a hard gainer. I've been doing starting strength officially since beginning of September, and eating ~3k-3.5k calories a day (~150g protein). I'm starting to see a change. Legs, back, shoulders, chest are all bigger. Getting a little gut too, so I probably need to tune down my calories a little, but I'm ok with a little fat gain right now. I've went up in body weight from 185 to low 200's since July. I feel diet is way more important than the routine and a lot harder to keep at.
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  18. #18
    Registered User MisterT's Avatar
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    I think right now, I am going to continue the routine in Flex. This week and next involves working out ea body part once per week, except for abs/calves which is twice. The amount is 3x10 and using some principles like forced reps, rest-pause, and deloading. Maybe this will shock them in to growing.
    I figured that I could trim down on the bf% since I have never had a 6 pack and it will be giving me a new goal that may be more attainable within the next few months.
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  19. #19
    Registered User Leeberg's Avatar
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    When I was around 17 - 18 yrs old, my stats were probably identical to yours .. 6'4, and weighed in at around 11 stone (154) .. I started training at around that age and very slowly pack on some muscle. Around 10 years later I weighed in at around 13 and half stone, now at age 34 I hover around 15-16 (210-224) ..

    What I have found over the years is that high reps do not work for me, and neither does very heavy reps. 6-10 reps tends to work for me. One of the biggest factors of building muscle for me is REST, but not too much .. one on one off tends to work, with a focus on compound exercises. Machine work does nothing for me either.

    I vary between a full body program, and a two way split.

    I keep my protein at a minimum of 150 grams a day, and limit sugary foods.

    I keep body-fat to a minimum through aerobic cardio overtime I work out.

    My aim has always been to be muscular, functionally strong and very healthy.
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  20. #20
    Registered User Time2BulkUp's Avatar
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    Hmmm... I've always thought that height is a factor in your muscle gain process. I have long bones in both my arms and legs and it seems I grow muscle slower than I would like as compared to the short guys. I may have the same body type as you

    A lot of it is DIET. What I have found recently is that just cutting processed foods helps you get tighter and makes your muscles bigger and more defined because they're being fed what they need to grow more effectively. Watch out for the "low fat", "fat free", "sugar free" etc. labels out there. All they do is eliminate necessary, natural ingredients in foods and substitute it with chemicals our bodies were not designed to process. That throws off your hormones and without proper natural nutrition, muscle building can't take place. It's best to eat 100% natural food in your diet and just control your portions. Try that and see if it works for you.
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  21. #21
    Registered User Rdez's Avatar
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    At 6'1" and 160 ish when I started, I certainly qualify as a skinny old bastard.

    I didn't gain much muscle until I started eating a ridiculous (in my mind) amount of food. It seems the only way I can gain any muscle is to just eat eat and eat more then eat again. I had to give up an notion of looking 'good' around my midsection. I've gained about 12 pounds since I changed my approach, then backed off on the food because I didn't like the fat. Progress has been painfully slow now.

    With winter coming, I'm going to try and gain again. Nobody sees the fat in the winter when I'm bundled up or wearing a shirt.

    Not sure how much that helps you but, you are not alone. Don't give up yet !
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  22. #22
    Feel29 Act39 Look49 Age59 RogerAgness's Avatar
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    Thumbs up 56yo 6'0" and 135 lbs

    Tall and skinny here too, but "runner's build" sounds better. Was always afraid to walk in to a gym because of memories of high school P.E. but started working out two years ago. Today can feel (and see!) small changes but will never be big and ripped.

    Am nearing the end of Kris Grethin's "12-Week Video Trainer" (for the second time) and am looking for a new program.

    THANKS to all for your inspiration!
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  23. #23
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    Part of the problem could be that your taking advice from flex magazine. Okay not to knock it to badly here I am sure a lot of those guys giving advice in there know more about lifting than I do, but those types of magazines are horrible things to model yourself after those routines are being done by and set up by people that use steroids. I know not all of it but I am speaking in general and I am sure someone is going to try and burn me on this but if your not using roids then dont try and take up a roid users routine it wont work.

    Hey to each his own, I don't really care if someone uses that stuff or not. I am just saying think about it, if you try and copy a routine being done by someone who uses that stuff and you're not using it you going to fail miserably just keep that in mind. You should try and find some advice from someone or some source that doesnt cheat. Go ahead and tear into me I am sure someone will but its true.

    Oh and one good thing about being taller ( I am 6'4" ) is that hey eventually you have more room to grow. Sure if you pack 15 pds of muscle onto a guy who is 5'5" he is going to look like he gained more than 15 pds on someone who is 6'5", but keep at it you will eventually catch up with the whole mass thing.
    Y U NO COME TO BODYBUILDING.COM???
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