Body Requirements for Women Rowers
Women rowers must have atypical strength, power and endurance to excel in the sport of crew, or rowing. Powerful arm strength and impeccable technique is required to propel the boat smoothly at top speed. Female rowers must fall into a range of strict body requirements to keep the boat moving swiftly without dead weight.
Significant height is a suggested body requirement rather than a hard-and-fast qualifying rule for women rowers. Being tall makes you more capable of pulling long strokes that are more efficient than short strokes. According to the BBC Sport Academy, most world-class women rowers are in the vicinity of 6 feet tall, ranging from 1.80 to 1.85 meters. Lightweight rowers, or those in a lighter weight class, can be shorter. The coxswain, the crew member who calls instructions to the rowers, are usually lighter and shorter than the rowers. However, lightweight females and coxes are still usually at least 1.7 meters tall, or about 5 feet 6 inches.
Female rowers who aim to compete internationally in major competitions must adhere to strict weight requirements in the lightweight class. An individual woman can weigh no more than 59 kg, or 130 pounds. The combined average of the crew is limited to 57 kg or 125 pounds. Women coxes must weight at least 50 kg, or 110 pounds. The open class of rowing does not have a weight requirement.
Women rowers should have long arms and legs to be most successful in the sport. Like height, long extremities, called "levers" in the sport, contribute to longer sculling strokes and a smoother competition. Unlike the weight requirement, which is measured with weighing-in sessions, limb length is not assessed in a formal way.
A lean, muscular body with low body fat percentages are preferred requirements for women rowers. The lean body type is more likely to be powerful enough to pull the strokes while not adding dead weight to the boat. Musculature contributes to stamina and endurance. Bodybuilding.com estimates that most healthy, active women have a body fat percentage between 18 and 20. World class female rowers may have a body fat percentage lower than 18 in some cases.
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.