Giants VS Little People – Body Fat, Metabolism, Lean Body Mass, etc.

April 12, 2010

People don’t talk enough about height and how it relates to body composition, calories burned, muscle gains, etc. I’m a tall guy at just a hair over 6’3″, but I’m envious of shorter people at times.

I figured why not get the discussion going about height. Using my mad graphic skillz (not really), I came up with this masterpiece.

Giants vs Little People

[Everyone knows Chewbacca, but only the true geeks like me know what’s happening on the right. A young Gary Coleman posing with “Twiki” from Buck Rogers. Twiki carried a computer around his neck named “Dr. Theopolis”. Buck Rogers is worth watching if you get the chance…for the cheesy disco music and bad special effects. Hilarious!]

Height and Plays a Large Role in Lean Mass

Your lean mass is basically everything on your body that isn’t body fat. This is different than muscle mass. Your lean mass includes, bones, organs, water, muscles.

A taller person will naturally have bigger organs, bigger bones, more water, than a shorter person. So they (will typically) have a higher lean body mass than a shorter person even without much muscular development.

Tall people have a huge advantage in lean mass…which means they will typically burn more calories than their shorter friends. But what if someone is shorter but more muscular?

Your Organs Burn More Calories Than Your Muscles

I’m 6’3″ and 190…I have a good friend who is 5’10 and 190. We are roughly the same body fat percentage. He has more muscle, so you would think that he would have a higher RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate). That assumption would be wrong.

I will burn substantially more calories than him. Roughly 60% of RMR is from organs and 40% from muscle.

Since I am tall, he will have to reach a higher lean body mass than me to reach the same RMR.

The Biggest Mistake I See Muscular People Make

I was going to do this post just on this idea alone. It is probably the biggest “takeaway”. Guys in particular who get big believe they need many more calories due to their increase in muscle mass. Adding muscle contributes very little to calories burned (even less than I used to believe).

Think along the lines of 6 calories per pound of muscle each day. So adding 20-30 pounds of lean muscle is just an extra 120-180 calories burned per day.

30 Pounds of Muscle Fails Against One Pack of Skittles


[Adding 30 pounds sounds like a impressive feat…and it is…but can’t touch the power of just one pack of Skittles. I haven’t had a pack of Skittles in a long time, but is is right up there with Swedish Fish, Red Vines, and Gummy Bears in pure deliciousness.]

Adding Muscle Makes a Bigger Impact on a Shorter Person

As a somewhat tall guy, I can add 5 pounds of muscle and it won’t be as noticeable as someone 6 inches shorter doing the same thing.

The advantage of being shorter is that you don’t have to spend as much time adding muscle to achieve a certain look compared to someone who is taller.

Another advantage is the increased leverage a shorter person has when it comes to lifting. I used to work out with a guy who was 8 inches shorter than me back in high school. It was frustrating how much stronger he was in many of the lifts…especially the bench press. It took me a couple of years to just bench 225 pounds and I think he was doing it within a few weeks of training. Stupid long arms!

Eating With a Taller Person or Lifting With A Shorter Person

As a relatively tall person I have much more wiggle room when it comes to diet than most people. More often than not, I simply have a higher RMR than a person who is shorter than me. I still can’t pig out and expect to be lean, but I will have a slightly easier time than a shorter person (everything else being equal). When it comes to the gym it is a different deal.

Guys who are in the 5’6″ – 5’10” range with the same amount of lifting experience often are stronger than me in certain lifts (mainly pressing movements like bench or military press).

This isn’t always the case, but just a trend I notice.

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

John Forsberg April 12, 2010 at 6:30 pm

It seems guys with shorter limbs would have an advantage in a lot of exercises simply due to having to work against shorter levers and having to move shorter distances.

Tall Dude April 12, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Yeah, I get what you are saying. I can eat a ton more than my friends and not worry about weight. I am pretty young and I hear that will change.

Is that true?

Ray April 12, 2010 at 6:58 pm

While you are kind of envious of shorter people because their inherit leverage, us short people are envious of the taller person’s leaner/longer look when we would have the same amount of muscle if you know what I mean. The same total muscle mass is what I guess I mean to say. And that’s not even taking in the fact that most women like a taller leaner man then a shorter stockier man.

But I can see where you are coming from. Performance wise it is very hard to reach the level that shorter people have. You never see tall people setting lifting records. Most are very very short stocky guys with very short looking arms and probably a 60-65 inch chest or bigger haha. Like you said it has some to do with leverage…and also I would add that they have less of a distance to push anywhere and they have better centers of gravity then taller men.

Btw I would just like to say thank you for all your posts, I’ve been reading on your site for about a year or so…and just reading your site and practicing a lot of what you teach has changed my whole life. I used to want to be a big guy and thought that how you got a great body was just from a bunch of weight lifting…and I hated cardio. I’m only 22 and when I got out of high school I was 5’11 and about 185…pretty strong from a bunch of lifting weights in baseball…I wasn’t really huge…most of it was in my legs anyways but I also had a decent size upper body.

After about 3 years I just was letting my self go and last July I went on a short vacation and when I got back I had got up to 205! haha, so I really started practicing a lot of what you have been spreading through your blogs, emails and posts on this site…doing all the different exercise routines and eating about as perfect as I could(cheating on a lot of days too which is great! lol) and now I’m down to 165-170, around a 8-9 percent body fat and my abs are actually starting to be pretty visible…working on water retention at the moment…hope that helps,

Getting married in July, a year from when I was 205 and starting to look fat…and I’m gonna be in great shape..because of you so thanks a ton Rusty.

