Positions For Tall & Long-Legged Athletes

A question I get over and over is How do I find my pulling or squatting stance or starting position if I have long legs or long femurs specifically?
Easy! The same way everyone does.
Let’s get this sad fact out of the way so we can move on: If you’re really tall and/or have really long legs, you are at a disadvantage mechanically in the sport of weightlifting, just like a tall athlete is going to struggle with gymnastics, and a short one with swimming.
Your goal is to use the best possible positions to minimize the negative effects. Here’s some help for doing that.
If you’re a tall or long-legged lifter, don’t make the mistake of just assuming you have to use dramatically different, suboptimal positions.
The process is the same for everyone: use the principles to inform the basic position and then make adjustments as needed to suit your individual peculiarities.
There isn’t a simple rule, like you need a wide stance or high hips in the pull. Keep in mind as well that proportions influence positions more than total height.
For the pulling stance of the snatch and clean, which don’t have to be the same, start with your heels around hip width and toes turned out about 20-30 degrees. Adjust from here based on what you need to establish a solid starting position. Generally you’ll feel better with a somewhat wider stance, but be careful about turning the toes out too much, as this can negatively affect balance and power.
For the starting position, place the bar over the balls of the foot or very slightly farther forward if needed. Push the knees out as far as the arms will allow, and make sure they’re over the bar, not behind it. Keep even pressure over the whole foot, and try to position your shoulder joint vertically above the bar—only move it farther forward if you’re unable to achieve balance, or if you’re unable to get the bar past your knees with a proper first pull, meaning keeping the knees spread and not bringing the shoulders back prematurely.
These points will dictate the height of your hips—you will not necessarily need to have your hips higher relative to other athletes.
For the squat, start with your natural stance and sit into a relaxed squat. Adjust the width and degree of toe-out until you find the combination that eliminates rotational stress on the knee and is most comfortable at the hip. In other words, find the angle for the thighs that lets the leg move most freely into hip flexion, and position the feet so they’re approximately aligned with the corresponding thigh to allow the knee to hinge properly.
The width of your stance will then be determined by the angle of your thighs and the relative proportions of your upper and lower legs—a longer upper to lower leg will mean a wider stance and vice versa.
Make adjustments over time as necessary to continue refining the positions until you arrive at what consistently produces the best results for you. That’s all there is to it.

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