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Thread: Height classes

  1. #1
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    Default Height classes

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    In regards to strengthlifting, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, have you ever considered that weight classes are not ideal? For example a 220lb 5'4" man is most likely stronger than a 220lb 6'4" man for multiple reasons such as muscle mass, range of motion, and moment arms.

    Why not use height classes? Wouldn't it make more sense to compare people of similar height? Then to be competitive you simply need to get stronger/gain weight instead of playing ridiculous games with weight classes and weigh ins. I would presume that people are already somewhat herded into height classes indirectly due to needing to be competitive in a weight class (with shorter people having more options), but I think directly using height classes would solve problems in the sport. For example, kids wouldn't ever cut weight if they had to compete in height classes. The only option would be to gain weight/strength with no downside to getting too strong by accidentally moving to the bottom range of the next weight class. If someone bests you it's literally because they're stronger than you with very little room for excuses.

    When competing for strength, can you really compare the dynamics of a squat between two men of greater than 1' height difference and make statements about their comparative strength based solely on bar weight?

    If there is a flaw to height classes that I'm not thinking of, then my next idea would be height/weight ratio classes. Somehow it should be taken into account that a 5'4" person has a drastically different range of motion and moment arms than a 6'4" person that weight classes can't address. Perhaps a 5'4" 220lb man is more accurately compared to a 6'4" 267lb man. The ratio could mitigate the differences in range of motion and moment arms, although perhaps there would need to be more to it than just a linear equation.

    Should we be impressed when a short man starves himself to lift "big weights for his weight class" when someone of the same height, but two weight classes above, is clearly much stronger?

    Should we be impressed when a huge dwarf of a man competes with weaker tall people instead of tall people with similar muscle mass compared to their frame?

  2. #2
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    At the international level, weight classes are in fact height classes. But weight classes are pretty much baked into the cake at this point. We can't even get them to accept the idea of a weigh-out, because it makes far too much logical sense. If you really want to find out who is the strongest, just load the bar to 800 and see who can do the most reps with it. Nobody will enter your meet, but apparently that's not important.

  3. #3
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    Yea you're right that weigh-out is a very good improvement to the current situation. And it does make sense that weight classes converge to height classes as you go up in higher competition levels, but doesn't really solve it for lower levels. I guess they don't matter as much though.

    I could email the head of USAPL and the Olympic Committee to tell them how stupid they are and CC you. Maybe I'll get every federation in on a mass email chain and we can sort this shit out real quick by making them aware of why weigh-outs and even weight classes are fucking dumb.

    Also I got a SS bar from TPB and it's great (in addition to my York B&R). Turns out there aren't many bare steel smooth sleeve barbell options in the current market which amazes me so thanks for filling this gap. Can't think of a single improvement for the bar. Wish Buddy made all his bars with smooth sleeves but maybe the typical customer wouldn't even know the difference and pay the cost increase.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevinwillz View Post
    I could email the head of USAPL and the Olympic Committee to tell them how stupid they are and CC you. Maybe I'll get every federation in on a mass email chain and we can sort this shit out real quick by making them aware of why weigh-outs and even weight classes are fucking dumb.
    Great idea! Those guys have no vested interest in keeping things the way they are, so I'm sure we can get this done in a couple of weeks.

  5. #5
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    I've seen that guys in my height of around 6' are in weird spot on this cause when we can move large numbers the guys that are in the 5'5"~ish range that weigh the same can move more cause of a shorter ROM, but we're too short to get into higher level strongman because once we drive our weight up high enough to move really big numbers we're just fat and the numbers just suffer. It's an interesting idea but in a practical way I don't see how it could fly.

  6. #6
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    Weighout is very good idea especialy from organization of competition stand point.

    Height classes is not a good idea. There would be alot of problem with measurment. I'm 189 cm when i stand tall, 186 when normal and somwhere around 183 if I want to without looking wierd. You don't have this problem with the scale.

