Do you know your ape index? If you don’t, you’re not alone. No, it’s not how much body hair you have. It’s a measurement comparison started in the climbing community to relate how tall you are with the spread of your arms. The ape index helps you know how to best utilize your strength, range of motion, and abilities.

How to Find Your Ape Index

Find a blank, unobstructed wall and remove your shoes. Place your left hand on the wall with your fingertips just touching the ground, and stretch your right hand up as far as it can go in a vertical, straight line. You should be standing awkwardly with both arms and the top of your shoulders and chest in full contact with the wall. Leaving your right fingertips in place without moving, stand up beside your fingertips and note the height compared to the top of your head. Are you fingertips above your head? Below it? Measure or guess the number of inches difference between your fingertips (wingspan) and your height.

If your wingspan is longer than your height you will have a positive index – 2 inches taller is a +2 ape index. If your wingspan is shorter than your height you will have a negative index – 3 inches shorter would be a -3 ape index. Average is zero, though men usually have a slightly longer wingspan over height than women.

What does it mean?

First of all, the ape index is often an indicator for your sports ability. Those with longer arms tend to have an advantage in certain sports, such as rock climbing, basketball, swimming, tennis, golf, pitching a baseball, or any other throwing or swinging motion. Having a negative ape index doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a bad swimmer, just that you will have to use short and choppy strokes to generate more power.

If you have a negative ape index, you may be better suited to sports like running, soccer, cycling, and others where long arms are not necessarily an advantage. You may also find that shirtsleeves run long for you. Just like those with a positive ape index may find their shirts constantly too short.

Making it Work

Height and wingspan can be used to your advantage once you’re aware of how you can make it work. Emphasizing your extra-long arms can make you more competitive in some sports, or you can focus on your legs and other abilities if you have a shorter wingspan than your height.

Either way, if you find yourself struggling to find clothing to fit your tall frame or your extra long arms, we understand. There are tees, shirts, and other clothing options that can dress you in a stylish way and a comfortable fit. Whether your ape index is positive or negative, you can live your best life AND look good doing it.