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  1. #1
    Registered User RapidFail's Avatar
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    Limitations of strength based on body type

    While I realise somatotypes are an imperfect science, there's no denying that genetics result in people having very different bodies and this impacts our abilities to lift. I am 6'1" with a proportionally short torso and long limbs, which means I often find myself looking people who are around 5'8" eye-to-eye when sitting down. My shoulder breadth is probably about average for my height - or slightly below average - but I have very long arms (29" from the armpit to the fingertip), giving me a 77" armspan. My legs are, of course, proportionally long - particularly the femur bone.

    My body type means that it is much harder for me to bench press and squat than for someone with shorter limbs. For the bench I have a much longer lifting distance than someone with shorter arms and a bigger chest, while my long femur bones are more demanding of my hip mobility while squatting. Of course I can still progressively overload and get stronger like everyone else, but my body has given me a lower starting point and probably a lower limit for these lifts. On the other hand, I have an advantage with deadlifting, because my long arms and short torso means I don't need to bend so low to pick up the bar.

    Despite all of this, I often see generalisations posted here, such as 'you should be able to OHP your bodyweight, bench bodyweight x 1.5, squat bodyweight x 2 and deadlift bodyweight x 2.5 before advancing from beginner programs'. While this might be a good average, it's obvious that these numbers are going to be much easier to achieve for some than others.
    Current working weights

    DB Bench: 10 x 23KG (51lb) per dumbbell
    Front Squat: 5 x 55KG (121lb)
    Romanian DL: 8 x 55KG (121lb)
    Pendlays: 8 x 37.5KG (83lb)
    OHP: 8 x 29.5KG (65lb)
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    Kiwi Battler BenMcLeodNZ's Avatar
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    Don't worry about it. That's kind-of bunk anyway because b/w OHP is harder than benching 1.5x b/w and it depends a lot on how fat you are too. Just advance whenever you want man.
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  3. #3
    Registered User RapidFail's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by BenMcLeodNZ View Post
    Don't worry about it. That's kind-of bunk anyway because b/w OHP is harder than benching 1.5x b/w and it depends a lot on how fat you are too. Just advance whenever you want man.
    Oh yeah, I'm not worried in the slightest, I just think some of the younger, more impressionable members on the forum may sometimes get discouraged by some of the generalizations going around.
    Current working weights

    DB Bench: 10 x 23KG (51lb) per dumbbell
    Front Squat: 5 x 55KG (121lb)
    Romanian DL: 8 x 55KG (121lb)
    Pendlays: 8 x 37.5KG (83lb)
    OHP: 8 x 29.5KG (65lb)
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    Registered User TLWeight's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by RapidFail View Post
    Oh yeah, I'm not worried in the slightest, I just think some of the younger, more impressionable members on the forum may sometimes get discouraged by some of the generalizations going around.
    This post is true
    But all in the train, eat, fill out your frame with muscle lol
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    I'm actually the exact opposite @ 6ft3 my legs are short vs my torso, my hips are actually lower than people way shorter then me. I'm lagging a lot in squat but will get there, the rest of my lifts are okish for now.

    Everyone is different and your lifts will vary, but if you put in enough time (years of eating well and pushing yourself) they will even out. You sound like you would be a good high jumper or 400m+ runner, you would be amazed to see how much these people squat and bench even with their "disadvantages" because they put in tons of work over many years.

    Your only competition is your previous self.


    I don't think somatotypes cover it but specific leverages that give you some sort of advantage on some lifts/sports.

    "you should be able to OHP your bodyweight, bench bodyweight x 1.5, squat bodyweight x 2 and deadlift bodyweight x 2.5 before advancing from beginner programs'"

    Aslong as you are making gains/progress on any program why change ?
    Last edited by johndoethethird; 02-10-2019 at 06:04 AM.
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    From what I understand, it I typical to judge strength based on how much a person lifts according to their weight......Sounds familiar, right? That's why you see MMA fighters and boxers tremendously varying in height in the cage/ring, while remaining in the same weight division (men and women). I believe BB competitions are segmented into age, body frame and weight classes (besides figure, physique, etc...) as well. The competitive sporting arena has decided this as a rule a long time ago...I would assume there is a "fair" reason for it. They don't base results off of "long arms, short legs, short torsos having certain advantages, let's break this all up into categories to have fair assessments." LOL.

