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So you’ve turned 21. That age is a significant milestone, and not just because you get to legally drink alcohol in most countries. It’s also the age at which men stop growing. Most guys are done at 18, but some manage to grow in their early 20s. If you want to know how to increase height after turning 21, we have some bad news. You’re unlikely to grow any more, except sideways.
Any pill or medical procedure that claims to increase your height is pseudoscience at best and a total scam at worst. Nothing can increase our height after 21 besides certain medieval torture devices. Don’t waste your time on them. However, not all hope is lost.
You can’t get physically taller, but you can still increase the appearance of your height through specific exercises, stretches and posture techniques. Even the clothes you wear can impact how tall you look. Here’s how to increase your height after 21 through simple lifestyle changes.
Exercises and Stretches
Being in good shape will improve your appearance no matter how tall you are, so that should be reason enough for you to start working out. Anyway, if your main goal is to appear taller, these exercises and stretches will help you.
1. Hanging Movements
Any hanging exercise (pull-ups, hanging leg raises, etc.) allows you to completely extend your spine on a vertical plane, giving you an amazing upper body stretch. It loosens up your entire back from your shoulders to your buttocks, opening up your body and helping you appear taller.
2. Isometric Rows
Isometric rows (pulling with one arm at a time) helps you balance your back muscles and develop a straighter posture. Most people overcompensate to one side or the other, making them appear hunched or lopsided. You can solve that problem by doing one-armed isometric rows and building a complete back.
3. High and Side Planks
Planks are great stabilizing exercises that develop your core strength, balance and posture. The high plank primarily targets the shoulders, lower back, glutes and hamstrings. The side plank helps maintain a neutral spine and leg alignment, which in turn prevents you from leaning and appearing shorter.
4. Stiff-Leg Deadlift
As the name suggests, the stiff-leg deadlift requires you to keep your legs as straight as possible while performing a deadlift. This exercise targets your lower back and hamstrings, which are the most important muscles for good posterior chain health. Other exercises target those muscles too, but the stiff-leg deadlift has the best range of motion.
5. Thoracic Twisting Movements
Any movement that involves a thoracic twist (twisting your upper body) is great for core and spinal engagement. It makes your upper body more flexible and durable, allowing you to stretch farther and appear taller. Any knots or tight spots in your mid-back will disappear after some thoracic twisting stretches.
6. Back Hyperextensions
Back hyperextensions can significantly improve your flexibility through the lower back region and relieve the desk posture syndrome that many people have these days. Instead of hunching over, you hunch backward, stretching your spine and contracting your lower back. This exercise takes more time to master than most other movements, but the results are worth the effort.
Yoga, pilates or any other stretching and meditation activity improves your full-body flexibility, relieves minor pains and aids in injury recovery – all of which can help you look taller. Flexibility is the key to adjusting your posture, but you can’t adjust your posture until you take care of your minor injuries. If you don’t want to weight train but still want to increase your height, give one of these activities a try.
Best Posture Practices
Aside from physical activity, you can increase the appearance of your height every minute of every day by maintaining good posture. Follow these best posture practices for standing, sitting and sleeping to look as tall as possible.
Since you to look taller, focus on improving your standing posture first. Make sure you check off these boxes every time you stand up:
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Shift most of your weight to the balls of your feet.
- Don’t lock your knees.
- Slightly squeeze your glutes.
- Maintain a small hollow in your back.
- Expand your chest.
- Contract your scapula (move your shoulder blades down and back).
- Level out your chin.
- Relax your jaw and neck muscles.
We know it’s a lot to account for, but all of these elements play crucial roles in your standing posture. If you miss a step, another body part has to compensate, creating a domino effect of bad posturing that makes you look smaller. Do all of these things to maximize your height.
You also need to pay attention to your posture while sitting, whether you’re on the couch at home or at your work desk. Remember these cues:
- Rest your feet flat on the floor.
- Bend your knees and hips 90 degrees.
- Maintain a small arch in your lower back.
- Lift up your chest.
- Level out your chin.
- Keep your spine straight. Don’t slouch or lean forward.
You should also reposition your chair and computer so your head and neck can stay comfortable during work. Your upper body should effectively look the same while standing and sitting.
We all contort ourselves into strange sleeping positions, whether we prefer to lie on our backs, stomachs or sides. All three sleeping positions have a “correct” posture that requires some extra pillows.
- Back: use a narrow pillow for your head and put a larger pillow under your knees. Your lower back should feel much more comfortable with your legs slightly elevated.
- Stomach: use a narrow pillow (or no pillow at all) for your head and place another pillow under your midsection to round your lower back. If you like to bend one of your legs, put a pillow under the bent leg as well.
- Side: use a blocky pillow for your head and place another pillow under your hip. Put a third pillow between your legs to maintain a neutral spine and leg alignment.
Don’t crane your neck with multiple head pillows. Use only one pillow for your head and focus on the rest of your body to create an optimal sleeping posture.
Dress to Look Taller
Along with an active lifestyle and healthy posture habits, you can also wear the right clothes to make yourself look taller. Here are some easy wardrobe tricks to increase your height after 21.
1. Fitting Clothes
Throw out your oversized clothes and wear more close-fitting outfits that highlight your strong points and hide your main weak point. You will look tall and streamlined instead of wide and bulky. If you hover between a medium and large shirt size, go with the medium.
2. Monochromatic Outfits
Blacks, blues and greys are the best color options for shorter guys, and they should make up the majority of your wardrobe. Monochromatic outfits give your body continuity, creating the illusion of added height. It’s okay to use multiple colors, but they should be similar enough to create one solid look.
3. Vertical Patterns
If you like to wear unique patterns, choose vertical over horizontal. Vertical patterns elongate your body and make you appear taller, while horizontal patterns widen your body and flatten you out. A shirt with thin vertical stripes is a fine alternative to a monochromatic outfit.
Your sleeves play a bigger role in your appearance than you think. If you have short arms, wear more long sleeves. If you have longer arms, wear more short sleeves. It’s all about highlighting your strengths and hiding your weaknesses.
Shorter guys need to draw people’s eyes to their upper bodies and take their legs out of the picture. You can accomplish that goal by wearing more upper-body accessories, like necklaces, hats, glasses, pins and pocket squares. These items also make you appear more eccentric and confident, taking attention away from your below-average stature.
Properly layering your clothes can make you look taller and more sophisticated. Instead of showing off one layer at a time, unzip your coats and jackets to reveal the other layers and create a natural vertical pattern. Utilizing layers can also reduce the effects of bulky coats you might have to wear during the winter.
7. Shoe Lifts
You can always wear shoe lifts for a one or two-inch boost if you get desperate. However, your height disparity will be even more noticeable when you take them off, so it’s a give-and-take solution. You should also be prepared to face some ridicule from your friends if they catch you wearing them.
Want to Look Taller? Try Harder
You can’t increase your height after 21, but you can appear taller by exercising, having good posture and wearing the right clothes. Stop looking for get-tall-quick schemes. If you want to increase your height, try harder in your daily life and stop letting your insecurity get in the way of your happiness.