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How To Train For Your Body Type

You need to find which exercises are the most effective and safest for how you’re built.

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  • 30 min

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Tall Vs. Short
James Michelfelder
Tall Vs. Short
James Michelfelder

You’ve heard it from your mom your entire life: You’re special. And you are, as far as weight training is concerned, anyway. Every body is different—some respond well to one kind of exercise, while another exercise can be downright dangerous. For the best long-term gains, you need to find which exercises are the most effective and safest for how you’re built. The following two routines will help you on this journey, offering examples of how a taller, long-limbed guy can train for the best results, and how a shorter, stockier man should go about it.

How it works

If you’re 6′ or taller, with long arms or legs, you’re going to have trouble with classic barbell exercises like the bench press and back squat. You’re simply not built to perform those lifts efficiently. You’ll likely do better with the dumbbell bench press, which allows your hands to move freely, making for a safer and more comfortable movement pattern for the shoulders and elbows. At the same time, front squatting will be easier on your lower back and will allow you to squat deeper.

Stockier guys, around 5’10” and shorter, who have naturally broader shoulders and shorter limbs, may need to extend their range of motion on certain exercises to activate the most muscle. Bulgarian split squats will stretch out their hips while working more leg muscle. They can also take advantage of abs rollouts. Because short arms don’t have to reach far, rollouts won’t overextend the lower back as they can on a tall guy.

Directions

Choose the workout that’s appropriate for your height and limb lengths—for example, if you’re 6’ or more, go with the taller-man workout; if you’re built like a D battery, use the other routine. Exercises marked “A” and “B” are alternated, so you’ll do one set of A, rest as needed, then one set of B, rest, and repeat until all sets for the pair are completed.

Routine

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Train For Your Body Type

The Tall-Man Workout

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 3

Front Squat

Equipment
Sets
4
Reps
6-8
Rest
--
Exercise 2 of 3

Dumbbell Press

Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
4
Reps
6-8
Rest
--
Low incline dumbbell press
Exercise 3 of 3

Close-Grip Chinup

Equipment
Pullup Bar
Sets
4
Reps
8-10
Rest
--
Exercise 4 of 3

Reverse Lunge

Equipment
Sets
4
Reps
10 (each leg)
Rest
--
Exercise 5 of 3

Dumbbell Press

Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--
Angled dumbbell press

Train For Your Body Type

The Short Man Workout

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 6 of 3

Deficit Deadlift

Equipment
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 7 of 3

Weighted Dip

Equipment
Ankle Weights, Dip Station
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 8 of 3

Bulgarian Split Squat

Equipment
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 9 of 3

Suspended Pushup

Equipment
Pullup Bar, TRX
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--
Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
4
Reps
12-15
Rest
--
Exercise 12 of 3

Turkish Getup

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
1
Reps
5 minutes
Rest
--
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