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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 05-13-2014, 06:57 AM   #11
Luke Sirakos
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Re: Are Pull Ups Easier for Small People?

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Originally Posted by Blair Robert Lowe View Post
Yes and no. Some of it depends on limb lengths. Bigger bones can attach more muscle actually at the muscle attachment sites but obviously they have to combat greater leverage forces.



Luke, actually there are more than a handful of "Taller" gymnasts, especially in College. Not quite elite and you'll rarely see them on Pommel Horse or Still Rings but there was actually a floor champion a few years ago that was around 6'. Mind you, he was a FX champ and more of an AAer. And also male. Svetlana Khorkina was considered very tall at 5'6"/7" and was one of the best but she was also built very lightly. Still I've seen plenty of taller girls in Collegiate gymnastics around 5'6" or even more. There was one at UCB that was built more like a Volleyball player.
I would say those are the exception rather than the rule. Also, I don't consider 5'6" very tall. I am not saying it is impossible to be a taller gymnast but growing up having to watch my sister compete through the years it was pretty obvious that more people stopped as they hit their growth spurts and the shorter ones were the ones who typically continued on.
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Old 05-13-2014, 08:03 AM   #12
Shawn M Wilson
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Re: Are Pull Ups Easier for Small People?

This issue is weight vs strength required

It takes less effort to lift a 100lb bar than a 200lb bar.

While a taller or bigger body may allow for more area to be covered by muscle we realize it is harder to often do so at the same ratio for a smaller and lighter person.

A guy who has 3 foot arms vs a guy with 4 foot arms can "pack" on muscle a lot easier compare to the bigger guy. Now if we could give them both an equal amount of muscle to strength ratio, the taller guy would be considered a beast because of the amount of muscle he would need to achieve a similar look.

One also reaches a point where adding more strength / muscle becomes a bad thing as the persons weigt keeps going up.

The short guy puts on 20lbs of upper body muscle, looks "huge" for his size and easily lifts his body in a pull-up. However for the 200lb guy to achieve the same result/look may require a 50lb+ gain which makes it even more weight to move.

Now with extra muscle and size we start to look at the ability of those muscles and joints and tendons, hands, grip, etc to support large quantities of pull-ups.

Throwing down 20 pull-ups may be hard on many. Start adding kipping and those shoulders take a beating at 250lbs+. Ones hands are also experiencing more force and grinding vs the 120lb guy.

All in all, pound per pound wise the smaller guys often achieve better strength to weight ratios because of how our bodies are built and how the scale starts to curve the heavier one gets. Can a bigger guy have a larger "single" lift. Sure but the shorter guy excels at body weight stuff because he weighs less
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Old 05-19-2014, 10:35 PM   #13
Dakota Base
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Re: Are Pull Ups Easier for Small People?

What I have not read reported is how a single PERSON has actually experienced changes in capability to handle pull ups at varying bodyweights.

I have been in good shape and 'bad shape' at both ends of my bodyweight spectrum, a super fit/strong ~165 and a sloppy 165, a super fit/strong 195 and a sloppy 195, as well as a "leaned out" 150-155 on a couple occasions in that time period. Obviously when things are sloppy, pull ups are harder than when fit, but comparatively, I'd say without a doubt it has been easier to do pull-ups when I was pulling less bodyweight.

I also happen to be obsessed with pull-ups. Strict normally, weighted quite often, and only kipping when I'm practicing/training for a Crossfit competition.

I can recall that in "So-so" shape at 165-175, pulling 25 pull ups was manageable, maybe I could eek out 30 if I wanted it. In wrestling shape at 160-175lbs, 40-50 strict pull ups was my normal 1 set max. In both cases, that was a failure by energy, then I could jump up and hit the second set within about 5 pull ups of the 1st set number, and feel fine the next day.

AT MY BEST SHAPE above 190lbs, sustaining 6.5min/mile average pace for 10-20mile runs, and benching 1RM of 320-330lbs, doing 30 pull-ups was a chore. 30 pull ups at 190 and I'd be sore the next day, even if I didn't do anything else that day.