    Added note: Instead of making excuse and thinking my long arms (they are very long, by the way) will never develop....guess what? I starting lifting heavy weight from the very beginning 5x5 "style"- my own designed routine), found that strength WAS my strength, and today (even though returning from some time off) can BB curl 90 lbs....And with more practice, I will do that weight with more reps, more volume and start super setting that with 30-35 lbs. DB curls as well. NO excuses here. Just the facts.
    Last edited by etet1919; 02-10-2019 at 05:46 AM.
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    Originally Posted by RapidFail View Post
    Oh yeah, I'm not worried in the slightest, I just think some of the younger, more impressionable members on the forum may sometimes get discouraged by some of the generalizations going around.
    HA, when it comes to BB.com I’m much more worried about the “younger, more impressionable members” reading the toxic pool called the Misc. and thinking that is how normal people think, act, and talk.

    In any case, you nailed it...generalizations are just that. There is nothing wrong with starting point guidelines. It gives a person something to shoot for, and as they grow and gain experience and knowledge everyone learns that one size never fits all.
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    Originally Posted by RapidFail View Post
    Oh yeah, I'm not worried in the slightest, I just think some of the younger, more impressionable members on the forum may sometimes get discouraged by some of the generalizations going around.
    Then they likely lacked determination/drive to succeed anyway.

    Those who are determined are driven by obstacles and challenges, not defeated by them.

    Winners never quit, and quitters never win.
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    Originally Posted by grubman View Post
    HA, when it comes to BB.com I’m much more worried about the “younger, more impressionable members” reading the toxic pool called the Misc. and thinking that is how normal people think, act, and talk.

    In any case, you nailed it...generalizations are just that. There is nothing wrong with starting point guidelines. It gives a person something to shoot for, and as they grow and gain experience and knowledge everyone learns that one size never fits all.
    You mean the guys in mics wouldn't qualify as "random samples" in a scientific study correlating misogynistic theories and real men.....? I was losing faith there for a bit....LOL.
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    Registered User grubman's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by etet1919 View Post
    You mean the guys in mics wouldn't qualify as "random samples" in a scientific study correlating misogynistic theories and real men.....? I was losing faith there for a bit....LOL.
    Oh gawd they better not be!
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    Originally Posted by RapidFail View Post
    Oh yeah, I'm not worried in the slightest, I just think some of the younger, more impressionable members on the forum may sometimes get discouraged by some of the generalizations going around.
    You should be more worried that you squat less than most people OHP rather than advising forum members on anything.
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  12. #12
    Greedo shot first!!! LactoseTolerant's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by RapidFail View Post
    Oh yeah, I'm not worried in the slightest, I just think some of the younger, more impressionable members on the forum may sometimes get discouraged by some of the generalizations going around.
    No... I think you're speaking for yourself. At similar levels of training experience, shorter lifters will have a relative advantage but taller lifters will have the absolute advantage.
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    Originally Posted by LactoseTolerant View Post
    No... I think you're speaking for yourself. At similar levels of training experience, shorter lifters will have a relative advantage but taller lifters will have the absolute advantage.
    What is that? I've been BB at gyms for 15 years now, and I've never in my life, have heard of so much mention (not you personally) of HEIGHT being the ABSOLUTE dominant factor to predict....what? Maximal muscle size, strength or fitness achievements?
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    Setting limitations on yourself now is a recipe for failure.

    Szymon Kolecki had the same height and wingspan as you when he was an under-94kg lifter (207 pounds) and he has done a clean and jerk with over 230kg. It's not unrealistic to assume you can hit at least bodyweight over a few years. I hit a bodyweight strict press in less than two years and I have longer arms as well - but I was also doing some dedicated Olympic weightlifting training during that time and had a C&J more than my bench, so there was that.

    Instead of finding ways to rationalize around those standards (albeit not the standards I would use personally but they are mentioned often), why not train as if you plan to exceed them?
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    Greedo shot first!!! LactoseTolerant's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by etet1919 View Post
    What is that? I've been BB at gyms for 15 years now, and I've never in my life, have heard of so much mention (not you personally) of HEIGHT being the ABSOLUTE dominant factor to predict....what? Maximal muscle size, strength or fitness achievements?
    Not absolute correlate. Absolute weight vs. relative weight. I'm using height as a proxy for weight. The correlation gets stronger the more trained the group is.
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    Op.. It's best not to concern yourself with your genetic potential. Or even with how much others can lift. You'd be surprised at what you can accomplish, but you'll never accomplish much if you're not enjoying yourself along the way.

