If you look at the athletes in our gym, you know that the bodies of no two athletes are alike. You also know that your body shape and size can some days feel like an advantage and other days a disadvantage. You may have heard things like “I can’t improve my rowing because I am too short” or “bench press is easy with those short arms.” It may be even more frustrating when you are deadlifting or squatting next to someone and you feel like your movements look totally different or worse yet … someone tells you that you are doing it wrong. So don’t blame your poor squat on your body, but do understand how to work with what you’ve got.

First take the following measurements:

  • Height in Inches
  • Femur Length (sit in a chair with your lets parallel to the ground, measure from your hip socket to the tip of your knee cap)
  • Torso Length (watch this)

Determine your Categorization

  • Average Femurs should be 26% of height
  • Torso Length (Read More)
    • male height: 5’7″ to 5’11,” torso length 17″ to 19″
    • female height: ” 5’2″ to 5’6,” torso length measurement of 15″ to 17″
    • If your height falls above or below these averages compare your torso measurements to this standard, with extra small and small being a short torso, medium being average, and large being long torso:
      • Extra Small: torsos up to 15 ½”
      • Small: torsos 16″ to 17 ½”
      • Medium/Regular: torsos 18″ to 19 ½”
      • Large/Tall: torsos 20″ and up

Another way to tell if your femur to torso ratio might be challenging is to find a chair, bench or stool that when you sit on it, your thighs are perfectly parallel and bend forward. Read this article for a full description.

Below we are going to talk about those of you who are NOT average:

Long Femurs

If your femurs are longer, you may find it easier to deadlift than to squat. Your biggest problem is leaning forward in the bottom of the squat. In fact some people may tell you that your squat looks more like a good morning than a squat. You might also notice that your quads are pretty large. This is a good illustration to explain how shorter or longer femurs may make squatting more challenging.



A couple of things happen when you squat:

  • To keep your weight over the middle of your foot, you have to lean waaaay over to counteract your long femurs
  • You’re very leaned forward, which puts strain on the lower back and forces the lower back to absorb some of the forces from the squatting movement
  • The pronounced dorsiflexion of the feet (caused by moving the knees forward as much as possible) diverts some work away from the hamstrings and glutes, and concentrates more of it on the middle quad muscle.

Example of someone with long femurs Does this look like you?

Short Torso

If your torso is also short, you may find it difficult to squat sufficient depth without feeling like you are going to fall backwards. As we mentioned above, a short torso can be challenging, especially if coupled with long femurs. It is difficult to compensate by bending over AND going to depth. If you have a short torso and short femurs, you may not feel at as much at a disadvantage.

Short Femurs

“If you’re a guy (or girl) with a long torso and short femurs, we hate you.  Seriously.  You’re built ideally to squat.  Your hips can stay closer to your center of gravity through the whole lift, which means a greater mechanical advantage for moving weight.” (Source: Picking the Squat that is Right For You) Check this guy out …

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog that will talk about some solutions…