In the few instances that I've cut muscle and gotten my bodyweight down to 150-155lbs over those years, 30 pull-ups became a joke. 20 could happen, but 25 was begging for it.

There's a tipping point where adding more muscle suddenly requires more muscle than itself to simply carry itself.

I suppose the biggest difference is that the majority of your muscle gains are NOT in your pull-up muscles. I'm sure if a guy could put on 20lbs of lats, biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis, and rear deltoids, and not gain mass anywhere else, then I'm sure he'd be a pull-up champ even with the extra mass, but I'm not sure I'd want to follow that programming.
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Old 06-03-2014, 08:59 AM   #14
mike vinson
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Re: Are Pull Ups Easier for Small People?

there was always a lot more 114's benching 228 than the 275ers benching 550 back when PLUSA kept a top 100.
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Old 06-03-2014, 05:52 PM   #15
David Meverden
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Re: Are Pull Ups Easier for Small People?

So to summarize:
YES, pullups are easier for you as a smaller guy due to physics and perhaps anatomy.
NO that does not mean that the slackers at the firehouse have an excuse for not being able to do pullups. They should suck it up, accept that it will be a little bit tougher for them, and get strong enough to do it anyway.
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Old 06-03-2014, 06:09 PM   #16
Luke Sirakos
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Re: Are Pull Ups Easier for Small People?

If they are having trouble with pull-ups tell them to look into the "greasing the groove" technique (http://www.leanandmuscular.org/greasing-the-groove.php - wfs). It can be really helpful for things like pull-ups. Or they could lose some weight.
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Old 06-03-2014, 09:04 PM   #17
Robert Fabsik
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Re: Are Pull Ups Easier for Small People?

As long as we can reach the bar, they are easier for us smaller folk.
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:56 PM   #18
Stephen Smith
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Re: Are Pull Ups Easier for Small People?

It really just comes down to the square/cube law. If you keep the body proportions identical, someone who is 2x as tall will have 4x as much muscle cross-section, but will weight 9x as much. Obviously we're talking about much smaller deltas, but the principle is the same. To bring it down to realistic differences, start with someone 68" tall who weighs 180#. Someone built exactly the same who was 10% taller would be about 75" tall, would have 1.21x as much muscular cross section but would weigh 1.331x as much, or 240#.

That being said, any human being within the normal size spectrum has no excuse not to be able to knock out some pull-ups. So, unless you're working with some people the size of Andre the Giant they shouldn't be using this excuse to not do at least SOME pull-ups.
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Old 06-04-2014, 01:23 PM   #19
Mike Doehla
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Re: Are Pull Ups Easier for Small People?

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Originally Posted by Brian Lowry View Post
I'm a relatively small guy (5' 10" 170lbs) and can do a fair amount of pull ups both strict and kipping. I'm a big proponent of the importance of pull ups as it relates to firefighting and firefighter safety. But I always get the response from bigger guys at work (that can't do pull ups) that its easy for a smaller guy like me.
I disagree with them and say that I'm still pulling the same % of body weight. I argue that it's more muscle vs mass than just mass alone..
Does this make sense? Can anyone with more of a exercise physiology background provide more data or rational?
They're right.
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Old 06-04-2014, 01:29 PM   #20
Mike Doehla
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Re: Are Pull Ups Easier for Small People?

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Originally Posted by Dakota Base View Post
I can recall that in "So-so" shape at 165-175, pulling 25 pull ups was manageable, maybe I could eek out 30 if I wanted it. In wrestling shape at 160-175lbs, 40-50 strict pull ups was my normal 1 set max. In both cases, that was a failure by energy, then I could jump up and hit the second set within about 5 pull ups of the 1st set number, and feel fine the next day.
40-50 Strict? Dead hang? This may be the most impressive thing I've read on this site.
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