Strength and Height Differences Strength and Height Differences

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Thread: Strength and Height Differences

  1. #1
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    Default Strength and Height Differences

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    Hi Rip,

    I was thinking about a hypothetical situation involving two lifters of different heights and couldn't decide if it made sense or not, so I figure I'd ask for your opinion considering your vast wisdom:

    Let's say there are two lifters, exactly the same in every single way except one is 6' tall and the other is 5'6''. Let's also assume that their relative segment lengths are the same. Their 1rm maxes on the all of the barbell lifts are exactly the same. This would obviously make them equals in the gym, but wouldn't the taller guy actually be stronger because he is able to move the same weight a greater distance?

    I can't help but think he would be stronger, but at the same time, something doesn't seem right about that conclusion.

  2. #2
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    Define strength.

  3. #3
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    Does Op's definition of strength involve force-production?

  4. #4
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    I like defining strength as the practical application of force. Since both athletes can perform the same task to the same standards, e.g., hip crease below knee, I would call these two athletes equals. You're making the argument that because more work is being done (Fd/t) by the tall guy he is stronger, but neglecting the fact that he certainly has longer levers and probably has larger muscles. This means he has better leverage than the shorter guy and should be able to lift <i>more</i> weight*. This suggests that the shorter lifter is actually the stronger lifter "pound for pound," assuming the almost certain difference in weight.

    *This argument does not apply to very tall lifters. They have to move the weight so damn far their better leverage can't compensate. It's why ants can put 40xBW overhead and Rip can't.

  5. #5
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    I believe strength is defined as the ability to produce a force. If Im correct, then the taller lifter isn't stronger. He is however doing more work. Then again if you were to normalize (ie taller lifter cuts off the lift such that the bar moves the same distance) the distance of the lift then his normalized one rep max would likely be greater than his full ROM 1rm.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B Hardigan View Post
    Hi Rip,

    I was thinking about a hypothetical situation involving two lifters of different heights and couldn't decide if it made sense or not, so I figure I'd ask for your opinion considering your vast wisdom:

    Let's say there are two lifters, exactly the same in every single way except one is 6' tall and the other is 5'6''. Let's also assume that their relative segment lengths are the same. Their 1rm maxes on the all of the barbell lifts are exactly the same. This would obviously make them equals in the gym, but wouldn't the taller guy actually be stronger because he is able to move the same weight a greater distance?

    I can't help but think he would be stronger, but at the same time, something doesn't seem right about that conclusion.
    I'd say the taller guy would have an advantage in striking combat sports, in the throws as well (discus/javelin), in swimming, rowing, tennis, anything in which long limbs give an advantage because of all that stuff with pendulums or momentum or whatever, you know with weights on the end of a long arm kinda thing (that will teach me to take a law degree instead of something useful like engineering or physics).

    In pushing or pulling, lifting, running contact sports (rugby, gridiron) etc, I would assume that the best would be to be short and heavy, to give a low centre of gravity, and small ranges of motion in the case of lifting.

    But I don't know much about all this stuff. Still learning.

  7. #7
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    The taller guy would be doing more work (Force x Distance), but their maximum absolute strength would be the same as you said, both have the same RM. Which most likely mean that the taller athlete is less efficient as they have to move the bar a further distance to achieve the same result.

    It is kinda useless in thinking hypothetically in this instance because no two men/women are the same. Somatotype, Age, Segment Leangth, Training Years/Experience, Psychological Strategies/Mental Toughness, Equipment, etc..... are all variables that affect what happens during strength training. Hypothetical thinking in this example won't really provide meaningful knowledge.

    All that matters is how much can you do when you are under or pulling the bar.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B Hardigan View Post
    Hi Rip,

    I was thinking about a hypothetical situation involving two lifters of different heights and couldn't decide if it made sense or not, so I figure I'd ask for your opinion considering your vast wisdom:

    Let's say there are two lifters, exactly the same in every single way except one is 6' tall and the other is 5'6''. Let's also assume that their relative segment lengths are the same. Their 1rm maxes on the all of the barbell lifts are exactly the same. This would obviously make them equals in the gym, but wouldn't the taller guy actually be stronger because he is able to move the same weight a greater distance?

    I can't help but think he would be stronger, but at the same time, something doesn't seem right about that conclusion.
    I think you are confusing "strong" (as in an ability to exert force) with range of motion (where the taller lifter has a larger ROM).

    There is a word for this advantage. It's "taller", not "stronger".

  9. #9
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    Well there are strong lifters which are tall, just as there are great basketball players which are not huge and there are good 100 meter runners that aren't that tall and have amazingly long legs.

    I really think the whole height thing is overrated, even though galileo introduced gravity a long time ago and we know that you'll have a more stable base as lower as your center of gravity gets bars are nothing to compare with ballistic missiles that are affected by friction, height and air speed and lifters in the gym don't behave as formula 1 vhicles which would be affected drastically with a 5 CM higher/lower COG for that matter.

    There are lots of strong WLers which are tall, as a fact.

    You might be refering on the actual force that a muscle would need to generate (in Newtons) for exapmle a 1 meter hand compared to a 1.5 meter hand with the same weight being applied as the ressistance on a given excersice- there would be a greater force generation by the muscles with the greater leverage, and that could be simply calculated I think(correct me if i'm wrong coach).

    But the actual body performance would be the same, as you can't shorten your limbs and the body would always have the same leverages, so as exapmle take 2 guys that are squatting 500lbs, one is 6'2 and one is 5'6 it would be wrong to say that the taller guy is a stronger squatter, because the actual fact is that they both move the same weight, each one with his own body composition, but it all comes down to the weight on the bar on a given movement.

  10. #10
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    starting strength coach development program
    Wouldn't the tall guy be more powerful? Same weight over longer distance = more foot-pounds?

    God, I hope I'm not betraying my art major too much here.

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