Steven April 12, 2010 at 7:02 pm

As someone who is 5’9″ and currently 155lbs, I can certainly attest to the height ordeal. But, it is also dependent on genetics. I am fortunate, (or unfortunate), depending on how you look at it, to be able to put on lots of muscle (or bulk in general) by just sitting around thinking about it. One crossfit style workout for me and I’m noticeably swollen. I have found that for me, staying between 150lbs, (my ideal) to 160 lbs, I look, feel and perform my best. For someone who is 5’9″ or as you state Rusty, between the 5’6″ – 5’10” range, there is definitely a noticeable difference even with just 5 or so pounds. These 5 lbs though, also depend on diet. More often than not, heavy carb intake leads to a more bloated or “water retention” look. It may not be an actual 5 pound increase in bodyweight per se, but certain dietary choices and intake can make it look otherwise. I personally do best with a lower to moderate carb intake (10%), extremely high fat intake (about 60-70%) and moderate protein intake (20-30%). My workouts consist of a session of all-out sprints once a week with one or two intermittent bouts a week of heavy weights and/or body weight exercise with some mix of heavy bag work. This lifestyle (not “regimen or diet”–bad words) have kept me lean and in great shape for years. I still wouldn’t mind having a couple of more inches but, since turning 30 last month, I’m prrrretty sure… that’s not going to happen. 5’9″ it is!

Ray April 12, 2010 at 7:04 pm


Like Rusty said it has a lot to do with all your organs being much bigger/longer…while your muscles don’t work 100% of the time all of your organs usually are so I would kind of guess that has some stuff to do with why organs burn a lot more calories then muscle.

But be careful, while you can get away with eating a lot more then your friends, try to stay by the guidelines on your certain size and nutrition plans. Rusty says don’t worry about your weight at one time ever, but just moniter it, eat a little more protein calories if you want to gain a bit of weight but don’t overdo it…if you don’t actually put those protieins to use they’ll probably just turn to fat. If you start gaining too much weight ease up a little on your calorie intake weekly. After a while you can just naturally know how much you should be eating.

Chaka April 12, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Great post. I was just lifting with a short friend on Saturday and noticed this. I was sickened at how easy it was for him to bench press. He only had to move the weight a few inches. I am your same height and my knuckes drag on the floor when I walk. I am thankful for my height now, but back in grade school when we had the presidential fitness challenge, none of the taller kids who you found on the back row of school pictures could squeek out more than 1 pull up.

Aaron Curl April 12, 2010 at 8:38 pm

At 6’1″ I have always been jealous of the shorter bulkier guys, but I came to grips with my lean tall look. Some people say i am skinny then I give them the double biceps pose and show them I have muscle….lol.

Vaiidya April 12, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Hey Rusty,
Firstly, you have no idea how refreshing it is to find a site solely dedicated to the more toned and athletic look than all the extra bulky mambo-jambo. But I know this comment isn’t supposed to be here in this article, but I just found this website and wanted to ask you something, so chose the most recent article.
I am 6′ tall and currently 174lbs, 20yrs old, but I have like 19% body fat and do light workouts sometimes. Looking at your blog, now I have developed a good plan for my workouts. I have both your books too. But what I wanted to achieve is more like the “Taylor Kitsch” look. He is Gambit in the 2009 Wolverine movie!! That’s my goal, how should I go about trying to achieve that. Time is not a factor!! I am pretty patient haha!!
– Karan

Amanda April 12, 2010 at 10:50 pm

I also missed you while you were gone! I was *forced* to go back and read the archives.

I’d like to see more people talking about how differences in basic body types affects diet, nutrition, and the ultimate outcome of one’s body. Think about how many women bought Tracy Anderson’s workout DVD’s hoping for Gwyneth’s long and lean look! Not to say one can’t be short and be lean looking…

Meg April 12, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Rusty, I hope you had a wonderful and warm vacation. I still remember Buck Rogers; Gil Gerard was one of my first crushes. πŸ˜€
I’m pretty tall for a woman (5’11”) and no doubt about it, I get lots more calories than my shorter friends and still maintain my weight. I’m glad for it, but I’ve always feel “gangly” when I exercise. I’m currently on an outrigger canoe paddling team, and when I use my full reach to paddle, it feels like I am barely keeping up with my shorter teammates. It just takes more time to move longer limbs through any given motion. I guess the grass it always greener on the other side…

Please Don't Diet April 13, 2010 at 12:59 am

At 5-11ish and 190 lbs., I’m wondering what the ideal height would be for most guys. While I would argue that it’s just 1-2 inches above 6 ft, my observation reeks of “grass is greener on the other side” bias.

katie April 13, 2010 at 1:18 am

Hi Rusty, you have great site.
I am a 21 year old college student weighing 101 pounds and am 5′ 3 “. My whole body is thin however I have a lot of fat around hips to lose as it looks awkward. Unfortunately, after I hit the gym and by just doing cardio for 45 min in total for a week, i have started developing muscle behind my right thigh making it look bulky while my left thigh is still slim. My sessions are: 15 min jogging on the treadmill, 15 on stationary bike, 15 min on the recumbent bike; with all on the lowest level. My diet consists of skim milk with special K for breakfast for lunch whole wheat bread with veg and dinner is salad.
Although, I had remained relatively enthusiastic with my workout plan, the muscle that is popping out behind my right thigh is heart breaking as i had always had slim thighs.

recently i started intermittent fasting and only jogging for 15 min(for the past 4 days) yet my thigh muscle started expanding rather than contracting. Please suggest me how to reduce the muscle of my right thigh to make it slim again and lose the hip fat fast. Pl also suggest the exercises (in the gym) and diet I should follow.And also would streching exercises make me slim down my right thigh?

Thank you in advance.

LALA April 13, 2010 at 1:31 am

Hey Rusty welcome back..hope you had a great time on your trip!! You deserve a vacation!! I wanted your suggestion on how women can lower their bodyfat..I feel like im in a rut and need some suggestions?

