Super tall men with relatively short femurs have a squat advantage over shorties with relatively long femurs ANY DAY.
Many believe that being tall interferes with doing a parallel squat because, allegedly, it’s troublesome to get long legs bent under one’s upper body.
But with long legs comes a longer trunk (because in tall people, everything is longer) to help offset the tendency to “fall backwards” while doing a squat.
A typical 6-4 man has a longer torso than a typical 5-4 man.
If someone stands 5-10 and has legs as long as the average 6-4 person, there will be a big problem with squatting parallel, because the torso for this person is too short to offset femur length.
Likewise, take those same legs; put them on someone with a torso long enough to put them at 6-8, and we now have a nice combination for the parallel squat … unless the femurs are super-crazy long in relation to the shin length.
Tall people can have short femurs.
How is it that in strongman competitions these very tall guys are squatting thunderous amounts of weight?
Look at their femurs! Their thigh bones are NOT relatively long (compared to shin length). Many appear rather “stubby.”
Another venue where short femurs on tall people are evident is in the world of runway modeling and in the models in glamour magazines.
Models are tall, many being 5-10 and 5-11. Google leg images for your favorite tall movie star and look at her femurs; some will be relatively short.
Tall People and the Parallel Squat
So when I hear tall people announcing, “I can’t squat parallel because I’m tall,” I really wonder.
The parallel squat can be very difficult for a SHORT person with relatively long femurs to shin ratio (or to torso length).
The body build that is often not built for squatting is that of the elite marathon runner.
They rarely have relatively short femurs and often have high waists (short torsos), which helps reduce drag when running.
The long femur and short torso duo is a wicked combination for parallel back squats. A 5-2 person can have this anthropometry.
A very tall person can have short femurs (relative to shin length and/or torso length), making them well-built for the parallel squat.
An important point is that many competitive Olympic-style weightlifters, who do well in competition, are tall.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.