Toney Freeman details the unique challenges and benefits to being over six feet tall in the Men’s Open division.
Typically Men’s Open bodybuilders all fall around the same height. You’ll find that most pros competing today land around 5’6″ – 5’10”. Many believe that this height range is ideal as it allows for the most amount of mass while also allowing for maximum conditioning. Being too short or too tall can bring problems. When you’re shorter – building thick mass is more challenging. When you’re tall the same is said to also be true but for a different reason. The taller you are the more surface area your muscles need to cover. Toney Freeman was a successful pro bodybuilder who stood at 6’2″. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Toney Freeman discusses the pros and cons of being a tall bodybuilder.
If you look across majority of pro bodybuilders competing today in the Men’s Open, you’ll notice something they all have in common. Not many of them are very tall. You’ll find it hard to see a pro bodybuilder in Men’s Open that stands over six feet tall. This isn’t universally true of course – just the most common. Toney Freeman, for example, stood tall at 6’2″. Compared to many athletes on the stage – this made him look like a titan.
We previously spoke with Paul Dillet about his height (he was 6’3″) and how that effected his physique. We were also curious how Toney Freeman’s height effected his physique and performance on stage. Surprisingly, Freeman didn’t find his height to be too much of a disadvantage.
Toney Freeman posing on stage at the 2007 Iron Man (above).
“I just didn’t want to push the envelope. You know, I got up to 323 (pounds) and for lack of a better word I was like – whoa, I don’t want to go any further.” Toney Freeman stated in our interview. “I got to the point that I was like wow – okay I literally figured out how to do whatever it is that I wanted to do. But I never didn’t want to have the package. You know what I’m saying. I didn’t want to be up there just dwarfing everybody.”
It seemed for Toney Freeman, he didn’t want to become big at the expense of his aesthetic. He also goes on to discuss how his limbs were the long in proportion to his body. This is where the real challenge revealed itself. He knew that no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t get his wrists and forearms to match the size he could build on the rest of his body. He needed to accept that limitation and work with it.
This example is exactly the kind of challenge taller bodybuilders face when preparing for competition. Longer body parts mean more surface area the muscle needs to cover. This makes it more challenging to build up mass that looks similar in the final package to shorter bodybuilders.
Of course, overall genetics play into this as well. You can be a blessed tall bodybuilder with genetics that let you push the limits that other bodybuilders simply couldn’t do. Toney Freeman seemed to know where his limitations lied and tried to work his best to perfect his overall package.
You can watch Toney Freeman’s full comments in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.