Will April 13, 2010 at 2:10 am

Hey Rusty, I would like to say thankyou for all of the great advice you give, really does act as a great motivator, excellent source of info and money saver as i never bother buying mens health since finding your site lol.

I have been reading all of your posts since October last year but this is my first comment.

Following your advice, particularly in regards to diet, HIIT and lifting at low rep/ high weight, i have reached by Body fat percentage goal of 7% and currently weigh 158 pounds with rather good definition and strength. Naturally i now want to go to the next level with my training and reach new goals.

I was contemplating training 2 muscle groups per month, so shoulders and tris, back and biceps and then chest and legs, taking 3 months total. A method similar to the one discussed in your post “A big mistake when it gaining muscle muscle mass”. Do you believe that this would allow me to achieve my goal of creating more dense, visually impressive muscle while gaining a little lean mass (which i believe i can afford to do at 6’1 and 156 pounds)??? Looking for physique similar to Taylor Lautner/ Ryan Reynalds

Thanks for everything again

Odine April 13, 2010 at 2:26 am

I have long been one of growth and weight:)

Vladimir April 13, 2010 at 4:14 am

Hi Rusty,

I’m 185 pound and 5’9 tall. i weight 175, my ideal weight is below 160, i want to lose weight and get the Hollywood look, but my gym membership expired so i have to work out at home. So my question is

is it enough to sprint and do circuit training to lose fat, but still maintain muscle?

My regimen is

Monday body weight circuit
Tuesday sprints + jogging
Wednesday body weight circuit
Thursday sprints + jogging

and i forgot to tell you that i do not eat more than 1200 calories per day, my diet is really strict.

Andrew B April 13, 2010 at 6:16 am

To me, height is just another one of those things like genetics (or maybe it still is genetics). Yes it has an impact but in the end it doesn’t really matter as if your in the gym trying to get fit the only thing that matters is factors you can control such as workout, nutrition, hydration etc.

I’d still rather be tall though. I’m 6 foot and pretty happy with it.

Andrew B April 13, 2010 at 6:28 am

Sounds like you’ve got the right idea Karan. Having tried a few times to get into shape, getting most of the way there then regressing and now finally getting it right. I found the most important thing for me was keeping track of my lifts, my body weight and most importantly for me my body fat (I use a caliper – its easy to use and gives reproducible results). That way you can see values showing that your body is going the right way, track your increase in lean body mass and fat loss by kg (or lbs if your american). Looking at a graph of these gives you the confidence that your doing the right things when you don’t have such a great workout etc.
Good luck!

gus April 13, 2010 at 7:37 am


this is a topic which is rarely talked about in most fitness sites and if i gott it right your rmr is based mostly uppon height.
butt can you say anything about how many calories a male who is 6″ could eat without putting on any weight or is that imposible to say?

Eat Steak Lose Weight April 13, 2010 at 8:20 am

Sorry, there, submitted without adding my web site.

You’re right Rusty, this is one of those topics that really never comes up, and the amount of calories consumed by the organs vs. the muscles is something I have never heard talked about before. So it sounds like it either comes down to being more disciplined at the table or in the gym. As a shorter guy 5’8″, I think I prefer ignoring the Skittles over busting it in the gym to get the same result as someone else. The big negative to this is that a big guy can also put on more weight without looking disproportionate. Any belly fat on me looks like a potbelly.

The whole “I work out so I have to eat like crazy” myths is one of those things enshrined in pop culture (raw eggs in a glass anyone?). As Alwyn Cosgrove says, you can’t out train a bad diet, so nutrition is #1, and #2, and any type of exercise is number three.

In losing fat, I let my hunger be my guide. It seems a really duh kind of thing to say that you should only eat when your body tells you to eat, but look at the number of people out there scared to skip a regular meal time even when they are not hungry at all.

Farley April 13, 2010 at 8:29 am

Bidi Bidi!

Rusty – what’s up dude? Good post. i’ve been waiting for something other than emails form you. Good to see this morning.

Right up my short alley too! I’m 5′ 7″ and currently 167 (water out of me). Height is definitely important to overall body comp. In my weight loss efforts, I have seen my body reach a set point where the scale stopped moving but the loose-ness of my pants didn’t (i.e. I was putting on muscle and leaning out).

Thing is, it is a slow and patient road to seeing my abs (much like your Kung Fu post explained – it is all patience grasshopper). I have had lean friends who ate like shit, worked out poorly, and still had an overall leans physique with a good set of abs. They soon became enemies (kidding) since I have to bust my ass in the gym and still struggle to get body fat low enough to see my abs.

On the flip side, with my short height, I have broad shoulders and back naturally, I put on mass easily, and while I am leaning out now, I don’t look like a stick figure when I’m naked. :0)

All in all, I say, be happy with the body you have. don’t obsess over everything you think is worng with it (it’s you, really), and enjoy your life! Feel good first, get your mind right, and the body will follow along – even if the height won’t!


Farley April 13, 2010 at 8:34 am

Have you watched the messed up video of Gwenyth working out? Her trainer says women should never lift more than 3 pound dumbells because they will ‘bulk up’. And Gwenyth says you have two choices: Do cardio or starve yourself. Haha! That’s some messed up stuff. How about eat right for your body type, lift for strength and tone, and do cardio for your health!


michael April 13, 2010 at 11:39 am

I’m 5’10 and the good thing for us shorter guys is all the sports cars fit us nicely. I wish I was 6ft though. I put small lifts in my shoes when my girlfriend and I go out she is 5’4 and with 5 inch heels. It is amazing what an inch or two in height can make. Love all your post Rusty.

