Nothing is ever guaranteed but if you are a relatively short guy or girl competing in Crossfit you definitely have an advantage over someone 6 inches taller than you. That doesn’t mean that you have no chance to compete if you’re a tall athlete, all it means is that in a large number of workouts and movements you have to work harder and be stronger to perform the same workout.
That’s still no excuse to not be as good as you should be. Brent Fikowski took home second place this year and he’s 6’2 while Fraser is only 5’6.
Just like in all sports there are tall athletes and short athletes, and you have to figure out how to win regardless of height. Short athletes in the NBA have a much harder job scoring than the 7 footers, but yet you still see the occasional person under 6 foot in the NBA. Everyone has what they need and you just need to work harder.
With that in mind lets look at the advantages and disadvantages of being a taller athlete when it comes to competing in Crossfit and how you can strategize your workouts depending on what will benefit you best.
The number one disadvantage for taller Crossfitters is purely our range of motion, taller athletes like myself have to travel a longer distance to complete the same rep. This article about taller lifters explains it perfectly:
“Let’s say you have a 5’9 lifter doing a full range squat with 225 pounds. He goes through a 24-inch descent (his eccentric rep) and returns to the starting position, so that his total range of motion spans 48 inches.
Now, take a 6’3 guy, same situation (2 plate squat and full ROM). His descent might be 30 inches to get to the bottom of the hole, for a total ROM of 60 inches. That’s a 1 foot difference per rep than the shorter guy. Multiply that by a set of 10 reps and you’ve got 10 feet of extra distance covered by the taller guy in that one set. He did more work in his set with the same weight of what appears to be exactly the same movement with the same “demands.”
Movements where this extra ROM comes into play include:
Any type of squatting:
– Air squats
– Front squats
– Back squats
– Overhead squats
Not only will your legs hurt you but so will your longer arms, especially on overhead movements like the presses. This is because it takes a few more inches up and down each time to lock out your arms.
Any type of pressing:
– Strict press
– Push press
– Push jerk
– Bench press
As you can see, the barbell is not kind to the taller Crossfit athlete, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have our advantages as well. In some areas, mostly the mono-structural work, we actually get rewarded for having longer limbs.
– Wall balls
– Box jumps
– Rope climbs
– GHD sit ups
Of course this doesn’t mean that you can’t be a tall athlete and have a great deadlift or squat, and it doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically be good at wall-balls either. Everyone has their individual strengths and weaknesses and the key to succeeding in Crossfit is eliminating all weaknesses.
One unique advantage taller athletes do have however, is the ability to generally hold more muscle which can definitely help when it comes to heavy weightlifting. It is much harder to add size on a longer frame than a shorter one, but if you can add it slowly it will benefit your lifts.
EX: A 225 pound power clean is only 10 pounds over body weight for an athlete like Brent Fikowski that weighs 215, while that same 225 pound clean is 60 pounds over body weight for a short athlete like Dakota Rager that weighs around 165.
If you’re a tall Crossfit athlete it is definitely going to be an uphill better for you, but that is why it is going to feel so great every time you beat a shorter athlete in a workout that is better suited for them.
If you’re a shorter athlete reading this then just flip flop the advantages with the disadvantages and that is what benefits you and doesn’t benefit you so well.
Either way, work on your weaknesses and find a way to win.