the blog

welcome to 

Fitness, Uncategorized

September 3, 2017


Every single human is made differently – we have the “same but different” anatomy.

Yes, most of us have the same muscles and bones. No, those muscles and bones are NOT THE SAME from person to person.

You can be tall, short, have long arms, long legs, long femurs (top leg bone), short tibias (lower leg bone), a short torso or long torso, wide hips, narrow hips, deep hip sockets, shallow hip sockets, more forward facing hip sockets, high arches in your feet or flat feet, and the list goes on. Every body is different. Therefore there CANNOT be one way to squat, one way to bench, one way to deadlift, or one way to do ANYTHING.

One size does not fit all.  

You need to train based on your genetic anatomy.  Perform exercises how it works best for your body, within acceptable form of course.



Let’s start off with the simple difference of height.


Let’s face it, if you’re a glamazon, you have long limbs and MORE ROOM FOR ERROR.  Your problems can go far beyond finding jeans that are long enough + still fit your waist. When you’re pulling a barbell off the ground, doing a burpee, push up or performing a squat, you have more room for error because you have to move that weight (or your body) further and likely for more time than your shorter counterpart.

This is not to say that you will suck at moving well or can’t be strong.  On the contrary, it should give you a little more grace for yourself.

Taller lifters have more room for error + more time under tension

Simply put, you’re moving further for a longer period of time…there is just more opportunity for movement errors to take place.

Let’s consider the squat, because I love squatting…

It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that a shorter person doesn’t have to move as far as a tall person to perform a full squat. It will likely take the shorter person a shorter period of time to perform the squat than the taller person if they are not squatting on a particular tempo (like 2 seconds down, pause, 1 seconds up).

The taller lifter has to move the weight further + will likely spend more time under tension (overall time spent with muscles working) IF not squatting on a specified tempo.

There are things a lifter can do to adjust a lift in order to make the movement optimal for their anatomy. 

Taller (long legged) squatters can widen their stance + do more of a low bar squat (if they have the proper shoulder mobility). Taller (long armed) benchers can do the same with their hand width (as long as it is still comfortable). I have taller deadlifters pull from blocks for conventional deadlift OR pull from a sumo stance, which is typically more comfortable for them.

With exercises like a burpee or wall ball or pull up, if you’re tall or have long limbs, you just have further to travel through the movement.  You win some, you lose some.


How wide should your feet be + how low should you be sitting?

My body is the example for this one. Bear with me and my story. For YEARS I squatted with my feet directly under my shoulders, toes pointed straight forward, and dropped my ass to the grass as fast as I could…I made it about three years of lifting consistently before it happened…I busted my back, BAD.

Below you will see a comparison of two videos (with voice-over). The first is an empty bar back squat from a class I took in college (several years ago – pre back injury).

The second video is from a few weeks ago during my leg day.



Let’s talk about the first video and the squatting pattern that led me to my back injury…

I was squatting how I was taught EVERYONE should squat.

I could technically get into these positions:

  • Feet under shoulders
  • Toes straight forward (or close to)
  • Knees out over pink toe


My low back was making up for the lack of mobility in my ankles and hips.  THAT IS A DANGEROUS SQUAT WHEN ADDING A LOADED BAR.  There are SEVERAL things wrong with my first squat, but for the sake of this post, we will focus on my stance and hips.

I had a serious “butt wink” – where you hinge into lumbar flexion at the bottom of your squat in order to get “ass to grass” depth or any depth which is the end range for a particular athlete. All because I wasn’t squatting how I needed to be squatting. The first thing my chiro said to me, post back injury, was, “we need to fix your squat.” I was offended of course because I knew my squat was NOT why I injured my back {enter hair flip + a big fat lesson comin’ my way}.

Side note: this chiro is the chiropractor who works with Chris Duffin (owner of Kabuki Strength Lab, deadlifts 1000+ and has an 860lb raw back squat last I saw)…so I swallowed my pride and listened. He had me squat how I squatted when I thought I got shot in the spine…he proceeded to make changes.

Enter the big fat lesson…



“Widen your stance” he said…”more…more…okay now turn out your toes slightly.”  He just had me going against everything I thought was gold in the squatting world.

I literally re-learned the squat…from my chiropractor…#heswinning


I learned how to engage EVERYTHING from my neck posture to my lats, core, all the way to my big toe.  As well as the importance of doing so for the longevity of my squats and low back health.  I learned how to squat for MY hips and ankles.  YES, I can and do, work on mobility; but that doesn’t change the way my actual bones are aligned.

It is SO MUCH more comfortable for my hips to squat with a slightly wider stance + turn my toes out 10-15 degrees. My feet supinate terribly (roll out). Turning my toes out allows me to focus on keeping my WHOLE foot on the floor, gripping with my big toe + it doesn’t allow me to over supinate because it automatically puts more weight over the middle of my foot rather than the outside.

That was only big fat lesson #1.



First let me say there are different reasons to squat and your depth will be determined by those reasons.  I squat to practice fundamental movement + move heavy weight (remember heavy is relative).

He had me stop right at my tipping point (right before the “butt wink”) where my low back took the load rather than my glutes, hamstrings and quads. I was so unaware of depth because I had quite literally been droppin’ it like it was hot for several years – I had NEVER thought about controlled depth before. I just sat as low as I could at any cost (which ended up being my lumbar spine).

Because of my lack of awareness, he had me squat to a box (set right before my tipping point) for 12 weeks. Yes for three months I squatted three days a week TO A BOX. Like I said, I was relearning my squat pattern; my stance width, my toe angle, bracing through my core, and determining my depth.  My warm up + pre-hab/re-hab was almost as long as my lift.

