It is not very common to see a person over 6’4” get into the sport of bodybuilding more seriously then only couple of workouts a week for fitness purposes. But in these rare cases there are some pointers that could be useful. I myself am 6’6” and easily the tallest person working out more than twice a week in any gym I ever worked out at. Being this tall and having done this for some time I have realized there are rules that apply to us skyscrapers that are a little bit different or same but even more important than to a shorter person. Here are couple tips for us who see over crowds.
1. Monk-like patience
It is preached a lot that bodybuilding is not a 100 meter race but rather a marathon. Well, in our case bodybuilding is not a marathon; it’s a journey around the globe and back. The taller the person, the longer the journey. There are some genetic freaks out there but for the majority of people, building muscle is a long and hard process. Now just imagine a person 5’8” gaining 10 pounds on his frame over a period of time and 6’5” person gaining the same 10 pounds over the same time. The level of improvement will be much greater visibly on the shorter person because his smaller frame will reflect the change as more dramatic. On the other hand, 10 pounds on a tall guy’s frame is hardly visible. Therefore tall people must have patience of a monk and stick with it for years and years to build decent musculature.
2. Range of motion
Full range of motion is not always the best way to train for tall people, in my opinion. Especially when squatting. Parallel is just enough. Don’t try to go ass to grass. The distance from fully erect position to parallel is great enough. You are not 5’6” and your range of motion is not 4”.
3. Bending over
In this day and age with a lot of options possible for training each body part, I recommend staying away from heavy barbell rows. There is nothing worse for tall man’s lower back then to bend over and stay at that position for prolonged period of time. Due to the length of the upper body, the force pressing on the lower back is too much. There is nothing wrong in eliminating this exercise from your back routine. Dumbbell rows work just as well. I am not against deadlifts, but I would do them only once a couple of weeks and alternate them with rack pulls. Repetitions are to be kept over 6 to limit the weight used from going super heavy and pressuring the spine too much.
4. Lower back overtraining
Be very careful on your lower back. Once that’s gone, its over. Think about your training. Don’t be training back two days after squatting. Squats hit lower back hard too, especially in our case, so give your erectors a rest before you pound them again.
5. Clean diet
Try not to bulk up too much. No matter how tall a person it, there is only one heart in the body and 5’6” person’s heart can handle 280 lbs bulked up much better than tall person’s heart would handle 350 lbs in the same shape. You want to be healthy right? Don’t get your fat level rise too much. You have to carry your ass wherever you go.
6. Leave your ego.
Be patient with the weight increase on your bar. Don’t be stupid and try crazy lifts just because you see someone else do it in your gym. He might be lighter and press more, but his range of motion is half yours and therefore you have to control the weight twice as long and there is bigger injury potential if you mess up.
7. Machines are not for pussies.
Don’t think that you have to work out only with free weights and that machines are not for you. I have found very useful using machines in my workout especially to eliminate lower back from action, or isolate particular muscle. Its much better for me to do my second pressing movement for chest, for example, on a machine since my supporting muscles are also already tired and holding free weight would be lot more difficult.
8. Don’t forget abs
Work your abs at least 3 times a week to build a strong abdominal wall. The stronger the abs, the more stress they elevate from lower back when working out. You must strive to build your torso as strong as possible.
Be very careful doing last repetitions of certain exercises and using cheating to complete them. Using heavy cheating motion on barbell bicep curls can compromise your lower back also. Not mentioning trying to pull the last crucial rep on deadlift. Keep your form strict and don’t round your back. It could be fatal.