There seems to be a common theme among many deadlifters who like to make excuses. One common excuse is not having an optimal body type for deadlifts. Some tall athletes claim their height gives them a disadvantage due to greater range of motion and sub-optimal leverages. Here at Deadlift Potential we don’t accept excuses, so we are going to break down the deadlift form for tall athletes and show you how being tall can actually work to your advantage.
People are considered tall when they have an above average height, which is 5′ 10″ for males and 5′ 5″ for females. Many people believe that being tall puts you at a disadvantage in the sport of powerlifting and specifically the deadlift. They think that because the bar has to travel a greater distance, this makes the lift harder. When it comes to deadlifting, height really has no effect on how well you will perform at deadlifting. There are short people who are good at deadlifting and there are also tall people who are good at deadlifting. Although body height does not effect how good you are at deadlifts there are a few factors that do, including limb length and leverages.
Optimal Deadlift Body Type
The optimal body type for deadlifting is long arms with a proportionally short torso. Long arms help because the lockout position will be lower, reducing the range of motion. The short torso is beneficial because it allows the lifter to get into a better starting position. Optimal body type for deadlifting also depends on whether you are doing sumo or conventional deadlifts. Long arms will be beneficial for both styles, but if you have short arms, sumo deadlifting will be better regardless of your torso length. 1
Which Body Type Are You?
If you would like to know if you have an optimal deadlift body type here’s how to measure. There are two indexes we can look at to determine limb length in relation to how close to average you are. The first is the ape index where you measure body height and wingspan. The average height to wingspan ratio is 1:1 and if your wingspan is longer than body height, you have longer than average arms, which is optimal for deadlifting. The next ratio to look at is leg to total body height. Leg length is measured using the inseam of the leg. The average leg length is 45% of total body height and anything greater than this would be optimal. Having long arms will help both the sumo and the conventional deadlift. People who have shorter than average torsos will usually have longer legs. If you have longer than average legs, or short arms, pulling sumo may be a better choice for you. If you have shorter than average legs, a conventional deadlift may be ideal.
So now you have no excuses to not deadlift. So all you tall people get out there and start deadlifting!
- Hales, M. (2010). Improving the Deadlift: Understanding Biomechanical Constraints and Physiological Adaptations to Resistance Exercise. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 32(4), 44-51. ↩