There’s my story. So what was causing all the issues in that first squatting pattern?


What will determine your squat depth and stance width?

  • How does your femoral head (top of your upper leg bone) sit in your acetabulum (hip socket)?  Without a full body MRI you won’t know this exactly, but you can pay attention to how things feel when you move “properly” and play with your set up.

I had pain in the front of my hip OFTEN after squatting. This can be caused by many things, but mine was because my stance was too narrow for my anatomy.  It literally felt like my bones were rubbing.

A wider stance allowed me to sink into my hips, keep a more vertical chest (keeping the bar over the center of my foot) and create more force naturally.  My “squat angles” improved simply by widening my stance.

  • How’s your ankle mobility?

If you have adequate ankle mobility (can drive your knee 4-4.5 inches over your big toe one at a time with your whole foot on the floor), you shouldn’t need to change anything about your squat.

If you are limited by ankle mobility, you need to work on that + play with turning your toes out just a bit (I don’t suggest more than 15 degrees).

Widening your stance (from right under hips/shoulders) allows you to NOT have to drive your knees over your toes quite as much, stressing your none-mobile ankles, while keeping the bar over the center of your foot.

Now let’s look at my re-learned squat.  A squat that fits my body much better.  Please note I also learned A LOT about the entire body through this process.  Main points for this article:

  • Wider stance
  • Toes slightly out
  • Not sitting as deep, but hitting below 90 degrees
  • AND SO MUCH MORE – that’s for another post.





Wether you’re short or tall, you can have long femurs, long tibias, short or long torso, long arms, big hips, differing weight distribution + muscle distribution; all of which affect how easy or difficult a given exercises will be for you.

The images below are not mine, but THEY ARE AWESOME.  You can find the links below each graphic.


In order for the long leg lifter to keep the barbell over the center of the foot, they have to have a forward chest and shin angle.

The squat is a much more natural movement for the short legged, long torso-ed lifter.  It will be easier for this lifter to keep the bar over the center of their foot + can keep a more upright torso.


In the second image the lifters are complete opposites but for now I want to focus on their arm length….

Moving from squats to bench press.

Pop quiz…why does the shorter limbed lifter love bench and squats?…


I hope you’re starting to grasp all of this.

The long armed lifter loves deadlifts because it doesn’t have to bend down as far to grab the bar as a shorter armed lifter.  The deadlift would be a naturally more comfortable position for the long armed lifter than the shorter armed counterpart.


We know short legged people will like squats, short armed lifters have an advantage on the bench press and overhead press.

In image two and three let’s talk deadlift.

The long armed lifter loves deadlifts because it doesn’t have to bend down as far to grab the bar as a shorter armed lifter.  The deadlift would be a naturally more comfortable position for the long armed lifter than the shorter armed counterpart.

In image three there are a lot of lines explaining lots of things.  All you need to know for the sake of this post is the obvious.

the long armed lifter starts in a more upright position and likely does not have to move the weight as far.  The shorter armed lifter has a much more forward torso angle + lower hips, meaning he has further to stand up than the longer armed lifter.



What do you do with all of this information?

  • Take video of your movements.
  • Pay attention to how movements feel.
  • You’re open to changing your set up in order to have a more comfortable, and like a more powerful, movement pattern.


Maybe you didn’t know you had a long torso or long femurs.  Or maybe you knew your femurs were long but you had no idea how that was affecting your squats.

Maybe you hate upper body work but never knew why.  Perhaps you have super long arms and they feel like they’re working over-time when you bench and overhead press?

What does your stance look like when you squat?  Is there something you need to play with? How is your depth?  Do you have a butt wink?  Do you need to try squatting to a box?

Are you a long legged, short armed lady?

Do you need to deadlift from blocks or pins for a more comfortable set up because of those long legs and short arms?

Whatever you took from this I would LOVE to hear from you.

Comment below with insights from this post or ask a question! I am in your corner.  Leave me a comment!


  1. Fabiana Simões says:

    > My feet supinate terribly (roll out). Turning my toes out allows me to focus on keeping my WHOLE foot on the floor

    I suspect this is me as well! I usually feel some discomfort on the outer side of my feet when I squat for several reps. I’ll give this a try! Awesome post.

    • Annie Miller says:

      Hey Fabiana! I just saw this comment when answering this weeks blog! So sorry. Love your point about turning your feet out. Give it a try and we shall see how you feel! 🙂 Your squats are looking more solid every week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

Hey you,

The name's Annie & you're reading my thoughts. Let's get acquainted. 

the whole story >







creep the categories

Mobility, workouts, methodologies.

Tools so you can do hard things.

Behind the scenes. Keepin' it real.

Photo diaries + travel guides

Tips & tricks for entrepreneurs

Weekly actionable takeaways

looking for something specific? find it here




brands I love

working against gravity

Fre skin care


blue light blockers

klassy network

code: fdba saves you 15% off


save $50

code: ANNIE saves you 20% off

You love my style, trust my reviews, and want more Annie Miller Concepts vibes in your life? Shop my favorite brands. You get awesome products and yours truly gets a little kick-back.


code annie

free flexy gains

3 Day Mobility + Core

free download

free biz gains

Ideal Client Avatar Creator

free download

level up

for free

how about you

view all free resources

tell me more

let's do more

These aren't your "normal" emails.

get the weekly wisdom or daily dose

You will hear from us shortly :)