    Plus I think there would be no changes in competition lineup at higher level.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Szymon View Post
    Weighout is very good idea especialy from organization of competition stand point.

    Height classes is not a good idea. There would be alot of problem with measurment. I'm 189 cm when i stand tall, 186 when normal and somwhere around 183 if I want to without looking wierd. You don't have this problem with the scale.

    Plus I think there would be no changes in competition lineup at higher level.
    OK Quasimodo

    I'd like to see people cheat height-ins by attempting to appear shorter. Would be quite the site.

  8. #8
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    As a 6'4" person, I disagree w the height class idea. Once youre an adult, height is fixed. Can't and won't change. But weight is infinitely malleable. Youd have people winning the 5'10" class by balooning to 400 pounds. Or something. It doesn't get around the fact that bigger/heavier is stronger. But if you could make someone taller, it would perversely make them weaker.

    Just leave it as it is and fill out your weight class. I've put on about 40-50 pounds of muscle in the last decade, starting at age 41 or so, so it can be done. I weighed 264 this AM and and relatively leaner than I was at 220. Im also a lot stronger.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatButWeak View Post
    As a 6'4" person, I disagree w the height class idea. Once youre an adult, height is fixed. Can't and won't change. But weight is infinitely malleable. Youd have people winning the 5'10" class by balooning to 400 pounds. Or something. It doesn't get around the fact that bigger/heavier is stronger. But if you could make someone taller, it would perversely make them weaker.

    Just leave it as it is and fill out your weight class. I've put on about 40-50 pounds of muscle in the last decade, starting at age 41 or so, so it can be done. I weighed 264 this AM and and relatively leaner than I was at 220. Im also a lot stronger.
    I disagree. If someone chooses to get to 400lb to destroy your ass in competition then they truly did prove they're stronger than you were willing or able to get. This is why strongman is more interesting. You'll still see huge short men who are willing to become monsters to compete with taller guys (although strongman events generally favor height)

    Weight classes, except for possibly at the very elite level, discourage absolute strength in favor of "staying in a weight class I think I can do well in".

    If some 5'2" man balloons to 300lb to own your 6'4" ass is that fair? There is clearly a difference between a 5'2" 300lb monster and a 6'4" 300lb man, not even factoring in the shorter ROM and better moment arms.

    "height being fixed" is my whole point. You categorize on height to more accurately compare absolute strength between individuals by reducing differences that make direct comparison difficult.

    If someone drops down a weight class to be more competitive, is that okay? They're choosing to be objectively weaker in order to feel like they're stronger by changing who they compare themselves to.

    Solutions to height class measurement issues: create slightly overlapping height classes so people might have the option to choose which of the two bordering height classes to compete it (and thus discourage dishonest measurements). This would still separate huge dwarves from leaner giants. Or hang the fucker upsidedown by his feet so he can't try to slouch.

  10. #10
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    I think a mathematical analysis will reveal why weight classes are the status quo and why height classes aren't used. Consider that height is a linear measurement (1 dimensional) whereas weight is a volume measurement (3 dimensional). Take a toddler that is half your height. If they have a similar shape, they will not weigh half as much as you but will weigh about one eighth as much. This is due to scaling in 3 dimensions. Not only will their height be half as much, but so will their width and thickness. This is easier to imagine if you take a cube and make all the dimensions twice as much. The new cube will have 2^3 = 8 times the volume and thus will be 8 times as heavy.

    The point here is that height is a variable that has a far lower standard deviation (variation) than weight. For example, nearly all adult males have heights between 61 and 79 inches. That's 3 standard deviations (3 in) from the mean (70 in). To get an equivalent range of weights you would need to go from something like 110 pounds to 400 pounds, a scale that upon inspection has far more variation. If height classes are used, one would need to really fine tune the differences to as small as 1 or 2 inches between classes and this means measurement uncertainties from slouching or wearing a particular shoe could introduce significant errors. I like your idea and have thought of it myself, but I don't see it as a practical solution.

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