When it comes to bodybuilding, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions floating around.
No doubt bodybuilding loves size – but what about height? Can bodybuilding make you taller?
Today we’re going to go through how bodybuilding can affect your body and what that might mean for height, stature, and more. Let’s get into the basics.
Why Is Height Important in Bodybuilding?
If you’re interested in bodybuilding, you’re probably more interested in height than the average person.
One of the core tenets of bodybuilding is getting big and working on proportions and good conditioning. This means that a lot of bodybuilding and its focus on size and proportion has to consider how tall you are and the effect of height.
It’s also impossible to ignore the bravado of bodybuilding – why would you not want to be the biggest?
Height plays an important part in your proportions, in how big you can ultimately get, and then the individual proportions of things like your torso-to-legs and limbs-to-trunk will change your aesthetics.
Height Categories for Bodybuilding
Height is also important because it defines categories in many bodybuilding shows. Instead of judging by weight (typically as high as possible, balanced against conditioning), most bodybuilding competitions focus on separating by height.
While it’s always down to the federation you’re competing in, bodybuilding typically splits into a few categories:
- Over 180cm
- Up to 158cm
- Up to 163cm
- Up to 168cm
- 168cm and over
These classes have a huge variety – even within a federation. These are from the IFBB, but the men’s fitness category has its own set of height classes even within that one federation.
Bodybuilding often involves weight classes – with open-weight being the most popular and open-ended for “mass monsters”. These are less commonly used since the goal is to build more muscle mass constantly, and body weights fluctuate often.
Bodybuilding: How It Changes Your Body – and Habits!
The main thing you need to know about bodybuilding for height is that it’s not just about competition. It’s about the gym’s time, the diet that surrounds good bodybuilding practice, and the focus on getting plenty of sleep and proper supplementation.
These are important because they make up the wider context of your growth.
It’s an important part of how bodybuilding makes you more muscular and leaner, but it’s also the background for other factors like growth. It’s important for health and growth – especially in younger people.
The combined effects of muscle- and strength-building exercise with a greater awareness of diet and sleep are important. Not only are these useful for a bodybuilding competition, but they are widely useful and interact with areas like height, appearance, and posture in their own right.
Keep these in mind as we talk about bodybuilding and height – and remember, it’s not just about the big muscles!
Can Bodybuilding Make You Taller?
Bodybuilding won’t make you taller if you’re already a grown adult, age 21 or older, where your bone’s growth plates are already solidified and won’t continue to grow, no matter what you do.
Bodybuilding in shorter, younger people may be a positive influence, however.
Below the age of 21, taking up regular exercise, diet, and sleep are common factors for growth. For example, sleep deficiency, sedentary living, and poor macronutrient availability can stunt adolescents’ growth.
These aren’t bodybuilding, but proper diet and sleep routine adjustments will ensure that younger people can grow unrestricted.
However, this typically occurs in younger adolescents, so there’s a good chance that you’ve missed the window for influencing growth, typically between 10 and 16 years old.
Stunted Growth: Does Bodybuilding Make You Shorter?
The other thing it’s important to remember is that resistance training doesn’t limit growth. This myth centers around the possibility that growth plates may become injured, increasing the risk of stunted growth.
Growth plates are typically more robust than that – and aren’t simply injured by loading.
The risk of bone injuries in weight training – core to bodybuilding – is very low. Based on injuries-per-hour, weight training is one of the safest ways to exercise.
Resistance Training and Height
There’s no direct route from resistance training to increasing or decreasing height.
There are some potential indirect routes where bodybuilding might make you taller if you start young enough – with regular exercise, sleep, and a good diet offering the nutrient and hormonal environment required for healthy growth.
There are only indirect benefits to their height from bodybuilding for fully mature adults.
How Bodybuilding Improves Stature and Appearance
While there are no direct ways to improve your height as an adult, bodybuilding will be able to change your stature. Indirect benefits will offer a better appearance – including the way people see you and maximizing the height you do have.
Posture: Getting ‘Taller’ With Bodybuilding
Posture is the number one way bodybuilding can make you “taller” – your bones won’t get longer, but improving how you carry yourself is an important benefit.
This is not only a good way to change the structure of your body to be more upright but a major factor in how other people perceive you.
If you wish you were taller for the social benefits, then posture is key for walking taller and receiving many of the same social cues. It’s a way of improving height and how others see you – coding for confidence, assertiveness, and respect.
Strengthening the muscles of the hips, core, back, and lower traps will all support better posture. These muscle groups support proper stance at rest, rolling your shoulders back and producing a proud chest.
These will improve your functional height and bring many of the benefits of being taller (as long as you’re not exaggerating it).
Proportions: Body Composition, Height, and Width
Proportions change as body composition changes. It’s common for chunky guys to start looking taller and more athletic with bodybuilding. Reducing fat mass makes us look taller and more athletic, especially if it’s combined with a change in the torso and upper body look.
The development of a well-proportioned body is one way to improve your appearance, and – while you’re not going to get inches off of it – it does change how people see you.
Getting leaner can help with perceived height, though this may change again if you become enormous.
Bodybuilding itself won’t make you taller, but a focus on proportions will make you appear taller when you’re not carrying as much muscle mass. As you fill out and become more muscular, this may reverse a little since your profile becomes wider.
Bodybuilding and Height: FAQ
Can Gaining Muscle Make You Taller?
No – gaining muscle mass will not make you taller. However, it may make you stand taller if it’s combined with proper mobility exercise and posture.
Muscle mass doesn’t change the length of the bones or the spinal column’s length. It can be used to improve posture and thus stature, but this is a small change that will only improve how other people see you.
You’re stuck at the same height, and bodybuilding will do many positive things for your life, but it won’t make you taller.
Can Bodybuilders Be Tall?
Yes – there are many tall bodybuilders with excellent physiques, competitive records, and even significant placings on the world stage. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the tallest Mr. Olympia winner to date, at around 6’2’.
Taller bodybuilders do exist, but there’s a trade-off to being taller.
First, you’ll look significantly bigger when you have the same BMI as a shorter competitor. However, that mass is significantly more difficult to achieve, and it may take much longer to build the same physique.
Taller bodybuilders often benefit from immense proportions with longer limbs but struggle to pack on the same (relative) size. This is a major challenge for very tall bodybuilders, but there are guys at 6’5+ with pro cards, and international competition wins.
Shorter bodybuilders look bigger sooner and can often produce more-exaggerated proportions – especially in the “X taper” of large shoulders and legs relative to the waist.
Does Bodybuilding Make Your Voice Deeper?
Bodybuilding will not deepen your voice unless you’re taking anabolic steroids. Voice change is not significantly affected by resistance training or other natural means.
If you are using anabolics, they’re changing your voice – not the bodybuilding itself.
Anabolic steroids will potentially deepen the voice and produce a more-raspy timbre. This is especially true when women take anabolics, and many enhanced female bodybuilders develop a noticeable change in voice tone when using testosterone and other androgenic compounds.
For most people, your voice will not change when bodybuilding.
Bodybuilding won’t make you taller if you’re an adult, and it’s the mixture of diet, sleep, and exercise that makes younger people taller (maybe).
Bodybuilding will make you functionally taller if it improves your posture and builds a more upright position.
Not only that, but bodybuilding’s impact on your musculature and body fat levels will make you look longer and leaner. While this happens, changes to posture and musculature will improve your proportions and support a better overall appearance.
Bodybuilding might not make you taller, but it will do many of the same things for you that height does socially, and it can offer you a healthy way to maximize the height you already have.