If you loved CrossFit before pregnancy, there is no reason to give it up now! Besides a few rare conditions and complications, most women are able to stay in the gym for the majority of their pregnancy.
Pregnant women can still do CrossFit under the guidance of their healthcare provider, they just need to reduce the intensity slightly. Taking additional precautions and modifying dangerous exercises makes CrossFit a great way for pregnant women to maintain their health.
Listen to your body and follow these guidelines to help support a healthy pregnancy in the gym.
How to Modify CrossFit for Pregnancy
Exercising during pregnancy can be beneficial for both the mother and the baby, but it’s important to prioritize safety and modify your workouts as your body goes through changes.
Your doctor or midwife should be your first point of contact. They can help determine if CrossFit is a suitable form of exercise for you based on your medical history and current health.
If you’re experienced in CrossFit, consider working with a coach who has experience in training pregnant women. They can help modify exercises and provide alternatives to keep your workouts safe and effective. Having support from the right professionals will help keep you and your baby safe.
Most doctors recommend maintaining your level of activity pre-pregnancy. This is not the time to try CrossFit for the first time or to get back in the gym after years of inactivity.
Additionally, pregnancy is not the time to push your limits or set personal records. Scale back the intensity of your workouts. Focus on maintaining fitness and health rather than trying to achieve new milestones.
Pay close attention to how your body feels during exercise. If something doesn’t feel right or if you experience any pain, discomfort, dizziness, or shortness of breath, stop immediately and consult your healthcare provider.
Many women find it difficult to work out during the first trimester while they are dealing with nausea and food aversions. If your body does not have the fuel it needs, you will likely tire quickly and experience lightheadedness.
During this time, and throughout the rest of your pregnancy, make sure you are staying hydrated. Pregnancy requires more hydration than you are probably used to. Make sure you’re drinking enough water before, during, and after your workouts.
Another way to stay comfortable while you work out is by avoiding overheating. Pregnant women are more sensitive to temperature changes and overheating. Make sure your workout environment is well-ventilated and not too hot. Take breaks and stay cool.
Pregnancy puts a unique strain on your body as it manages the extra weight of a growing baby. To prevent unnecessary strain on your body and support your growing baby, focus on proper breathing techniques and maintaining good posture during exercises.
Prioritize a thorough warm-up and cool-down for each workout. This helps prepare your body for exercise and promotes recovery afterward.
You should also make core strength a focus in your CrossFit routine. As your pregnancy advances, your core muscles can become weaker due to the expanding uterus. Gentle core-strengthening exercises can help support your spine and reduce back pain. However, avoid traditional ab exercises that involve lying on your back after the first trimester.
You can also incorporate pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) to help maintain pelvic health, which can be especially important during and after pregnancy.
Some of the typical CrossFit movements may have to be modified. For instance, replace heavy lifting with lower-weight resistance training, modify box jumps to step-ups, and perform wall push-ups instead of traditional push-ups.
Remember, every pregnancy is different. What works for one person might not work for another. Always prioritize your safety and the safety of your baby. If your doctor advises against certain exercises or activities, be sure to follow their recommendations.
Exercises to Avoid while Pregnant
During pregnancy, there are certain CrossFit exercises that are generally not recommended due to the potential risks they pose to both the mother and the baby. Many of these exercises can be modified or replaced to still work your body in a similar way. Consulting with your healthcare provider and a knowledgeable coach can help you navigate safe and effective workouts throughout your pregnancy.
When evaluating your CrossFit routine for pregnancy, these are the things you should avoid:
- High-Impact Movements: Exercises that involve a lot of jumping and landing, such as box jumps, burpees, and jumping lunges, can put strain on the joints and pelvic floor. These movements might become uncomfortable or risky as your pregnancy progresses.
- Heavy Weightlifting: Lifting extremely heavy weights can increase the risk of injury and strain on the abdominal muscles and connective tissues. It’s advisable to avoid maximal lifts and focus on lighter weights with higher repetitions for muscle maintenance. Use weights that were comfortable before pregnancy and don’t worry about hitting PRs right now.
- Exercises on Your Back: You may have heard that you shouldn’t sleep on your back during pregnancy. Lying flat on your back after the first trimester can reduce blood flow to the baby and cause dizziness or other complications. Avoid exercises like sit-ups, crunches, and full-back extensions that require you to lay flat on your back for extended amounts of time.
- Overhead Lifts: Movements that involve lifting weights overhead, such as overhead squats, snatches, and strict presses, can lead to balance issues and potentially put strain on the core muscles and the lower back. If you and your doctor decide these movements are okay for you, make sure you are using light weights.
- Rapid Changes in Direction: Exercises that involve sudden changes in direction and balance, like agility drills or quick lateral movements, can increase the risk of falls and injuries. Many women experience reduced balance while pregnant because their center of gravity is so affected.
- Hanging Movements: Movements that involve hanging from bars, rings, or other equipment can become uncomfortable as your belly grows and might increase the risk of abdominal separation (diastasis recti).
- Intense Abdominal Work: Traditional ab exercises like sit-ups, leg raises, and planks can place extra strain on the abdominal muscles and the connective tissue that holds them together. Working your core is a great idea, but opt for safer core exercises like gentle pelvic tilts or exercises that focus on the deep core muscles.
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): While some level of intensity is usually fine, extremely high-intensity workouts can increase the risk of overheating, dehydration, and putting excessive stress on the body. You can still do mixed modal training like traditional CrossFit, but you may have to take longer and more frequent breaks.
- Exercises Requiring Breath Holding: Holding your breath during exercises, like heavy lifts, can increase intra-abdominal pressure, which can be problematic during pregnancy. You also want to make sure your baby is getting a steady supply of oxygen.
- Exercises That Cause Discomfort: As your body changes during pregnancy, you might find that certain exercises become uncomfortable or painful. If an exercise causes discomfort or pain, it’s best to avoid it.
Remember, safety is paramount during pregnancy. It’s important to listen to your body, make appropriate modifications, and prioritize your health and the health of your baby.