Lifters who weigh well over 200 pounds and actually have to look down on 6 foot tall guys need to take a slightly different approach to their training.
Smaller people have distinct leverage advantages, but if you are the big guy you can use your disadvantages to your advantage.
Because of your weight, height, and leverage, the exercises that a 150-pound pipsqueak can blow through may be exactly what the doctor told you to use to break a plateau, improve your condition, or even build muscle exponentiate.
1. Hang with a bent arm
When I weighed 1
This is an example of isometric training. There are very few pure back exercises that emphasize such isometric strength, let alone in the end of the lift. When you do this, weaknesses in the closing strength are quickly exposed.
If you are struggling with pull-ups, adding this to your routine (especially when paired with eccentric or just negative pull-ups) can be invaluable to build strength and skill. Prepare to be humble, especially if it’s been a while and your Libra weight has escalated.
Start with sets of 10 to 15 seconds and build from there.
2. Bridging the body weight
Don’t worry, no one is trying to get you to train for the circus. This movement improves the reach of the shoulder above the head, the extension of the T-spine, and the opening of the chest and hips. These are great players for tall, muscle-bound lifters.
As you can see in the video, the idea is to properly stack your shoulders over your arms. Notice how I try to “propel” myself forward over my shoulders to move toward an ideal position. This is something that a 155 pound lifter can easily handle, but all the more impressive when a 250 pound lifter can do it.
Focusing on sets of 10 to 15 seconds can greatly improve your mobility and prepare your entire back chain for your workout. Alternatively, you can do them yourself during a special day of bodyweight exercises.
Mobility and flexibility work may seem redundant, but if it is extremely difficult for you, it likely indicates a link in your chain that requires attention. Bodybuilders and Meatheads take note.
3. From Sleeve Iron Cross
When you consider that 90% of athletes who are capable of performing a true Iron Cross are 5’3 “, 135-pound gymnasts with obscene strength-to-weight ratios, most people think they don’t But that changes if you just adjust the lever arm.
In the video I used my sleeves and placed them high up on the arms for support (this is definitely required for larger frames). From this point on, the goal is to hang freely while bringing the shoulder blades down as much as possible and compressing the glutes and core.
It’s harder than it looks. However, don’t let your arms rest against the bars of the squat cage as this would make things a lot easier.
The lats and abdominal muscles go crazy in this variant and at the same time save the shoulder and elbow joints from far too much stress, far too early. This is another great exercise for tall guys to really master manipulating their body weight. Start with a 15 second break.
To make it harder, move the sleeves just a few inches away from your body. Don’t be a fool to add a weight belt with three 45 pound plates attached to it.
4. Nordic Curl hip joint
This is a hamstring killer that can be a pretty solid replacement for traditional GHRs or eccentric Nordic curls, the latter of which tend to cause knee discomfort as the knee joint angle opens as the body descends. I’ve always suspected it was because of the strain they put on the posterior cruciate ligament, but this exercise offers a worthwhile solution.
What you’re going to do is change the emphasis to maintain an isometric hold on the knee joint while building in hinge movement on the hip joint. As a result, the hamstrings work hard while reducing the stress on the posterior ligaments.
To get the most of it, pay attention to details. A simple default setting is to let your hips fall too far back (letting your bum “sit” towards your heels) while hinging. Don’t let that happen. Start your set by leaning forward 2 or 3 inches to transfer tension to the hamstrings.
Your tall position should not be free of tension. In other words, if nothing blocked your feet, you would likely fall forward.
Squeeze the glutes through the hinge pattern and keep moving slowly. A 25-pound plate (or a couple of them) should be all you need if you weigh over 200. Body weight is fine for even taller men. Focus on sets of 10.
5. Foot overs
Training bilateral leg lifts (especially those that target the lower abs or psoas hip flexors) can be very difficult for heavier lifters because of the weight of their legs alone. To give them a chance to fight, just go one-sided.
This exercise is painfully simple in its “rules” and execution, but it is incredibly difficult for a tall lifter to pull off. Remember, from a concentric standpoint, there are very few traditional exercises that can attack the psoas muscles. Most of the hip strengthening exercises involve the iliac, which bends the hip into lower angles.
This is important because strong hip flexors can give a lifter a much more stable squat, reduce back pain, and make the entire pelvis much more balanced. It’s often said that people have “tight hips,” and that’s a term I don’t like. It distracts us from thinking that a muscle can be both tight and weak, which in my experience is quite common.
Do your best to show the toe and keep a straight leg. This will prove to be a real wake up to the rectus femoris (the quad muscle that runs down the middle of your thigh), abs, and hip complex.
About 10-12 rigorous reps per leg should be enough to feel the burn for the rest of the week.
6. Heels-Elevated Dumbbell Squat
Think of this as a bonus as it involves the use of dumbbells instead of just body weight. That being said, it should be a basic lower body training requirement for tall and long legged lifters for one very important reason.
As you can see, I have my feet on a wedge that exceeds the wedge of a typical Olympic lift shoe. This allows the knees to move far forward over the toes, which breaks the quadriceps and keeps the upper body vertical. This is a smart choice for lifters struggling with front squats due to poor rack positioning or kyphosis.
The arms stay comfortably at the sides. More importantly, many tall lifters struggle to achieve sufficient dorsiflexion to make squat patterns a true quad builder (due to insufficient knee flexion and overall reach). Using such an aggressive heel wedge creates an excess of dorsiflexion, making it easier to achieve the correct geometry. This can be a game changer for your quad growth.
And make no mistake – it’s not the same as a pair of thick plates under your heels. This leads to more stretching of the plantar fascia and ligaments compared to a wedge and frustrates you with higher loads.
As an extra, I decided to keep duck feet. When you keep your heels close together things really get four-intense. Try after pushing legs when you are nice and tired. Aim for high reps.
Related: The Bodyweight Workout for Big Guys
Related: 7 Tips for Long-Legged Lifters