3 Challenges Only Tall People Will Encounter In The Gym

Health & Fitness

At 6 feet, 5 inches tall, I have run into my fair share of height-related inconveniences. For example, the ever-shrinking distance between rows on an airplane has made even short flights a grueling experience. I also have roughly the same odds of finding clothes that fit me as the Cleveland Browns have of winning a football game. And ceiling fans are a serious hazard to my health. But none of these frustrations compare to that which I, or any tall guy or gal, experience at the gym.


None of this is any excuse to fail your next physical fitness test or not get as big as the next guy; it just means that as a tall guy or gal you’ll have to do more work than your shorter counterparts. What are the most infuriating aspects of staying fit for we, the vertically unchallenged? Here are the top three.

Calisthenics

DoD photo by Benjamin Faske

Physics is a real son-of-a-bitch when it comes to tall service members and calisthenics. Bodyweight exercises become more difficult the taller you get, because muscle power tends to increase linearly, while mass increases exponentially. Basically, the bigger you are, the less efficient your power output is. Absolute power does increase with your size (obviously), but it does so with diminishing returns. For those in the military, this is the one area of fitness that can literally determine if you get that next promotion since it’s the main component of every branch’s physical fitness test. The only solution: Exercise more.

Push-ups, specifically, are the bane of every tall service member due to our longer arms, which in turn requires more physical exertion to travel the greater distance per repetition. A soldier can complete 50 repetitions faster than a taller soldier, because it literally takes more time for the taller soldier to complete each repetition. Again, this is due to the greater distance travelled. If you only have two minutes, that means a shorter service member will always be able to complete more repetitions than someone taller who has the same degree of muscular strength and endurance.

Ask any tall Marine, and they’ll tell you pull-ups suck for them, too. Once again, it all comes down to the longer arms and greater distance traveled. Physics will tell you a shorter lever is more efficient than a long one, and efficiency is pretty damn important when it comes to muscular endurance. And don’t even get me started on how us skyscrapers can usually grab the bars with both feet still flat on the ground. And no, that doesn’t make it easier; it’s a pain in the ass actually.

Cable Machines

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brett Clashman

I don’t use the cables much, so I reached out to fellow tall guy Scott Whisler. He thinks cable machines are a real pain in the ass. “It's harder to use them because of the longer range of motion for exercises that require me to back up farther in order to keep tension on the cable,” he says. With longer arms comes the need for longer cables. Unfortunately, most gyms don’t accommodate that very specific need.

The positioning of the pulleys can also cause damage to the joints over time. All of those machines are engineered with generic human measurements in mind, so when a tall bro or broette steps into the cables, the angles are all off for the same movements everyone else is doing. This is part of the reason I avoid cables like the plague. At my altitude, it’s just asking for an overuse injury.

Lifts

DoD photo by Benjamin Faske

I’ve already covered the whole “greater distance” aspect ad nauseam, but it bears repeating when it comes to performing lifts. At its core, lifting weights is picking heavy things up and putting them back down, over and over again. Otherwise known as “doing work.” In physics, work is the product of force multiplied by distance. Tall folks have a greater range of motion and thus have to travel a further distance, resulting in doing more work with the same amount of weight lifted as a smaller guy. More work means they will tire out faster with fewer repetitions completed.

Physics being what they are, people of the tall variety also deal with benches that are too short, squat racks that always need adjusting, and going overhead with a bar isn’t always possible depending on ceiling height. Us lanky types even have to take what coaches say with a grain of salt, like, “Don’t let your knees go forward past your toes.” Yeah, roger that, coach…

But we have it made on the rower!

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anderson W. Branch

Outside of our statuesque good looks and natural sex appeal, we actually have a legitimate advantage in the gym when it comes to rowing. Due to our longer leavers, we can make longer strokes (there’s a joke in there somewhere…), which means a greater distance covered for each repetition. If all variables are the same for two individuals except for their height in a 2,000-meter sprint, the taller rower will always finish first. If you are an avid Crossfitter who attends group classes, you’ll notice that those beanstalk-looking dudes usually finish on the rower before everyone else. But don’t worry, you’ll catch up with them on, well, almost anything else you have next. Especially the damn pull-ups!

An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)

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Then the rhythmic clapping begins.

This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.

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"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."



Well, I feel better. How about you?

On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.

"We do not know where they are," James Jeffrey told members of Congress of the 100+ escaped detainees. ISIS has about 18,000 "members" left in Iraq and Syria, according to recent Pentagon estimates.

A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."

"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.

President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.

"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."

The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."

Trump said that "small number of U.S. troops" would remain in Syria to protect oilfields.


Kade Kurita (U.S. Army photo(

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