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How Limb Length Impacts Your Lifts

How Limb Length Impacts Your Lifts

If you’ve ever struggled with a movement that looks easy for one person but doesn’t just seem to click for you, it may be a matter of extremity length instead of you being weak or inflexible.

I’d never really thought about having long arms as a kid. I kind of noticed that when I did exercises in a quadruped (all fours) position I seemed to be tilted upright compared to everyone else, but well, my arms were straight and my back was flat! If my form was correct, though, my back line was definitely not parallel to the ground. Somehow, the thought that I was both short in stature and long-limbed didn’t register.

A Pilates mentor broke it down: some of us have datschund (short) arms, some have gorilla (long) arms. I prefer to think of them as a wingspan, thanks! The same absolutely goes for legs: some go on for miles, where others feel short and stubby by comparison.

Even when a person may be in ideal positioning for some exercises, their limbs will also have an impact on how movements can be performed. Where my long arms are beneficial for performing aerial movements, in traditional lifts, I have to move the weight further to complete the contraction or extension. Someone with shorter arms may find it easier to perform activities like bicep curls and pushups. Likewise, a runner with long legs may be able to cover more ground, where one with shorter legs may be able to move more rapidly.

When lifting, long arms with short legs can make hinge exercises much easier! They won’t have to fold forward as much before the weight or fingers hit the ground. Honestly, it’s part of how I can cheat when it comes to forward folds.

Trunk length can also impact movements, most noticeably showing during spinal twists and side bends.

What’s this all mean? It means that working to identify where your movement struggles originate can hugely benefit how you move.

If you feel like you struggle with your body and form, let me know. I’d love to see how I can help!

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