Is Bodybuilding Easier For Short People?

Bodybuilding and powerlifting do not love tall people at all. In fact, all strength sports hate tall people with a passion. Having a rather long body makes it much harder to succeed in similar activities because of all the extra work that has to be done. Past a certain threshold every centimeter of height is not helpful but detrimental. The taller you are, the heavier you need to be in order to make it work, and that’s hard.

5 kilograms on a short person make a huge difference but are barely noticeable when you are loooong. You may have to gain double to achieve the same effect. Obviously, it’s much harder to gain 10 kilograms than it is to gain 5. That’s why short people have an advantage in the lifting industry, and bodybuilders over 180 cm are a minority.

There is a very old video in which Lee Priest, one of the shortest bodybuilders ever, calls out tall guys for having the same measurements as him. Cool, but…


People need to realize that in order for somebody who is 180+ cm to have the same measurements as Lee Priest, he will have to also weigh 40-50+ kilograms more.

When you are tall everything is multiplied – food, elixirs, effort, time…etc. As you can probably guess, it takes a lot less resources to build a house with a single floor than to construct one with two or three floors. You are going to need more time, energy, raw materials, workers…etc. At one point, it just becomes counter-productive.

How much are you supposed to weigh when you are 210 cm and there are guys who are 165 cm and 115 kilograms in contest shape? 200-210 kilograms? This is the reason why most competitors are well under 190 cm.

As far as powerlifting is concerned being tall complicates things too. When you are tall, you have to do more work with the barbell. There is a big difference between a 150 cm guy benching 100 kg and a 195 cm guy doing the exact same thing. When you have long arms, the distance traveled by the bar could sometimes be double. That’s why the short person will almost always out-lift the taller guy, unless the tall guy gets really heavy and improve his density and levers.

You can’t be 195 cm and 75 kg, expecting to out-lift somebody who is 155 cm and 75 kg. It’s not going to happen unless your rival is rather untrained, but people who don’t try should not even be used as competition anyway.

Being Tall Does Not Equal A Larger Frame

Many rather unintelligent people think that the size of your frame is determined by your height. That’s not the case. Your frame is determined by bone thickness. You can be tall, but not thick. The bigger (not longer) your bones are, the bigger your foundations is. That’s why the strength sports are dominated by short stocky dudes who would be considered nonathletic when it comes to more explosive and dynamic activities such as sprinting, jumping…etc. {more}

Tall Guys and Their Weak Limbs

Tall people are usually torso and hip dominant because their limbs are rather lengthy. A guy with T-rex like arms will probably be arm dominant bencher while somebody with a long wingspan will be more of a chest bencher. In bodybuilding we see the same thing. There are guys like Joel Stubbs who has obviously exceptional torso, but his arms and legs are weak in comparison when it comes to modern bodybuilding standards.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

Many yeas ago I met a guy in the gym who told me the following: “You are tall, and this is great because you can’t have a big gut.”

The guy had a big fat gut himself and used to joke that this is his best muscle group. He was also clearly complaining that he is short and that’s why he is fat. Cool, except that he was not really that short and the reason he was fat was his diet, but as we all know: the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Focus on what you can change, but stay real.

I don’t know about you, but my observations are that the lifting community suffers from too much positive thinking. We all believe that somehow, someway all limitations can be beaten. It’s all about “how bad you really want it”. This kind of thinking is not positive. It’s delusional.

With that said everybody can improve, even though the guys with better genetics will always beat those who are just not cut for this muscle game. However, there is a big difference between improving and reaching a standard which cannot be achieved in the first place.

There is no doubt that with more dedicated efforts people, who are not genetically gifted at something, can go a long way and surprise the critics. However, it would be naive to think that a guy who is 140 cm can become the next Michael Jordan, just like it is delusional to believe that somebody who is 205 cm can be the next Naim Süleymanoğlu, who is known for his three times bodyweight clean and jerk.

3 comments

  1. Steve

    Not one of the better articles theres a lot of evidence that proves the height of a person has little do do with either muscle or strength gains

    Ive often heard tall skinny ecto guys say things like ‘id be huge if i was ‘x’ amount shorter’ they wouldnt! They would simply be built in proportion to what they are at their current height ie if they are 6-4 and 190 at 5-6 they will weigh 130 and their 13″ arms at 6-4 will now be 11″ at 5-6.

    Power sports are not dominated by shorter guys either just take a look at the worlds strongest men competitions for confirmation of that.

    Shorter guys dont have height to rely on through life, they have to work for things and work harder its likely that they take that attitude into the gym with them whereas the taller guys can coast through life getting things for simply ‘being tall’ but when they get into the gym the weights dont care how tall they are, it then becomes a great excuse to blame your height when you see someone shorter (who you believe to be inferior) with better a physique.

    The guys i know who are tall and train hard and eat enough food are usually as built or better built than the shorter guys ive trained with, the train hard and eat right, the tall guys i know who ‘cant gain size because of their height’ usually are A) as weak as hell B) eat like runway models C) drink every weekend. Funnily enough those are the same reasons the short and average guys don’t gain either.

    The top 3 bench pressers in the world are all over 6′. Being short limits how much mass you can put on your frame. Distances for pushing weights are changed with different stances and grips on the bar. No two guys of the same height are usually of the same proportions, two average 6 foot guys can have different tibia,nfemur, torso, arm lengths, its not as simple as ‘the tall guy has to lift the weight further’

    If i had a pound for everytime a tall guy has used this excuse fir his scrawny and weak physique id be a rich guy. Its easy to blame something you have no control over than to just admit ‘im not naturally strong and im naturally of thin ecto build’ its easier to say ‘id be huge and strong if i was short because of (insert bullshit excuses here). Thats an ego issue.

    So bottom line is if you struggle to build muscle and you are tall you would still struggle to build muscle if you were short. Period!

    Bonus point. Google the perks of being tall vs being short you will find you really have little to complain about unless of course you think that getting attention from women easier, more automatic respect, better job opportunitys etc etc are bad things.

  2. Kian

    I absolutely agree with Steve’s comment. Besides, all you need to do is look at Mike O’Hearn, a 6ft3 4x Mr. Natural Universe, to see that you can still be a very successful bodybuilder in spite of being tall.

  3. gilbert

    in strongman being tall is and advantage. by the way lou ferrigno is more impreesive than franco… and stronger

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