Anna @ pathtofatloss April 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Hey Rusty, welcome back! How was your vacation?

I love this height and RMR post. No wonder my husband who is 6’3″ has a high metabolism. If he stops eating a little less than normal, he starts losing weight! I do get how the shorter arms have more leverage so they’re stronger. Dang, Physics class won’t make me forget that…haha. I guess I’m just going to have to use my height’s advantages and not worry about the disadvantages.

Thanks for the great post as always!


Rach April 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Hey Rusty – awesome site – I started eat stop eat a few weeks back and just discovered your site– and there are just so many posts in the archives that I totally agree with and couldn’t have put in better words… especially the one about body fat and facial attractiveness… I used to be a fatty and whenever I wore “fashionable” clothes, something seemed “off”…

Since I am a medical student, I do know that your organs burn more calories than your muscles, but you shouldn’t overlook the fact that a tall person is more likely to have longer bones, and since muscle lengths are directly proportional to bone lengths, muscles of a taller person may be longer and potentially proportionately bigger… just a thought.

Luke M-Davies April 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Welcome back to the online world Rusty! Too right for staying away when on vacation – it’s healthy πŸ™‚

I take comfort from this post because like you I’m a leggy, lanky, lean 6’3 guy.

Envy – shorter guys and their arms. I have extra long arms, with very slight forearms and a long muscle belly for my bicep. This means I have to work extra hard to build that bulge most guys want coming from their t-shirt sleeve. That said, my experience has led me to the following conclusions: wrist curls aren’t the answer for building my forearm strength and size; building my tri-ceps is easier than my biceps and can add arm size if that is what you want; and pull-ups are very effective at stimulating my bicep growth.

Despite the above envy, I don’t wish I was any different in height because I believe we have to cherish our unique physiques and work with what we have. Usually, what we may want to change about ourselves is exactly the thing the next person wants.

A piece I wrote about nurturing your unique physique ties in with your encouraging words Rusty –
Hope those that read find it useful and encouraging too.


Tom A April 13, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Hi Rusty, Hope you have time to reply to this.
My situation – 16 years old, 5″11, 146 pounds.
Goal is a Brad Pitt Fight Club/ Cam Gigandet Never Back Down look.
Thing is, I am often mocked for being scrwny, I’m quite lean, but would like to be a bit bigger (10lbs)
I realise I have to gain muscle mass to rech this, but maintain low body fat (pretty defined muscle at the moment)
Hope you can help a friend from across the pond.

IPBrian April 13, 2010 at 4:01 pm

As a shorter person I always complain about my short legs, my torso it tall as heck. I would live to be a bit taller, but thus is life…grass is always greener as many have said above.

A bit off topic, but equally interesting as RMR differences as they relate to height, I find lifting technique fascinating. Check out this youtube video (Mark Rippetoe) on different torso and leg lengths as they relate to how you would position yourself for a deadlift. I find stuff like this is really interesting.

Zorik April 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Hey Rusty,

This is my first comment post. I enjoy your reading your posts ever since I stumbled onto your site back in December! I actually live near your city. I am in Bellevue!

This comment isn’t related to this topic, but I was wondering what are some of the tips you follow when eating out at restaurants and staying as healthy as possible. I know you mentioned its okay to eat out and have your induldgence. But alot of us here go out on average 2 or 3 times a week due to social reasons and meetings due to jobs. So I would really like your opinion on this since alot of people (including me) can’t have too many indulgences without gaining a few pounds (especially now that I am 29 years old lol)



Dorian April 13, 2010 at 6:28 pm

A taller person need 10 pounds of muscle to have the same visual effect effect of 5 pounds of muscles on a shorter person.

But that’s just because there’s more flash area to cover with muscle. But the point is that also more flesh area is contracting when building muscles. Which means that in the same time a short person builds a taller person build 10 pounds of muscles with the same effort.

In other words the height/weight ratio to look good is the same even if the total pounds needed to look muscular or learn are different.

It’s actually a non-issue and it’s actually not true that taller people have a disadvantage.

admin April 13, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Time to respond to as many comments as possible in roughly 2 hours, here goes…


Congrats on your upcoming wedding. You are already at 8%, so you will look great for your wedding if you simply maintain. I bet you look like an entirely different person 40 pounds lighter. You will find it much easier to look good in your tux at this new size as well. Good job!


Very cool…it seems like if you dial in diet and just do a few workouts per week, you will keep the look you are after. So you turned 30? The 20’s go by pretty fast. Me and a lot of my friends turn 40 this year (I am already there a few months ago). It seems just like yesterday I was in college. Makes me want to enjoy each and every day. This life flies by.


Even worse than the bench is how much stronger my shorter friends are at shoulder press. I can beat them in a few pulling movements and squats (when I used to do them)…but pressing movements? Forget it…I got smoked.


6’1″ is in my opinion the perfect height. That is height of most male models, fighter pilots, etc. At 6’3″ I am just a bit too tall for most car seats, jeans, etc.


Glad you asked here, because the meat heads at a lot of the bodybuilding forums would flip if you wanted to look slim and lean like Taylor Kitsch. The ladies dig this look and it works well in hip clothes, etc. Good goal. So his physique is built a lot more on low body fat vs having to add a lot of muscle. I would suggest a low volume of strength training and crush the heck out of it on HIIT. When in doubt, less lifting and a little more intervals. Keep those calories down. If you are 6′ tall and want this look, you will probably have to hit the 160 pound mark (with his level of muscle). So work on dropping roughly 15 pounds of fat. It will take you until sometime in June if you work hard now. Sound good?


Glad to be back. Your site is looking great. I love looking at various fitness blogs and helping out. Anyway…yours has the clean and easy-to-read look with great posts. You should do very well and hopefully people will head on over from my site to check it out. Anyway…some people copy routines of others and assume they will wind up looking like that particular celebrity. Like you mentioned, a lot of genetics involved.


