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Prenatal Workout: Row Your Way to a More Comfortable Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the most rewarding times of anyone’s life; however, it puts an unimaginable amount of strain on the body. While most people simply think about the weight gain, morning sickness, and fatigue, there is much more wear and tear that goes on inside the body, including losing muscle tone. For expecting moms who already worked out before their pregnancy, prenatal workouts may not seem all that different until they hit the second trimester. Those who are adopting a workout routine during their pregnancy, after clearance from a doctor, may find their pregnancy becomes more comfortable after beginning a workout program. One of the best workouts any woman can complete while pregnant is rowing. Read on to learn why rowing is perfect for pregnant women and how it can make working out fun again, no matter how far along one is in their pregnancy.

Benefits of Rowing While Pregnant

There are numerous ways rowing can benefit a pregnant body. From being low impact to stabilizing one’s mood, the following benefits are just some of the things one can expect when they add rowing to their pregnancy workout routine.


Bouncing and jiggling may not seem like a big deal when someone isn’t pregnant; however, it can be deadly for pregnant women (as well as uncomfortable and painful). Pregnant women are carrying a fair amount of water weight in addition to the baby. When one completes a strenuous exercise, they’re not only setting themselves up for a painful experience, they’re potentially risking damaging their muscles in an irreversible manner. Because rowing is completed entirely sitting down, this low-impact exercise prevents those who are pregnant from damaging their body or their baby.


Pregnant women often report feeling out of breath, even when completing simple day-to-day activities. One of the best ways to improve breathing is by practicing cardio. Cardio workouts, like rowing, will make the lungs expand while getting the heart pumping, ensuring that pregnant women and their babies get much-needed oxygen. Furthermore, practicing cardio while pregnant ensures that weight gain is kept to a minimum rather than spiraling out of control.

Strength Training

While many pregnant women will choose to focus on cardio to keep their weight down, strength training helps with weight management as well. However, strength training offers benefits beyond weight management, including, reducing the risk of developing or lowering the severity of Gestational diabetes, reducing lower back pain, and improving the baby’s fetal development. Furthermore, strength training, especially when one has focused on the core, can make labor significantly easier. Not only will labor pains decrease, people who strength training will also have an easier time pushing when the big day comes, oftentimes reducing their labor time. Finally, a proper strength training workout can hope anyone’s post-natal workout routine as well, preventing muscle mass from severely decreasing.

Easy-to-Use Machinery

Between cardio and strength training machines, many people can feel overwhelmed with the seemingly endless number of gizmos and gadgets the fitness world provides. While these machines have a purpose, they can be confusing to use, especially when trying to navigate a pregnant belly. However, a rowing machine is incredibly easy to use, allowing pregnant women to work out without the hassle of other machines. As an added bonus, a rowing machine provides a full-body workout, meaning users won’t have to move from machine to machine to work out their entire body.


As stated above, rowing machines provide a low-impact, full-body workout for users. This efficiency means that users can spend less time working out on a rowing machine than they would machine hopping while still burning calories and working out the same muscle groups. As pregnancy progresses, many find that getting a full-body workout within 30 minutes is a godsend. In fact, thirty minutes of rowing at a brisk pace can burn over 400 calories compared to 200 calories for walking in that same amount of time. While users will likely want to change up their workouts, rowing is the perfect staple for those who want to work out efficiently.

Stabilizes Mood

The mood swings of pregnant individuals are legendary, but it’s hard not to feel emotional when one has increased hormones swimming through their veins at all times. However, getting in a workout can actually reduce these pregnancy emotions. Furthermore, depressive episodes, including pre- and post-natal baby blues, can be greatly reduced with a proper exercise routine, with one study finding that physical activity at least once a week can “significantly reduce the symptoms of depression.” This obviously doesn’t mean that one should work out nonstop; however, a thorough workout routine can make anyone feel better both mentally and physically.

How to Use a Rowing Machine While Pregnant

Using any workout machine can feel difficult at first, especially when one has to figure out how to get their exercise in with a heavy belly in the front. Luckily, the rowing machine is easily adjustable to accommodate pregnancy. Simply follow the three tips to begin working out on the rowing machine quickly while getting a workout in that anyone will love:

Change Feet Positions

The first thing people will notice when looking at a rowing machine is the foot straps. Non-pregnant individuals strap their feet high to get the most out of their workout. However, this can be uncomfortable for a pregnant woman. Instead, pregnant women should lower their position before strapping their feet in the rower. This provides them with more reach while giving them a full range of motion and stroke length, meaning they can work out their entire body correctly and safely. Also, remember that pregnancy will give a different center of balance. Because of this, pregnant individuals using the rowing machine must strap their feet in when using the machine to ensure safety, even if they’ve used the machine throughout their pregnancy. A baby can easily move, so there’s no reason to work out without strapping in.

Pull Towards the Middle

Understandably, many women worry about hitting their baby belly, especially if they’re working out with moderate to high intensity. If rowing intently without proper form, there is a very real possibility of hitting the stomach hard. Instead, those looking to use a rowing machine while pregnant should aim to pull the rowing bar towards the middle or upper chest. Both of these positions may feel awkward, but they allow the user to get a proper workout while ensuring the bump stays safe. As one gets further along, they’ll probably find themselves moving more and more towards the chest. This is normal and ensures a safe workout.

Separate Legs Further

With that gorgeous baby belly also comes a limited range of motion for the legs. When working out on a rowing machine, users keep their legs straight in front of themselves while bending the knees. Obviously, pregnant users can’t bend their knees to get a full range of motion being they’ll hit the stomach. However, there is a way around this. By separating the legs further to the sides (remember to strap the feet in), pregnant users can get a full range of motion on the machine while remaining comfortable and giving the belly plenty of space.

Things to Remember While Working Out When Pregnant

These general tips will keep any pregnant person safe throughout their pregnancy:

Talk to a Doctor

Whether looking to complete prenatal or postnatal rowing workouts, it’s necessary to talk to a doctor before beginning any exercise program. While most pregnant women can start or continue their workout program with no problems, some may not be able to exercise safely. A doctor can recommend modifications if someone is at risk as well.

Drink Water

Let’s be honest, everyone should’ve been drinking water well before their pregnancy; however, pregnancy demands even more water. It’s very easy to get overheated when working out while pregnant, and drinking water will lower the body temperature as necessary. Also remember that pregnancy causes water loss (most women notice an increase in sweating) which can be alleviated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day as well as when working out.

Don’t Get Overheated

Getting overheated during pregnancy can cause a loss of the baby, especially in the first trimester. If a pregnant person feels like they’re getting hot while working out, it’s important to stop immediately and cool down.

Adjust Intensity

While most people can work out with the same intensity during their first and second trimesters, those in their third will need to adjust their intensity as needed. Overstraining while working out can cause early labor, so it’s important to take the time to listen to the body and adjust the intensity as needed.

Wear Proper Clothing

Proper support garments while pregnant and working out are necessities. From belly bands to comfortable clothing, pregnant women need to ensure they’re wearing proper clothing to get the most out of their workouts. Finally, remember that extremely tight clothing, or clothing made from non-breathable fabrics, can cause the body to overheat.

Want to hop on your rowing machine and start working out as soon as possible? Fitscope offers PRENATAL online studio classes for cycling, power walking (on the treadmill), strength workouts, ellipticals & rowing machines to allow mothers-to-be to vary their workouts while obtaining maximum benefits. Click here to learn more and receive a free one-week trial.

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