We know that a very positive ape index is an advantage in the deadlift, boxing/MMA fighting, swimming and rock climbing.

But in everyday lifting?

Can a positive ape index – at least a very positive one – actually be a disadvantage in the lifting you do in everyday life?

Look at the woman below. She has a mammoth ape index. Of course it’s photoshopped but the exaggeration will clearly make what’s coming easy to understand.

Can you imagine how bloody easy it would be for her to deadlift a ton of weight? Never mind that she’d dread kettlebell swings.

But with the deadlift there’d be no bending over; just grab and pull a little and technically, she’s performed a complete deadlift even though the weight is only a few inches off the floor.

Imagine her climbing a wall: Just place her hands wherever and then prance her feet up to the next footholds.

Imagine her swimming … like a torpedo. And don’t get her mad at you; she’ll punch your head off from across the room.

Positive Ape Index Disadvantage in Daily Lifting Tasks

Her spine hardly moves as she slips her hands under a 50 pound crate and lifts it off the ground.

But then something interesting happens when she tries to lift that crate high enough to put on a waist-high shelf.

She can’t get the box up. Her arms are too long. Imagine her trying to move that crate, that she’s holding straight-armed (top of a deadlift motion), to a waist-high platform or shelf.

The range of motion to transfer the 50 pounds from so low to waist high would be significant.

It’d be no problem if her height matched her arms. A height matching her arms (zero ape index) would change the relativity of the range of motion.

But because her shoulders are so close to the ground, relative to the length of her arms, it’s just impossible for her to hoist that 50 pound crate to waist level. This is basic physics of leverage.

Imagine you’re sitting and holding a five-foot-long spoon out before you. In it is a 10 pound rock. You can lift the spoon up to parallel to the floor.

Imagine the spoon grows in length by 20 feet but stays the same weight. It’s going to be a lot more difficult to get that spoon parallel to the ground with the 10 pound rock in it – simply due to its length, which in physics is called the resistance arm.

When the very positive ape index woman tries to get her arms out before her to put the crate on a waist-high ledge, she’s dramatically increasing the resistance arm. Her “effort arm” is exceedingly short.

Though this example is wildly exaggerated, the same principle would apply, though on a less dramatic scale, to someone with a +6 ape index trying to rack weight.

Lamar Gant’s ape index appears to be more than +6. Imagine him using his long arms to get the barbell (if just 95 pounds) over his head.

The racking could be in the form of loading a pickup truck, placing heavy items on high shelves and even hip-high ledges, carrying heavy things from point A to point B with arms wrapped around them against the trunk, and of course – racking barbells at the gym.

Advantage of Negative Ape Index in Everyday Lifting

The person with, say, a -4 ape index will have to bend over quite a bit to pick a heavy crate off the ground, or will have to squat deeply to get in position. They are at a sad disadvantage.

But once they straighten, crate held with straight arms, it will be easier for them to hoist it to a chest high or shoulder high ledge than if they had a +4 ape index.

The relative ROM is shorter, but also, the starting point of the weight as it travels to the ledge is higher off the ground due to the shorter arms.

Though people with the positive ape index are blessed at pulling weights off the ground, they’re disadvantaged with overhead movements.

Those with T-rex arms are stiffed when pulling heavy weight off the ground, but once they’re at the top of the movement (arms straight), it’s easier for them to continue lifting – a relatively shorter range of motion – to get the weight to a shelf or overhead.

If you want someone to put your super heavy baggage into an overhead airplane compartment, someone with T-rex arms will be better able to do this than a same-height person with orangutan arms.

People with a negative ape index are particularly at an advantage over their positive peers when the heavy item is ALREADY on a ledge and simply needs to be transferred to another ledge or platform.

The T-rex person will have a much easier time picking it off the shelf and moving it to a higher shelf.

People with negative ape indices sometimes feel cheated. But they must remember:

They score big with overhead lifts – which are frequently needed in the activities of daily living, not just in Olympic style weightlifting competitions.

Those with positive ape indices are proud of their deadlifts and advantage in throwing things and in doing certain sports, but the “spider” arms are more likely to struggle with lifting heavy things upward.

That all said, if you train your body hard with sizzling workouts and practice textbook form, you can learn to lift heavy overhead despite a positive ape index, and learn to deadlift heavy despite having T-rex arms.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 



Top image: Shutterstock/Thaninee Chuensomchit