Buck Rogers is hilarious and you go back and watch. It is on cable from time to time. I forgot how much disco music they used until watching not too long ago. As far as canoeing goes, I bet your longer strokes do much more than those with shorter arms.

Please Don’t Diet,

Yeah…6’1″ is probably ideal for a guy.


I have a whole women’s workout program in the works where I address these types of questions, but here is a short version of my advice. Drop stationary bike (both types) for now. Go into your workout completely fasted. Do intervals of one minute fast followed by one minute slow on the treadmill for 15 minutes. Follow that up with a 15-20 minute jog on the treadmill. Don’t eat anything for 2 hours after training. Give this approach 4 weeks before evaluating. The muscles in your legs may appear a tiny bit larger the first week or two before you begin to slim down in that area.


Women will lower their body fat the same way as guys do, but have to choose the proper exercises if they tend to bulk up the lower body easily. I simply don’t have enough time to go over all of that in this post, but will put out the best women’s product on the market within the next few months…because I don’t ignore the fact that women really do put on more muscle than they want…most people give the same advice that “women don’t have to worry about getting too big”…which I believe is a false statement.


Men’s Health is a pretty decent magazine, but I think a lot of it is more for motivation than new info. I’m guessing you meant two muscle groups per week. If you want to add dense mass then stick with 5 reps…if you want to add mass faster, then do more reps 8-15 range….or a mix of both.


The cool thing about getting ripped with just body weight circuits and HIIT is that it creates a nice slim toned look like Cam Gigandet or as Vaiidya mentioned above Taylor Kitsch. You will look slim in clothes, which is good if you wear tailored clothing. Once you go back to lifting at any point in the future your muscles will fill in a bit giving you that shrink wrapped look (think Taylor Lautner). As far as calories go…hopefully you have higher calorie days every now and then…you gotta enjoy the process a bit.


There are too many variables to say how much a 6′ tall person should eat to maintain.

Eat Steak,

I stay away from Skittles most of the time as well, because then it creates an unnatural craving for sweets. They used to sell skittles in a candy dispenser at a Gold’s Gym I belonged to back in the 90’s. The gym owner encouraged people to eat candy after training to help the muscles recover. I understand where he was coming from, but not a good idea if you want to get as lean as possible from your workouts. Agree with you on skipping meals.


“Bidi Bidi” back at ya. People who never watched Buck Rogers have no idea what that means. I have never seen it spelled out, but that is exactly how I imagine it would look in print. Typically the bad eating catches up with even tall guys when they get older. Just look at NBA players like Magic Johnson…the bad eating will catch up at some point. About Gwenyth…I get where she is coming from, because personal trainers do tend to push women to add muscle…but there is a better approach like you mention.


The vacation was great. Went to the Playa Del Carmen area of Mexico (think Cancun for non spring break crowd). Yeah…sitting in a Porsche is kind of a rough deal at my height. The rest of the German cars are made bigger, so I stick with VW’s, Audi’s, etc. If someone gave me a Porsche 911 Turbo, I’d put up with the discomfort however.


The vacation was great…but the food on the Pacific Coast side of Mexico is much better than the Caribbean side. Not that I’m complaining.


Good point about muscle size and height. I guess it also depends on body-type as well. Glad you are liking the site. People understimate how much body fat affects the look of the face and jaw line. Getting to your target weight really helps the appearance of the face.


Great post over on your site. Another long arm freak…good to know there are many of us!


This should be an easy goal for you it will just take a little bit of time. Get stronger in the 5 rep range and don’t fall in the trap of over-eating (which is what most people will recommend). You could probably get to the Cam Gigandet size within 12-18 months if you simply focus on gaining strength while staying lean. At your age it will be just a matter of time. Note: Sometimes the strength gains will come way ahead of any increases in size. If you want to get there even faster then you can do some higher reps for 3 months before you back down to 5 reps.


I did deadlifts for a time when I was younger and it was one of the easiest lifts for me. Although I avoid them now…I’ll take a look at the video. Mark Rippetoe puts out great stuff.


So a Bellevue reader…good deal. So when you eat at Palomino or El Gaucho in Bellevue (not as familiar with the East Side)…Pesos or Matador in Seattle…here is my advice. Order a dinner salad and then split an Entree’ with someone. I do this with my girlfriend all the time. Heck if they have big portions, just get the entree and split it with someone. One last tip…go to Cooper’s on Lake City Way and get their hot wings. The place is kind of old and dark, but the best hot wings I have ever had! Honestly…I get dissapointed whenever I order hot wings from any other bar.

Good comments!


Calvin April 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Hey Rusty,
I’ve been reading your posts for awhile now and I just wanted to say thank you so much! I’ve been doing eat stop eat and lost some weight. I’ve never seen my abs but hopefully they will be visible in the upcoming months. Though I have a question kind off topic from this post if you don’t mind. In one of your previous posts you said building muscle is almost 100% about training. Does this mean I can have a calorie deficit and still build muscle? Thank you for your time and keep up the great posts as usual :D!

– Calvin

Stephanie @ Momentum April 13, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I have never really thought about the impact of height on weight loss. I am a fairly short person (5’2″) and I would have never even thought twice about it making a difference in how I should train. Thanks for the food for thought!

Furious Flynn April 14, 2010 at 3:22 am

Hey, Rusty! First of all, great post. I am of average height, average build with an average amount of muscle. I also have ‘average’ definition in my abs, unless I squeeze them. If I do, they become a lot more defined and more like the guys you see in photos like this:
(Or this, !)
Are all these guys just tensing their abs for the photographs or do they somehow look like that all the time?
I want to look like that all the time!!

