Schwarzenegger's Proportions

The chances are that Arnold will never be measured under strict test conditions in order to silence the millions of people that actively pray everyday for this to happen. He's a busy man, and the public's obsession with his height is, let's face it, pretty darn strange. If we can't measure him, and comparing his height to other celebrities in photographs is flawed due to the large range of variables involved (hair length, shoe heels, uneven ground, etc) then perhaps it's time to look at his height from a different perspective.

Body proportions can often tell us a lot about a person's height without the need for comparisons or measurements. Let's face it, if you view two separate photographs, one of a midget and one of a 7 foot tall guy and are asked which is the taller man, it's going to be obvious. Even though the photographs might be the same size, and the people both take up the whole photograph, looking at the body proportions alone can tell a lot.

Legs of a 'tall' man?

In tall people, we tend to associate long legs as being almost purely responsible for their extra height. In reality, taller people's height is also due to spine and neck length, though the contribution each of these make up can vary quite wildly between different people. I'm sure everyone's seen at least one movie where the main character offends a guy sat down (usually in a bar) who looks normal, but then stands up to reveal he is substantially taller than the main character to comedy effect. Clearly in this case, the tall person is tall because of having long legs.

Arnold's legs are without a doubt, proportionally long compared to the rest of his body. Exactly how 'long' his legs are depends on how tall Arnold actually is. Early in his bodybuilding career, Arnold's legs were criticised for being underdeveloped compared to the rest of his body, and he had to work hard to build them up to match the muscles of his chest, arms, etc. Why did Arnold find them harder to build up than his upper body? Well, the answer is that they were too long. Traditionally bodybuilders are slightly shorter than the average man. It is rare to find any bodybuilders at the highest level of the sport over the 6 foot mark. long spines tend to make for long mid-sections which make the chest and back appear smaller. Long legs leave a larger surface area of the muscle to build up and also make many leg exercises difficult to do, due to the extra range needed to perform those exercises (e.g squats, leg presses).

As we can see from the above photograph, Arnold's legs look very long compared to Reg Park's (right) and Dave Draper's (center) legs. Dave Draper is considered by all accounts to be around the 6 foot mark, and also is known for having very long legs. Reg Park, considered to be 6'1" or 6'2" (depending on the source) appears roughly the same height as Arnold in this photograph, yet his legs are shorter by at least 2 inches. Notice that the region between Arnold's navel and the bottom of his chest is a substantially shorter area than with the other two. has been informed that a BBC documentary series made a couple of years ago, 'Liquid Assets', look at Arnold Schwarzenegger in one episode (entitled 'Arnie's Millions') which looked at the vast wealth Arnold has earned over the years. In this episode, the documentary makers also visited Arnold's tailor, who went over Schwarzenegger's suit measurements. The film maker pointed out that Arnold had a very long leg measurement. Although the measurement WAS mentioned on the documentary we can't verify what this measurement was, as this episode and any transcripts are completely unavailable at this time. We speculate that it must have been at least a 34" inside leg measurement, and possibly even 36".

Once again of course, Arnold's potential 'height boosting' shoes throw doubt on his long legs. Long pants are often worn to hide height boosting lifts/elevator shoes as they essentially add height onto that person's legs. At the same time, the fact that Arnold's legs ARE long could be what is needed to dispell any rumors of shoe lifts. If Arnold's legs are, for example, 36" long, then adding two inches to them in the form of shoelifts would make his legs go from looking long to ABNORMAL. Surgical leg extension operations usually draw an absolute limit of 4 inches to what they add to a patient's height, not just for safety, but so that the legs don't end up looking ridiculously out of proportion. It's also important to note that these operations are usually for short people who have proportionally short legs to begin with too.

Hanging shoulders?

Arnold's schwarzenegger's second weakest bodypart behind his legs were his shoulders. In his Encylopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger discusses the shape of his shoulders.

"There is another type of physique which is characterized not by narrowness through the shoulders, but by a "hanging" look. Reg Park was not narrow, but his traps and shoulders sloped downward. My own shoulders have this same sort of hanging look, so they look much narrower when I stand relaxed than when executing a pose like a lat spread, where the real width becomes apparant."

When a person's height is judged, the point of where the shoulders are on the body is used as a subconcious marker (much like the eyes) in helping determining whether that person is tall, average or short in height. We do not simply look at the top of someone's head. This hanging look Arnold mentions makes his shoulders look relatively low on his torso, and narrower than normal. This in itself, may be partly responsible for many of the low estimates of Arnold's height. Consider the images(left) which show a normal Arnold, with his hanging shoulders look and a modified (very freakish looking) version with high, bulky and wider shoulders. Although this 'big' shouldered version looks like Frankenstein's monster, he gives the appearance of being taller despite being the exact same height as the 'normal' Arnold.

Height boosting hair?

One thing which is mentioned quite often when Arnold's height is discussed on message boards is how his hair adds significantly to his height. The idea that Arnold's 'tower like' hair adds upwards of 2 or 3 inches to his height is quite absurd. Firstly, Arnold's hair is not as 'big' as people are led to believe. His flat-top like hair from the 1980s has slowly grown into a more mature combed back style. Looking at movies such as 'Predator' and 'Terminator 2', you can see it was relatively short with a bit of length at the front.

Although Arnold doesn't have the longest forehead in the world, it is by no means small. His hair may not have been shaved for his role as Mr.Freeze in Batman & Robin (he wore a bald-cap), but it showed the true contours of his head which leads to believe that the shape for his head is roughly as seen in the above diagram.

As the diagram demonstrates, Arnold's hair is longest at the front which stands roughly 1.5" above his head at that one particular point. Further back to his head this boost is lost, leaving his hair only giving him an extra half an inch at best. When you consider the highest point of our heads is around the middle and that this is the highest point seen from almost any angle, it becomes apparant that having a hairstyle such as Arnold's gives very little illusion of being taller.


Everyone's body is unique and Arnold's is no exception. Neck length, leg length, torso length... all these things affect the height of a person. A huge part of Arnold's success as a bodybuilder was in his body proportions. This was a guy once considered by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the 'World's most perfectly proportioned man' afterall. His legs were no doubt long. In fact, there are probably lots of people around 6'4", 6'5" who have shorter legs than him still. But while Schwarzenegger had long legs, his upper body was in whole, quite small. The area between his hips and his chest was practically miniscule when compared to the distance 6 foot-ish guys such as Draper and Park had between a similar area. This is in part down to the fact that Arnold's chest spanned a very long distance, but he still does not have the upper body of a tall man. the significance of his leg length is also quite applicable to his height today. Most of the height we lose as we age is in our spines. So, as the bulk of Arnold's extra height was/is in his legs, it stands to reason that Arnold may be less affected than others by height loss as he ages.

Care to comment on this article?