    I train because I enjoy training and challenging myself. It keeps me coming back to this hobby. I would never have made it far if at the beginning I looked at my body and thought Damn... A skinny guy with long limbs and tiny joints is at a genetic disadvantage so what's even the point?

    I'm 5'9 with a 76 inch wingspan. Not sure about my lower body proportions but it feels like I have long legs.

    I have tiny joints and test scores that are like 100 ng first thing in the morning that drop to well below that later in the morning/day. I'm not incredibly strong or incredibly aesthetic but I'm stronger and look better than most guys at my local gyms, most of whom have more favourable genetics.

    The point is if you like this hobby, continue working at it. you'll probably be surprised at what you can accomplish
    2019 goals - squat 365, bench 295, DL 455
    OHP 1XBW, Incline press - 225 for reps

    Currently lifts
    Bench - 265 - 3x3
    Squat - 315 - 3x3
    Deadlift - 415 1x3
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    I remember someone once said to a very tall strong guy "im impressed how you never complain or make excuses because of how tall you are and what long limbs you have"

    He said something along the lines of "I only have one body, I only know what its like to live and lift in this body and I have no idea what its like to live in another persons body. So why would I make excuses that this body type is better at something when I really only what its like to do the best that I can with the only body I have."
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    Originally Posted by Millz12323 View Post
    Op.. It's best not to concern yourself with your genetic potential. Or even with how much others can lift. You'd be surprised at what you can accomplish, but you'll never accomplish much if you're not enjoying yourself along the way.
    This is the mindset I shoot for. It can be hard to stay in it sometimes, but if you get too concerned with people having genetic advantages over you or trying to compare yourself to guys who have been doing this their entire adult lives you're just gonna get discouraged and quit instead of making any progress at all.
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    IMO there is some validity to certain body types lending themselves to being better at certain lifts than others, or at least having the ability to progress faster. I have a similar body type as you, and my deadlift has progressed a lot faster than my squat, even though I squat twice as often. I think tall people have a leverage advantage with deadlifts in particular. Whereas with squats, someone with long legs will have to drop down more to get parallel than someone with shorter legs, making it tougher to lift more relative to their weight.

    When I've listened to Kyle at Absolute Strength, who is short and thick, he talks about how he can bench and squat well but lags in the deadlift. Of course these are all anecdotal accounts, but I think the patterns exist.

    That being said, it all evens out when you take it as a whole. Just rock what you got and do your best.
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    Hitting those bodyweight multiples will take longer if you're tall or heavy, it's an obvious fact. Brb I'm still a novice.

    There are no set in stone rules for judging your advancement, it is quite individual.
    Log: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=175660541
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  22. #22
    Registered User RapidFail's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by DCSpartan View Post
    You should be more worried that you squat less than most people OHP rather than advising forum members on anything.
    I'm not worried about that - I only started lifting consistently in October and started Fierce 5 in January, so I know I've got a long way to go. Everyone is different - some people are naturally strong and can lift big numbers the first time they pick up a barbell. I'm the exact opposite, but it feels good to be addressing my weaknesses rather than focusing on my strengths, which is what I've always done in my athletic endeavours in the past.
    Current working weights

    DB Bench: 10 x 23KG (51lb) per dumbbell
    Front Squat: 5 x 55KG (121lb)
    Romanian DL: 8 x 55KG (121lb)
    Pendlays: 8 x 37.5KG (83lb)
    OHP: 8 x 29.5KG (65lb)
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  23. #23
    Registered User etet1919's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by FaIIen View Post
    Hitting those bodyweight multiples will take longer if you're tall or heavy, it's an obvious fact. Brb I'm still a novice.