Again, excellent post. I found it particularly interesting to see that 20 to 30 pounds of additional lean muscle will only burn an extra 120-180 calories.
Thanks, Rusty πŸ™‚

joe April 14, 2010 at 8:41 am

Stay away from the Internet? Why….whyyyyyyyy?

Sue G April 14, 2010 at 10:01 am

Hi Rusty

Glad to see you remind everyone that muscle does not burn as much energy as conventional wisdom has always said. It speaks to my frustration. I am average height for a woman – 5′ 4″ – well actually now in my late 50s, I am a hair under. So my little organs aren’t burning much. And, being a woman, post menopause – my main goal is to build and maintain muscle mass so I don’t become a little old lady. I work out regularly, some sprints, some body weight ex, some weights, and still don’t seem to go under about 25% bodyfat, which is too much for me. As per your suggestion, I follow most intense workouts with a walk (20 – 60 min depending on time avail). Any suggestions to help me lose more body fat? I eat @ 1500 – 1600 cal per day, mostly Paleo type diet – very low carb.

Kyle April 14, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Rusty, great site. Lots of good information for people looking to improve themselves and their lives.

Robert C. Morreale April 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm


it’s not complicated. i’m going from 12% to 8% now. you need to feel slightly hungry in between meals and go to bed slightly hungry. no more than 3 feedings per day and make sure you allow 4 – 5 hours to pass before your next feeding. this will allow your liver to clear the fat out of your arteries. you will lose weight. most folks under estimate the cals they take in. just embrace a little hunger and the weight will come off.

Robert C. Morreale April 14, 2010 at 1:05 pm


you can also try this, the only cardio i do is power walking. put one of these puppies on and you’re good to go!

Robert C. Morreale April 14, 2010 at 2:18 pm

if you are a beginner and young then yes to an extent but it’s not optimal. my recommendation is get down to 10% bf first for males. then start a 150 – 300 cal surplus to add muscle. you need to experiment. the ideal situation is you eat just enough for repair without adding fat. however that’s easier said than done. so a little fat is unavoidable. don’t let this cycle go much past 5% bf before trimming it off again. it takes time. you will reach your genetic potential in 3 years if you train, eat and rest properly.

Robert C. Morreale April 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm

intended for Calvin

Alex Sotelo April 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I’ve also always noticed how much stronger short guys are than me, especially when it comes to bench press. However, I would never trade my height for any amount of strength being short provides. I can bench well over my body weight so that’s enough for me. AND when you outside the gym, who cares how much you can bench. Most guys lie anyway.

Dane April 14, 2010 at 5:09 pm

It definitely helps to be shorter when it comes to doing exercises like Pullups

Kyle April 14, 2010 at 8:11 pm


Im about 6’2″ and if I eat a lot and lift weights I can slowly get bulkier and have filled out arms and pecs. I did this in the winter up until February, and was at about 210 lbs. One day I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that it was just not attractive, and most of the gains were fat.
After eating less, then recently going on the warrior diet I am at about 174 lbs. I can see the top of my abs if the lighting is there, so I’m not ripped at all yet, and everyone I know said that I got “way skinnier”. A girl said I look a lot better, but my arms got a lot smaller. I only lost a little bit of strength, so is there nothing I can do to not look “lanky”?

basically the arms are for respect from the bros, and abs are for the girls. Ill take the abs lol.

Calvin April 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Hi Rusty,
I have one more question if you’re not too busy. I’m 5’11, 17yo, 145 lbs, and no abs but I’m not scrawny since I have decent amount of muscle. Do you think I need to lose more weight or will my abs be visible after my skin adjusts to my weight loss? Thanks so much.

Chris - ZTF April 15, 2010 at 3:19 am

Hey Rusty,

Great post, this is always something I wondered about. It seems pretty normal that bigger guys have bigger appetites than smaller people I know and that the body self regulates in this way. I guess that is why our appetites shoot up when we start to build muscle or are sore from a workout simply the body compensating and trying to feed the bigger frame….

Sue G April 15, 2010 at 9:40 am

Thanks Robert – but I need to be clear – I don’t want to lose weight. I weigh about 115. I want to change my body composition so I am @ 20% body fat instead of 25%. I fast 18 hours 6 days a week (from 6 pm to noon next day). Okay if I lost a few lb I wouldn’t complain – but mostly I want to increase LBM and lose fat/flab.

David Grim April 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I’m 6’6″ and currently 212 pounds. I know that I got away with eating more than my friends that are shorter than me back in the day. But now I know that if I eat a lot of food it has to be better quality to stay lean.

Cutting out the junk – fast food, candy, cookies, etc. – also really helps me stay lean. Can’t stress enough how important the nutrition is to looking fit and lean.


susanne April 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm

To Sue G:

You’ve just confused me here.

You write that you don’t want to lose weight, but then at the end you write that you want to lose fat/flab? Sorry sister, but there is No magic formula here. Just eat less!

Russell Campbell April 16, 2010 at 2:01 am

Hey Rusty,
Glad you enjoyed your vacation. Just got back from Thailand and the beaches and food are fantastic.

Interesting post. Actually as a shorter guy 5 81/2 I envey tall guys. Let me explain. I prefer the lean look but also want to be strong. For me to get as strong as a taller guy I automatically look stockier. But I dont want to lose the strength. I think a lot of shorter guys have a bit more “bodybuilder look” not for the look but for the strength and the confidence in terms of defence this brings out in the real world. Unfortunate but the world can be a scary place and short guys do get picked on much more than the bigger guys.

Great to see your site getting more popular by the day. Oh and I heard gary Taubes will be at the UW soon. Might be worth checking out.

