We’ve all heard CrossFitters say that anyone can do CrossFit, but do they truly mean ANYONE? Many pregnant individuals hear these claims and find themselves wondering, “Even me? Can I do CrossFit while pregnant?” In this blog, we’ll dive deep into the answer to this question. We’ll then provide recommendations for how to safely and effectively work out when you’re expecting.
Can Pregnant People Do CrossFit?
Yes! CrossFit can be a safe and effective form of exercise for pregnant individuals as long as certain considerations are taken and modifications are made. This holds true for those looking to start CrossFit, those who have been CrossFitting for years, and everyone in between. However, before beginning or continuing any exercise routine during pregnancy, it’s essential to first consult with your ob-gyn, pelvic floor physical therapist, and/or other healthcare provider. Each pregnancy is unique and requires personalized medical advice to ensure the well-being of you and your baby.
Benefits of CrossFitting While Pregnant
CrossFit is beneficial for many reasons, including improving strength, endurance, flexibility, and power as outlined this blog. However, there are additional benefits specifically related to pregnancy:
- Regular exercise has been found to reduce risk of developing conditions such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or depression.
- Weightlifting and mobility work done in CrossFit may decrease back pain by strengthening supporting muscles, stretching tight tissues, and increasing overall blood flow.
- CrossFit’s combination of weight training, calisthenics, and aerobic conditioning reduces the likelihood of excessive weight gain. It also promotes improved cardiovascular health!
- The strength and flexibility developed through working out can support easier labor, delivery, and post-partum recovery.
- Exercise encourages healthy stress relief and can elevate your mood.
- Becoming a member of a CrossFit gym provides you with a community of supportive athletes and knowledgeable coaches to teach and encourage you every step of the way.
Considerations for CrossFitting While Pregnant
Listen to Your Body
The MOST IMPORTANT recommendation in this blog is to listen to your body. Every pregnancy is different and you know yourself and your baby better than anyone. Therefore, if something feels uncomfortable, painful, or just “off,” modify! Safety is always the priority so feel free to ask your coach for alternative exercises whenever you need.
Higher Risk for Falls
Your body’s center of mass changes as your belly and baby grow, which can alter your balance. This places you at a higher risk for falls. Many, therefore, chose to skip movements that significantly challenge their balance and coordination, like box jumps and rope climbs. Step-ups and ring rows can be great modifications for these exercises.
Diastasis recti refers to the natural separation of the abdominal muscles as they make room for the growing uterus. It is a normal process that most people experience to some degree throughout their pregnancy. However, we do not want to exacerbate this with exercise. It’s often recommended to avoid kipping motions and ab exercises that require significant rounding of your spine. Sample modifications include replacing kipping pull-ups with strict pull-ups or ring rows and sit-ups with planks or uneven farmer’s carries.
Avoid Lying Flat
After 16 weeks of pregnancy, avoid lying flat on your back (referred to as the “supine” position) for prolonged periods of time. This is because your uterus may compress important blood vessels in this position. This can affect your heart rate and blood pressure and may make you feel dizzy and/or nauseous. While this is easily resolved by changing positions, it’s still best to modify supine exercises to prevent any issues. For example, instead of bench press, try push-ups with your hands on a box (discussed more below).
Accommodate Your Belly
As your baby grows, your belly might demand that you change how you perform certain exercises. Swapping your barbell for dumbbells can be an excellent way to do cleans, deadlifts, and snatches. They can be held at your sides to stay out of your belly’s way. Additionally, movements that require you to lie face down (referred to as “prone”) will need to be adjusted. Push-ups, as mentioned above, and burpees, can be performed with your hands on a box instead of on the floor. This will allow you to lower your chest all the way down without putting pressure on your belly. Lastly, high-impact movements, like running and jumping, might be uncomfortable and better replaced with biking or sled pulls. See the photos below from the CrossFit Journal for scaling options for even more exercises.
There are two reproductive hormones that we often consider when it comes to exercising. The first is progesterone, which rises during pregnancy. This may make you more susceptible to dizziness, shortness of breath, lower blood pressure, and increased total blood volume. Scale back the intensity of your workouts as needed to help avoid such symptoms. The second hormone is relaxin, which relaxes your muscles and ligaments to prepare for the baby’s growth and eventual delivery. This means you need to be extra intentional about maintaining proper form while exercising to reduce risk of injuries.
Ensure you are eating enough to fuel you, your baby, and your workouts. Your body is working extra hard so try to provide it with all the nutrients it needs. Furthermore, drink LOTS of water to stay sufficiently hydrated. If diet is something you struggle with, check out CrossFit LPF’s Nutrition Program here!
Avoid Becoming Overheated
One perk of being pregnant at a CrossFit gym is that you get priority over the workout stations located near the fans! Claim a spot that is well-ventilated and wear cooling clothing to ensure you don’t overheat. Staying hydrated will help with this, too!
Key Takeaways for “Can I Do CrossFit While Pregnant?”
The answer to this question is yes for most uncomplicated pregnancies when proper care and modifications are made. The American College of Sports Medicine’s current recommendations for exercising while pregnant are to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Attending several CrossFit classes a week can easily meet these guidelines! Remember to consult your healthcare providers prior to beginning and always listen to your body. Your CrossFit journey will look a little different than that of your non-pregnant peers but be no less beneficial. The coaches at CrossFit LPF in Coconut Creek, Florida, are well-equipped to help you as you prepare to welcome the newest addition to your family. We hope to see you soon!