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In competitive rowing, rowers are generally taller since their long arms, legs, and torsos work together in producing more power in addition to producing long strokes. However, when searching for a piece of rowing equipment suitable for tall people, in terms of cost and size of the equipment, it is no easy feat. It is common knowledge that sometimes it gets challenging to find a piece of fitness equipment that might be suitable for very tall people that are around 6’2″ or more. Hence, in this article, we review the best rowing machines for tall people and provide in-depth information about the challenges and guidelines for choosing one that fits your criteria in terms of overall features and budget.
Rowing, as a form of exercise, has a plethora of benefits, and since it utilizes almost 86% of your body’s muscles, it can be considered a full-body workout. It is highly effective for the heart and lungs and can be practiced by people of all fitness levels. It also increases endurance levels and helps strengthen muscles. All of this is made possible through rowing machines that help you reap the benefits of this workout while being indoors.
Table of Contents
- 1 Common Issues Taller People Face on a Rowing Machine
- 2 How to Choose a Rowing Machine for Tall People
- 3 Best High-end Rowing Machine for a Tall Person
- 4 Best Mid-range Rowing Machines for Tall People
- 5 Best Budget Rowing Machine for a Large Person
Top rowing machine for tall people
BodyCraft VR500 Rower
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515
Common Issues Taller People Face on a Rowing Machine
There are several challenges that tall people face on a rowing machine that is not suitable for their height, some of which arise due to the design of the machine’s handles. The position of the retracted handles is often in line with the feet of the rower. Therefore, in machines that cannot accommodate tall people, a tall person cannot gain a full range of motion due to this factor, thus limiting the ability to extend their arms. This might pose a problem in the “Catch” phase of rowing.
Another issue is the length of the slide rail, which if is not long enough and if the backstop does not allow the seat to move farther back, then the rower’s legs will not have enough space to straighten properly. This might, in turn, hamper the “Drive” and “Finish” phases of the exercise which cannot be done properly without the full extension of their legs.
How to Choose a Rowing Machine for Tall People
While looking for a suitable rowing machine, the overall height of the rower is not the correct measurement. Instead, the in-seam length acts as the crucial and accurate measurement. Inseam length refers to the length of pants from the crotch to the bottom of the heel, and it differs from person to person.
The slide rail of the rower must be greater than your inseam length. This inseam measurement gives the rower an idea about the minimum distance needed between the footrest and the front edge of their seat. The process of measuring someone’s inseam length involves standing against the wall with a distance of 5 to 7 inches between their feet, taking a measuring tape, and stretching it from the heel of the foot to right below the crotch. The measurement that they get in the end is their inseam length. A chart listing the estimated inseam ranges for different heights is added below, but it is advised to measure your inseam instead of depending on the chart.
|4’10’’- 5’1’’||25.5’’- 27’’|
|5’0’’- 5’3’’||26.5’’- 28’’|
|5’2’’- 5’5’’||27.5’’- 29’’|
|5’4’’- 5’7’’||28.5’’- 30’’|
|5’6’’- 5’9’’||29.5’’- 31’’|
|5’8’’- 5’11’’||30.5’’- 32’’|
|5’10’’- 6’1’’||31.5’’- 33’’|
|6’0’’- 6’3’’||32.5’’- 34’’|
|6’2’’- 6’5’’||34.5’’- 36’’|
The seat rail of the machine must be long enough for the rower to fully straighten their legs. Hence, it is better to look for a rowing machine equipped with a longer rail or an extension rail that can be externally added to it if need be.
It’s also preferable that the handles of the machine are located beyond the footrests, when fully retracted, to facilitate the extension of arms.
One of the smaller issues that might pose a challenge to some tall rowers is the weight capacity. Tall people generally tend to weigh more than their shorter counterparts, but if they are also overweight and need to lose some weight, then it is preferable to go for a rowing machine that has a capacity of at least 300 lbs. Last but not least, the footrests of the machines must be able to fit the feet of the rowers, which tend to be large for taller people.
Best High-end Rowing Machine for a Tall Person
Concept2 RowErg Rower – PM5
The Concept2 RowErg Rower – PM5, formerly known as Model D, features handles that are located beyond the foot pedals when in the retracted state. The monorail length is 54″, which accommodates up to a 38″ inseam. In addition to this, there is also an optional monorail extension provided by the company if you call them, which allows the users to increase the overall length of the machine. This attribute of the model establishes it as one of the most suitable machines for tall people. However, the design is so smart that it is also one of the best rowers for short people.
When it comes to the quality of the machine, you will be satisfied to know that the build is solid, which ensures long durability of the equipment.
One unique feature of this model is the sliding footpads on the machine’s footrests, which enables the rowers to adjust the placement of their feet according to their requirements without the need for tools. The design helps rowers with non-flexible ankles to get the shins pretty vertical in the Catch phase while decreasing strain on the joints during the workout.
The seat’s height is 14 inches, which is a comfortable fit for all kinds of people. By the end of 2021, the company will release an option to attach taller legs that will take the seat up to 20″ off the ground. This will be great as a rowing machine for seniors and for those who have trouble getting on and off low equipment seats.
