TYSON FURY made it a weekend to remember, becoming heavyweight champion of the world with a unanimous points victory over Wladimir Klitschko.
If he repeats his dominant performance in their potential rematch, Tyson could be open to some massive fights in Britain with Anthony Joshua and David Haye knocking on the door.
So, with heavyweights being such a different breed – how should the big guys train?
Here, Danny Wilson explains why a taller athlete may have issues in the weight room and strategies on how to train them. These methods are considered through research and past training experiences.
When do the tall issues start?
Normally at the very start of their career. Due to early development and maturation, tall athletes are commonly introduced to sport at an early age. Due to their early development, they are often the better athlete of their age group and often overworked in a lot of sport specific activity rather than building generic skills and movement patterns.
Being tall can generally lead to jumping higher and sprinting faster, this is often due to their tendon lengths making them more forceful and reactive.
By performing these activities over and over again, their joints become really stiff and robust due to the amount of force they have to reduce through each movement. This can be great on the field, but very detrimental to your performance in the weight room.
Flexibility and mobility issues
The stiff joints will effect flexibility and mobility, therefore leaving an athlete more prone to injury and the inability to overload the body in the weight room for strength and muscular development.
Taller athletes often have longer limbs, especially the thigh bones. A longer thigh bone can create mobility issues of the hip and relative hamstring length, this can cause issues with core stability and glute function… these are important in delivering a harder punch.
A taller athlete really needs to focus on hip and ankle mobility to reduce tightness, aches and the likelihood of injury. However, there are some training methods that need to be considered so physical performance can still be developed.
Its quite often that a heavyweight boxers strength to bodyweight ratio will not be as significant as a boxer at a lighter weight.
Furthermore, a taller person will create higher compressive and reactive forces whilst training or competing at their sport.
With this in mind, it is fundamental that the taller athlete will need to be able to handle their own bodyweight. Bodyweight exercises can challenge the athletes’ co-ordination mobility, balance and stability.
Challenge body control and stability through bodyweight exercises such as press ups, dips, chins and hanging row, along with single leg box squats to improve hip stability and knee strength.
MASTER THE SQUAT
Squat depth is affected due to the hip mobility and core stability issues that we have just discussed. Furthermore, overactive hip flexors and hamstrings can fatigue the stabilizers due to an excessive forward lean, increasing the chances of lower back pain and injury.
Furthermore, the taller lifter experiences 25% more hip extension forces from parallel squats than shorter athletes, making it more physically demanding.
The squat pattern is still important to develop. Goblet squats are ideal for taller lifters as an assistance exercise as the front load of the dumbbell will help the athlete counter balance to achieve a deeper squat.
MASTER THE DEADLIFT
So the goblet squat has been selected as an appropriate exercise, however this will affect the amount of external load the athlete could lift. Therefore, I would typically look to load athletes lower body through the deadlift movement pattern.
This is due to a taller athlete typically having a longer arm length, leading to a larger hip moment during a straight bar deadlift.
However, a straight bar deadlift may limit a taller athlete the same way a squat would, with an overhanging torso effecting lower back stress.
The trap-bar deadlift could be beneficial to our tall friends as it will lead to less compression on the lower back muscles for athletes that have mobility issues. Furthermore, a higher hip position is encouraged during a trap-bar deadlift, allowing the taller athlete to retract his shoulder blades effectively.
The Romanian Deadlift is also a great alternative to the traditional deadlift, increasing the demand on hamstring mobility and strength without putting our heavyweight athlete at risk.