Cheers, Russ

Bill April 16, 2010 at 10:05 am

Hi Rusty,

Awesome post. Hope you and your significant other enjoyed a really great one Rusty. Agree us slightly shorter guys (I’m between 5 – 9 and 5-10) so use the strength advantage to get lean dense muscle, while banging the HIIT big time.

Want to say your ‘Visual Impact’ and ‘Ninja Treadmill’ have helped greatly, along with some bw intervals you mentioned from Craig’s Crazy 8.

Wondering what training / nutrition tips you feel are best to get to 5% bf for the summer doing my above mentioned training. Always enjoy your tips, and truly appreciate your honesty in this day and age of meathead bs out there.

Have a Good One !


Sue G April 16, 2010 at 11:13 am

Suzanne – I know it sounds confusing…how else do I say it? I’m okay with 115 lb…but I want less of it to be fat and more of it to be lean. If I eat less, will that happen? I think I will just weigh a bit less but still be flabby! aarrgghhh! No wonder I can’t get help – nobody knows what I mean! So I do resistance and sprinting, and I don’t lose weight, I should increase LBM, but that doesn’t appear to be happening. Maybe I need heavier weights?

Kieran April 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Hi Rusty – interesting! I’m shortish (5′ 7 male) and I used to run a lot and found it trimmed me down. I don’t mean intervals, just regular 45 minute runs 3-4 times a week. Then I read Craig Ballantyne’s info about bodyweight cardio and decided to switch to that. Then I found that I bulked up! I don’t mean bodybuilder type bulking: just more ‘puffed’ than I wanted to be. Any advice for ‘shorter’ guys who want a happy medium? I want a toned look – but I don’t want to ignore resistance training, either.

Charles April 16, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Hey Rusty, I finally get to make my first comment lol. I`m 5′ 10″, 162 lbs, but I really don`t consider myself “short”. I naturally have a longer, leaner body and I actually was a “hardgainer” until recently. I guess I am naturally stronger than taller guys though so it makes sense. I think it`s probably a combo of height and body composition.

Mayhem April 16, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Rusty, is there any exercises or anything to help me get my shoulders broader/wider i know its abit off topic but thats my biggest problem in getting the hollywood look cos i have verry narrow shoulders.Any help is appreciated!

Jonathan April 16, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Hey Rusty I am a short person and any weight training makes me look really stocky and stockiness makes me look even shorter (even when lean). Cardio is really the only thing i tend to do because of this. I miss weight training though. What are your views/advice on weight training for short people who bulk up very easily?

jesse April 16, 2010 at 8:17 pm

I’d love to know how to gain a lot of muscle, but still keep that angular look. I HATE looking puffy. A couple of images come to mind, including two of my favorite animations dragonballz and superman.
All achieve the angular look, dbz looking a too angular lol, and superman could use bigger legs and bigger traps. Of course, their looks are probably impossible to achieve but that’s my goal. So my question is would you know how to gain a lot of muscle mass (say 190 6-8% bf at 5’10) but still achieve that angular look? thank you so much for any tips.

Casey April 17, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Hi Rusty, I just want to tell you how much I really enjoy your website. I have learned so much reading through your posts, and have radically changed the way I eat and exercise in the last month with the new knowledge I have gotten from this website. I’ve lost about 10 lbs so far but more importantly, I FEEL so much better. Even without the weight loss it has been totally worth it just for that. I’m so glad that I found this website (from I believe). Thank you for giving us all of this incredible information!

Ryan April 23, 2010 at 12:47 am

Rusty you said “Adding muscle contributes very little to calories burned (even less than I used to believe). Think along the lines of 6 calories per pound of muscle each day”

I totally believe that. I’ve been heavy most of my life. For years I was caught up in the mantra of the ironheads. “Just add muscle and it will up your metabolism to maintain itself and you’ll burn all that excess fat. Stay away from cardio, just add muscle”. BullSh!t. I never lost weight until I did cardio. There are a whole host of fat burning enzymes that increase when you do cardio that you don’t get from just lifting and as you say muscle is very efficient and doesn’t need many calories.

Why does this myth of muscle being the end all be all to losing weight still exist? Is it just perpetuated by 300 lb powerlifters that hate cardio?

Robert C. Morreale April 26, 2010 at 10:10 am

Hi Sue G,

at 115 lbs a 5% bf reduction (25% bf to 20% bf) is 5.75 lbs of stored energy (fat). i know exactly what you mean, adding muscle is not easy. You can add more muscle but that will not address the flab issue. you need to bite the bullet and shed more weight which is harder when you are that close to your goal. when i say weight i mean fat. we all want to hold onto our muscle (lean mass). as we age our ability to add muscle goes down (hormones). you can create a favorable anabolic environment to maximize your muscle building capability by controlling blood glucose, getting solid sleep, resistance training and certain amino acids. fat and muscle are different tissue and they require different strategies.

Robert C. Morreale April 26, 2010 at 10:52 am

Hi Sue G,

to increase muscle mass you will need progressive overload. lifting dumbbells that fit on a key chain just won’t cut it. i never lift more than 5 reps and when going heavy 2 – 3 reps. if you are lifting more than 3 reps your are not recruiting enough muscle fiber. when you recruit 80% of all your muscle to do a curl you know you’re putting in the right amount of effort.

Allison May 3, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Wow, I didn’t know a lot of that stuff! I always assumed muscle burned a ton more calories. Here’s an interesting article on 6 ways to keep you metabolism going that has helped me!
6 Ways to Burn More Calories: Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Metabolism Going

Joel May 6, 2010 at 11:22 am

Hi guys,

New to the site, loving reading the posts and the feedback!

Wanted to comment on the height post here, as I’ve been a lumbering giant for a good portion of my life. (25 now, have been 6’3 since I was 17 or so.)