    There are no set in stone rules for judging your advancement, it is quite individual.
    I would think it would be easier for a heavier person to lift more weight, naturally. But what do I know?
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    Registered User RapidFail's Avatar
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    Thanks for your replies everyone. Despite how it might have sounded, I'm actually super-motivated about my weight lifting and strength building journey. The fact I have such a low starting point also means I have more potential for improvement than many, which if anything makes it more exciting to me. I'm keeping a log of my progress with Fierce 5 which you can see here:

    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...hp?t=176683591

    I'd appreciate any feedback from anyone who has the time to have a quick read (of course I don't expect anyone to read all of it). The main point of my post wasn't excuse making, it's that from the time I've spent on these forums, I think a lot of people are underestimating the role that genetics play in our physical abilities. An example in the opposite direction: one of my friends is two inches shorter than me, but has a longer torso and shorter legs and is also heavier - more muscle and more fat than me. A few years back he got himself into his best ever condition (5'11" and 185lb) through months of long distance running. At the height of his fitness, he entered the City to Surf - a hilly 12km (7.5 miles) race - and finished in 1 hour and 7 minutes - a minute slower than the time I did with no training whatsoever. My longer legs, skinnier ankles and lighter bodyweight mean it's far easier for me to cover distances while expending less energy. Looking back at weight lifting, I have another friend who is very naturally muscular and strong - he's 5'8" and 200lb but doesn't look particularly fat - yet he works as a computer programmer, doesn't lift, and has calves like cantaloupes.
    Current working weights

    DB Bench: 10 x 23KG (51lb) per dumbbell
    Front Squat: 5 x 55KG (121lb)
    Romanian DL: 8 x 55KG (121lb)
    Pendlays: 8 x 37.5KG (83lb)
    OHP: 8 x 29.5KG (65lb)
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    Registered User RapidFail's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by etet1919 View Post
    I would think it would be easier for a heavier person to lift more weight, naturally. But what do I know?
    Definitely in absolute terms - but talking of bodyweight multiples, it's the people in the lower lifting classes that have the more impressive numbers.
    Current working weights

    DB Bench: 10 x 23KG (51lb) per dumbbell
    Front Squat: 5 x 55KG (121lb)
    Romanian DL: 8 x 55KG (121lb)
    Pendlays: 8 x 37.5KG (83lb)
    OHP: 8 x 29.5KG (65lb)
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    Rate of progression is much cleaner than bw ration for determining level of advancement.

    Problem is, a lot of people undereat, under sleep, under perform in gym, pay less attention to improving technique etc.

    So someone will claim they can't progress weekly because of genetics etc when weighing 140lbs at 6 foot..
    Extreme example but not one we don't see often on the forum


    FYI, longer arms on bench means more RoM which means more gains. Don't worry about whether they make you the best unless competing for a world title..
    2018 Log
    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=175232661

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    Registered User ampire's Avatar
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    A suggestion for the OP is to try using dumbbells for benchpress or doing dips instead of doing barbell bench press. I have long arms relative to my height and shoulder width and this works well for me. Generally you just have to find out what works for you.
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    Originally Posted by ampire View Post
    A suggestion for the OP is to try using dumbbells for benchpress or doing dips instead of doing barbell bench press. I have long arms relative to my height and shoulder width and this works well for me. Generally you just have to find out what works for you.
    I do dumbbell bench press because I work out at home and it's safer without a spotter.
    Current working weights

    DB Bench: 10 x 23KG (51lb) per dumbbell
    Front Squat: 5 x 55KG (121lb)
    Romanian DL: 8 x 55KG (121lb)
    Pendlays: 8 x 37.5KG (83lb)
    OHP: 8 x 29.5KG (65lb)
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  29. #29
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    Originally Posted by RapidFail View Post
    I do dumbbell bench press because I work out at home and it's safer without a spotter.
    I do the same, and then there is the pitfall of comparing dumbbell bench to the barbell bench strength to ratio of bodyweight standards. LOL I just keep focusing on using heavier dumbbells each week.

    Originally Posted by RapidFail View Post
    Definitely in absolute terms - but talking of bodyweight multiples, it's the people in the lower lifting classes that have the more impressive numbers.
    The Ukrainian powerlifter Oleksandr Kutcher comes to mind as an extreme deadlift specialist bodytype.
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  30. #30
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    For short guys, 1x/1.5x/2x/2.5x is easier to reach. For tall guys, its 1/2/3/4 plates. I say shut up and surpass both of them.
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