Yet another essential feature of this model is the air resistance that it provides, which makes it smooth and quite similar to actual rowing on water. It also enables users to row the machine at their own pace while the resistance adjusts accordingly.
The damper settings, which can be selected from level 1 to 10, also let users adjust their rowing experience. The different levels stand for the varying flow of air to the machine’s flywheel, which, in turn, impacts the feel of the workout in terms of acceleration or deceleration. If you choose any level from 6-10, it will provide you the feel of rowing a heavy, slow boat, whereas selecting the lower levels, i.e., 1-5, will make you feel as if you are rowing a faster and lighter boat. For working out, it is recommended that you stay in the lower damper settings.
The selling point of this machine is its performance monitor that displays the number of strokes per minute, rowing distance, total time taken, and 500m split time. Users are given a choice to select between five varied graphic displays for the bottom section of the monitor, which are: All data (displays more data), Force curve (a graph that indicates whether your motions are smooth or not), pace boat (displays a graphic image of a pre-programmed boat or your previous workout, thus being able to challenge yourself), bar chart (a bar chart that displays the total amount of power produced during each workout) and Large print (displays all the data in a larger font).
The monitor is compatible with Bluetooth as well as ANT+ connectivity, which makes it possible for it to wirelessly connect with fitness apps like Rowpro, regatta, ErgData, etc. It can also be connected to heart rate monitors and is capable of storing data of your sessions, thus helping users keep track of their workout. Although the machine might seem quite big and heavy when in use, it can be separated into two pieces for storage. Rogue Fitness also has an optional wall hanger for it if you want it to be totally out of the way.
BodyCraft VR500 Rower
The BodyCraft VR500 Rower is one of the most advanced options that’s available on the market. It’s a solid rower that delivers everything you’d expect. The gliding rail that it comes with has 38.5″ of travel, which is roughly enough for users up to 6’8″, and allows complete leg extension for even the tallest rower. In addition, the machine comes with wide footrests that have sliding footpads and adjustable heel options.
The height of the seat is 19.0″, which makes it especially comfortable for people with limited mobility to get on and off. The handles of the machine are also located farther ahead of the foot pedals.
To provide resistance, this model combines air and magnetic resistance by using electronically controlled eddy currents with 32 levels of magnetic resistance. It provides more air resistance at lower levels whereas, at higher levels, the magnetic resistance is increased. Level 1 is only air resistance. Wireless handlebar resistance control is another great feature that this machine offers, which allows the users to adjust the machine’s resistance directly from the handlebars, thus, providing the experience of seamless rowing. The smooth belt drive certainly helps as well.
The monitor comes with a backlit LED display and 8 modes which are: Manual mode, interval mode, profile mode, user data mode, Race mode, H.R.C.mode, custom program mode, and watt mode. It also has the ability to store four different user profiles. The machine can be easily folded and stored after use and features a safe child lock. The weight capacity of the machine is lower than the Concept2 model and is at 350 pounds, but it is quite durable.
The machines also come with a fantastic warranty which is for the duration of your lifetime in the case of the frames and 7 years on the parts.
WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine
The WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine is one of a series of rowing machines that are quite popular for a real lifelike rowing experience that they offer to the users. The A1 is specifically the best water rowing machine for a tall person to use at home, as it is light and portable and can be stacked vertically for storage.
This model has a 39″ inseam maximum, making it very suitable for tall people. It provides resistance with the help of water stored in a tank, which can be kept clean with the help of chlorine tablets that are provided. The amount of this resistance is dependent on the rowing intensity of the user. Water-resistance rowers are generally considered smoother than the air resistance type models, and therefore the experience on this machine is quite seamless and smooth.
You also get a siphon pump with this water rower so that you can pump out all the water if you need to. You do NOT need to empty the water tank when you’re storing the machine vertically.
The feel can be modified by adjusting the water levels in the tank. It comes with a performance monitor, which can track time, intensity, distance, strokes per minute, and the rate of the strokes. All of this data is displayed on different windows on the monitor. The build of the entire machine is highly durable and strong. It is handcrafted in beautiful Ash hardwood and the sleek monorail is made of aluminum.
Best Mid-range Rowing Machines for Tall People
Schwinn Crewmaster Rower
The Schwinn Crewmaster Rower comes with a large LCD screen that tracks your workout time, strokes, distance, pulse, calories, and recovery. The pulse setting needs to have a heart rate monitor attached but you’ll have to buy that separately. The monitor also has no preset programs that the users can utilize.
This machine can be easily adjusted according to the user’s height. The seat is quite comfortable and the rail is around five feet long, making it suitable for taller rowers. It is rated for users up to 300 lbs. and 6’6″ tall. However, the seat rail is positioned too low to the ground (12″), making it a little difficult for some users to get on and off. The footrests are wide and can easily accommodate larger feet, however they’re fixed and don’t pivot.
The handle is attached to the housing via a nylon strap, which also helps keep your rowing super quiet, as compared to chain straps on some othe rmodels. Tall users should note that the handle returns to the housing at an angle rather than on a parallel because this point is placed a bit lower than other models.
The resistance that you get with this machine is magnetic, which makes it pretty quiet and ideal for home use. The user has the liberty to manually choose from 10 levels of resistance via a dial, which are pretty smooth to change between because of the 9 lb metal flywheel. The resistance provided is consistent through the levels except that it’s less during the Recovery phase as compared to the Drive phase.
When you’re done with your workout, the seat and rail can be folded up and locked into place and the machine can be wheeled to a corner for storage.
LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine
The LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine is considered a great mid-range alternative to a Concept2 model D. The maximum weight capacity of the machine is 300 pounds. Furthermore, the monorail that is provided is 53″ long, giving tall rowers with an inseam length of up to 38 inches enough legroom. It also provides a great warranty to buyers. The seat is quite soft and comfortable and the footrests swivel to allow your feet to move naturally.
It consists of a 16.5 lb flywheel that uses magnets to generate 5 different resistance levels. However, this machine’s resistance depends on actually changing resistance levels in contrast to the Concept 2 model and you have to come to a stop before you change. While the upper resistance level may feel a bit light, the back of the rail angles upwards slightly from 11″ to 14.5″, so it provides extra tension in the drive phase and you have to control the recovery phase going down. This gives most users a good enough workout.
There are 3 LCD screen panels that track all the basic stats like distance, time, calories, strokes and strokes per minute, but all of them are just estimates based on the stroke count.
For easy storage, the machine can be easily folded and carted away with the help of the wheels provided. The weight capacity of the machine is 300 lb, and it comes with a nice warranty. However, professional or advanced rowers might find this model a little disappointing.
Best Budget Rowing Machine for a Large Person
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 is quite budget-friendly. The slide rail is 48 inches long and has an inseam length of 44 inches, thus being suitable for the taller rowers as well. The resistance generated in this machine is through magnetic technology and comes with 8 different levels, which can be adjusted with the help of a dial. The range of resistance is very good and a majority of people will use the mid levels most often.
The foot pedals are wide enough for large feet but the seat is about 11 inches off the ground, which is pretty low. This is one of the best models available on the market at the price that it offers. It comes with an LCD monitor that displays basic information like the time, count, total count, and calories. The problem arises due to the machine’s weight capacity, which is just 250 pounds, thus making it difficult for the tall people who generally weigh more to be able to use the machine safely.
You can fold the rower up for storage. It also comes with built in transportation wheels, which make it quite easy to store it.
MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine
The MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine allows an inseam length of 45 inches without an extension and hence, is one of the best options for tall people.
The resistance generated in this machine is with the help of magnetic technology and is quiet and smooth while in use. There are 16 levels of resistance on this machine, thereby ensuring that you can increase or decrease rowing intensity quite subtly. If one person in the family prefers to use only the lower levels, then he/she can still get decent resistance variation throughout the workout. Same with someone using only the higher levels of resistance.
The large LCD screen that it comes with tracks the time, stroke count, total count, reps/minute, and calories. There is no distance calculation but that’s to be expected from a budget rower. The screen is right under the handle cord so you have to read your stats by bending sideways.
One thing to note is that the handle returns to the housing just at the point of the footrests, which means that taller people may not get a full arm extension in the Catch.
The seat and handles are made to provide the greatest comfort to the users, with the seat being 11″ off the ground when it’s at the back of the rail. The rail is slightly inclined, which does add a very small amount of “resistance”. A user basically has to push themselves up a slight incline and then control their descent towards the front.
The pedals are large and are equipped with straps to hold the feet in place during the session. The weight capacity of the machine is 243 lb as stated on the manufacturer’s page but it is capable of handling up to 265 lbs, according to users. It is also foldable for storage. Despite being large, this rower is not heavy but it won’t wobble during your workout. It has leveling feet on the bottom so that you can even set it down on uneven ground.
Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Rower
The Fitness Reality 1000 Plus is one of the very few rowing machines that have the ability to connect via Bluetooth, and it comes with an app called My Cloud Fitness that allows users to track and store all their data in one place. Its LCD screen displays some data like distance, time, strokes/minute, total count, and calories burned. However, with the smartphone holder you don’t even need to use the monitor and can just use your phone with the app.
It can also be folded quite easily and takes up less space. It comes with a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds, limiting its usage by tall people who are also over this weight.
Anyone from 4’9″ to 6’6″ can use this machine, as its maximum inseam rating is 39″. With the slight incline of the rail towards the back the seat height range is 9.5″ – 12″. This means the rower has slightly more resistance added while driving back and will have to ensure a controlled return to the front.
There are patent-pending front stabilizers, making it possible for the users to indulge in extra exercises like front raises, shrugs, curls, upright rows, etc. while standing.
The resistance in this machine is brought in by magnetic technology and offers 14 levels to choose from. There is also enough space between the point where the handle enters the housing and the footrests, leaving enough space for the users to completely extend their arms. The footrests pivot, which is nice for those who aren’t very flexible.
When it comes to storing the machine, it is easily foldable and comes with transportation wheels that greatly help.