I definitely think that the height has something to do with strength in certain lifts, and the way that muscle gains look on a taller person compared to a shorter one. That latter has been a obsticle for me for years now. Being so tall, and having a ridiculously high metabolism, i’ve never been able to gain muscle and, consistently keep it. (The heaviest i’ve ever weighed was 172lbs, and I would say that majority of that was fat and not muscle anyways).

Rusty, or anyone else for that matter, do you have any suggestions for me to stick to so I can continue to gain muscle (I want to get to the 175-185 range) while staying lean? Just don’t want to turn into that ‘skinny fat’ guy!


Jordan May 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Hi Rusty,

I was wondering how models and actresses seem to have boobs, butts, and be skinny at the same time. Is it a height thing with taller women being able to be skinny with assets? It seems like for most women, when they get really fit, they lose the majority of their breast size. As a short female, I am afraid of working out to much because I don’t want to look like a little girl. Would intense cardio take a lot of the breast or does it depend on the person?

BTW, I absolutely love your site and I come here everyday to look at the articles!


bob May 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm

As a certified personal trainer I want to say no cardio at all(except some mild walking),and only 2 strength training sessions a week.Trust me I am 5’5” and I weigh 170lbs.

Raymond May 26, 2010 at 6:12 am

I used to be tall but all the military presses made me short!LOL.. I have to get my head around what you are saying it goes against what I have always been told… but thats the good thing about this site it doesn’t have to go with the rest of the flock. All I can say at the end of the day doesn’t matter your genetics you can make it happen!

AuntieEvil August 12, 2010 at 10:34 am

Jordan – I’m 5’2; I started at 185, in a 38DDD. I’m now 125, in a 34B. How do the actresses do it? Plastic surgery. Nothing you see on a screen is likely to be naturally real – TV or movie. Some is, I’ll give props, but not much. Google for ‘natural bodybuilding’ and look at images, you’ll see the difference.

That said, my husband is 6’2, now almost 185 – up from 165. Doing back/legs together the other day, we discovered that I can actually squat more than he, Roman lift too, and I can do more dips and pull-ups with less weight off-set. He’s tall, lean, and can eat whatever he bloody well likes. I eat a burger and feel bloated for 3 days. Genetics are a real kick in the teeth sometimes! Both Ways!

Once I read something like, “Ladies: never be afraid to work out because you’re scared of what others will think if they see you toned & lean. That’s like being afraid to read in public because you’re scared people will think you’re a nerd. If you’d rather be fat & illiterate, go ahead with it. Me – I don’t care what those people think!”

Azri Miskal September 11, 2010 at 3:29 am

However, don’t many people talk about how muscles help to burn fat? If you are suggesting that, then it means that what many people believe is now supposedly a myth..

Michael October 2, 2010 at 9:30 pm

As a shorter guy what would you recommend i focus on the most to get that hollywood lean look. I dont care about being the strongest guy, i just want to look good in my clothes and shirtless and advoid that “short stocky” look at all costs. I’m new to gym so you help would be appreciated. I’m 5’5 and between 137- 141 lbs.

Adam December 23, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Im 5 9 1/2 and in my opinon thats not what I would call “short”, But just to let you know Im 133 lbs and skinny, Ive seen guys 6 ft and up more buff looking then me, so I think it has to do more with genetics then height

Joe March 18, 2011 at 11:57 am

Well i have just read through just about every comment on here and first i want to say i love how every day i realize how short i really am. Growing up i knew i was short but i always thought like say 5’7 or 5’8 would be average in the last year or so i realized how wrong i was. Anyways i am 5’4″ and i think i am the shortest guy to post on here yet. Enouph of my long rant i acutally seem to have a hard time bulking up maybe i just havnt worked out long enogh and maybe im too concerned with certain parts (my chest is scrawny) any how just thought it was funny seeing people say im 5’11” and im so short. haha you have no clue what short is….all that said i am content with the way i look well excetp sometimes cuz my wife is half in taller than me and it bothers her wich in turn bothers me.

Arthur April 10, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Alright I’m here to help with some conclusions. Firstly I wanted to clear up some mechanics. Short leaver = harder work and weaker lifts, muscle insertion point is what you need to think about. So conclusion 1 is that a shorter limb isn’t what makes shorter people lift more. Now let’s look at insertion points. A shorter person has larger joint area in ratio to a taller bloke which leads me to believe that the insertion point is much further out on a short human, which makes our lifts easier. This isn’t the only end to the conclusion as we also have to look at muscle recruitment and muscle contraction length. From studying the human body I believe that contraction length means no different but what does is the muscle built around the joints. As mentioned above, it is easier for a short guy to put on muscle, so in concluding id say that ether tall or short the more bulk around the joint is what makes lifts easier. Example brock leasner vs short power lifter. Brock is 6″3′ and just as quick and strong as 5″7′ power lifter. The end πŸ™‚

Zac April 20, 2011 at 12:40 am

One thing I’ve noticed regarding height is what ones height consists of, long legs short torso vs a lengthy torso and shorter legs can make a difference in a persons composition and appearance. For example a longer torso with a low body fat % can get that eight pack appearance in their abdominal area while a person with a shorter torso will normally only achieve a six or four pack look. This is also relevant in lifts for example long legs and a short torso, shorter arms, will make lifts such as the deadlift more challenging. In the end it’s important to realize your genetic make up to help identify your strengths and weaknesses but not dwell on anything we find dissapointing.

the boy October 5, 2011 at 7:16 am

Bit late commenting on this but this is a quality article and makes so very good points. One more thing about height is how it relates to body mass – why is it that guys who train seem to be obsessed with being ‘200lbs’…. without considering height…. 200lbs without context means nothing.

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: