If you’re getting into rowing there is a good chance you may be tall. Rowing has long been known to be a sport for the taller than average person.
First off, not all rowing machines will fit tall rowers.
So we must begin with, “what is the best rowing machine for tall people?”
That is a good question and one that can be answered fairly easy. The only difficulty comes in answering why it is the best rowing machine for a tall person and why other rowers aren’t good if you are tall.
Considered to be one of the best full-body workout machines, a rowing machine (also known as an ERG) is truly a “one-stop shop” that delivers a solid cardiovascular workout and also builds muscle.
There are a ton of different rowers to choose from varying in price, resistance-type, and other preferences. This makes it a tough task trying to pick the right one.
To make things more difficult, it’s not a “one size fits all” machine because most have a height limitation.
Most rowers are suitable for the general population, but what about the people who are taller than the average person? This concern begs the question – what is the best rowing machine for tall people?
NOTE: To clarify, the height that’s considered tall for this article is 6’2” or taller. Reason being, based on my experience reviewing rowing machines, it’s usually around this height that I notice users mentioning issues pertaining to height.
A Tall Rower Scenario
Imagine this – you spent a lot of time researching a new rowing machine you want to own and you finally pull the trigger and buy one from your favorite online retailer.
As soon as your shipment comes you unbox the rower, spend some time assembling it, and you give your new rower a “test drive”. As you start to row you notice you’re unable to straighten your legs all the way and you determine it’s because you’re too tall for the rower!
Now you have to disassemble the machine, fit it all back in the box (if you’re lucky), ship it back, and wait a few months for your refund.
The whole process is a nightmare and unfortunately it happens a lot more often than you think. I’ve reviewed several rowing machines and read literally a dozen complaints from users that had to go through this experience firsthand.
It’s difficult to determine if a rowing machine can accommodate your height because that information isn’t showcased by retailers like resistance-type and other features. Also, it’s easy to get misled when you’re reading reviews of a rowing machine written by users.
Rowing Machine vs. Inseam Length
For example, let’s say you’re 6’9” and are wondering if you’d be able to use rowing machine “X” without any issues due to your height. You read some reviews on Amazon and find out that 2 users who are also the same height said they were able to use the rower just fine. Therefore, you assume the rower would work for you too.
In theory, it sounds like a good idea to assume that, but you shouldn’t focus on height if you’re concerned you might be too tall for a rowing machine. You should focus on inseam length (“leg length”) because unlike your torso, your legs are the parts of your body that have limited space on a rower.
Since most people have different inseams, it isn’t a good idea to assume one 6’7” person has the same leg length as another 6’7” person. Here is a chart with a rough estimate of height vs. inseam length.
Knowing what to focus on is great but it doesn’t make the process any easier for finding the best rowing machine for tall people. In addition to finding a rowing machine you like, you also have to see if it’s designed for a taller person.
Fortunately (for you tall people out there), I enjoy doing research and I’m going to use a similar approach I use when I’m conducting reviews for rowing machines to find the best rowing machine for a tall person.
Important Criteria for Tall Person Rowing Machine
Below is a short list of important criteria a rowing machine must have to be considered suitable for tall people:
I’m stating the obvious here but I’ll go over the details to give you an idea for what I’m looking for:
- It must have ample seat rail length so the user can fully extend their legs
- Rowing motion must not be compromised in any way (i.e. the rower must function and feel the same for a 5’8” and 6’7” person)
- The user must be able to see the fitness monitor without having to bend their neck a special way
- The user must be able to access resistance-controls (if applicable) and other buttons without any issues
- The footrests must be able to fit the presumably larger foot/ shoe of the user
Besides being big enough to use, what’s equally important is it must also be a good rowing machine to own. I’ll be looking at the following:
- Is it a good resistance-type?
- Is the resistance adjustable?
Monitor/ Control Panel
- Is it functional and will keep track of vital workout statistics or is just for “decoration”?
- Is the frame solid or flimsy?
- Is it durable?
- Does it make squeaking noises?
- How comfortable is the seat and handles?
- Does it fold up to save precious floor space?
- Is the unit size adequate to fit in a bedroom/ basement?
- Is it easy or difficult to put together?
- How long is my investment protected?
- Is the price reasonable?
Recommended Best Rowing Machine for a Tall Person
Based on my research, the best rowing machine for tall people is the Concept2 Model D.
It’s made by Concept2, a very reputable manufacturer that’s known for making high-quality rowers.
It’s commercial-grade so it’s made to withstand punishment in health clubs and boathouses but has the portability and flexibility to be used at home.
It’s an air-resistance rower so resistance is based on rowing intensity, making it perfect for people of all fitness-levels.
Concept2 rowers are the preferred rowing machine for Olympic rowers so you know they are great for tall people!
It also comes standard with a state-of-the-art performance monitor that tracks vital workout statistics, gives you the option to race yourself from a previous workout, and even teaches you how to row with proper form.
Why the Concept2 Model D?
The Concept2 Model D was chosen because it overwhelmingly meets the ‘important criteria’ listed above.
According to Concept2, the stock monorail that comes with the Model D is long enough to accommodate inseams of 38.0”. Users as tall as 6’8” were able to row with no issues and with a few inches to spare.
For additional length, the manufacturer separately sells an add-on to the monorail that adds another 5.0” for ~$250. So unless you’re taller than 7.0’ this rowing machine should work fine.
Professional rowers that train during the off-season commonly use this rower. Their average height is ~6’4” and they’re able to use this machine without any issues.
It comes at no surprise that all the features on this rower comfortably suit all users – small and tall.
The performance monitor’s angle can be adjusted to accommodate users of all sizes, the rowing motion is the same regardless of your size, and the footrests are large and can virtually fit all shoes sizes.
The overall design is ideal for all users and that includes the taller people.
NOTE: There are other rowers that can accommodate taller people (notably water-resistance rowers), but the Model D’s price-point is lower and overall popularity is higher.
This is where the Concept2 Model D shines. It’s a solidly built machine and is regarded as one of the best in the market.
It received hundreds of 5-star reviews from multiple sources and will practically last you a lifetime.
Click here to see my full review of the Concept2 Model D.
Finding the right rowing machine is a tough task and it gets even tougher when your options are limited because of your height. There are still a few good options out there, but when the dust settles – the Concept2 Model D is a clear winner!
Do you agree that the Concept2 Model D is the best rowing machine for tall people? Let me know in the comments below!
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