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Brenton Barker

Is CrossFit Safe During Pregnancy?

Several factors arise during pregnancy, one is the question of Exercise. Can you CrossFit while pregnant? Yes, but changes and certain factors must be considered. Let's find out more.

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One of the most common questions when it comes to pregnant mothers is whether or not it’s OK to continue exercising. And, if so, ‘What kind of movements are OK?’, and ‘Which ones should I avoid?’

In many areas of research, the data and results can be ambiguous, meaning 50% of the studies say one thing, while the other 50% say another. However, that’s not the case with exercising while pregnant. In fact, the research is clear; exercising while pregnant is not only OK, but it’s healthy, too.

That said, some mums may be unable to continue exercising due to complications, and even mums with healthy pregnancies will still need to modify and scale their workouts. Because of its high-intensity and high-impact nature, CrossFit is one of those sports where scaling is a must.

This article takes a look at some of the factors expectant mums need to consider while exercising during pregnancy.

Note from Healthypedia

The team of Healthypedia take the wellness of our readers extremely seriously, and as such, we highly recommend you seek advice from your obstetrician before undertaking any training program while pregnant.

Can you do CrossFit exercises while pregnant?

Several factors need to be considered when designing an exercise training program for pregnant women. It’s well known that exercising while pregnant helps to improve physical fitness, reduce stress and anxiety, and do wonders for your mood.

Typically speaking, most exercises are safe and beneficial during pregnancy. As a matter of fact, not only is exercising safe, but most healthcare professionals highly recommend it. If you’re an experienced CrossFitter or gym-goer, then continuing to work out during pregnancy is perfectly safe.

Your healthcare provider will likely advise you to stay active and modify and scale your movements and ‘workout of the day’ (WOD). For instance, you may have to train at moderate intensity rather than high and shorten the duration of your workouts.

Benefits of exercising while pregnant

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According to the American Pregnancy Association, ‘exercising 30 minutes daily can benefit your health during pregnancy. Exercising for only 20 minutes, 3 to 4 days a week, is also beneficial. The important thing is to be active and get your blood flowing.’

You can still get some great workouts in while pregnant, but it will require some planning and modifications on your behalf. Let’s look at 8 reasons why you should definitely continue exercising during pregnancy.

Eight benefits of exercising while pregnant

1. Helps to reduce lower back pain, constipation, and inflammation.

2. May prevent gestational diabetes.

3. Boosts your energy levels.

4. It improves your mood and keeps you and your baby positive.

5. Builds strength and aerobic fitness.

6. Corrects bad posture.

7. Improves your sleep quality.

8. Strengthens your physical and mental ability to deal with labor.

It’s important to note that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists warns against exercising to lose weight while pregnant. That said, exercising during pregnancy will make it much easier to get back in shape after you’ve given birth.

Six tips to keep you and your baby safe while CrossFitting pregnant

As you can see from above, exercising while pregnant offers countless physical and mental health benefits to you and your baby. But it’s not all going to be smooth sailing. Here are six tips to help make your exercise experience while pregnant a safe and enjoyable one.

1Let your coach know ASAP

You should tell your coach about your pregnancy as soon as possible for two primary reasons.

  • CrossFit, like most sports, is about pushing yourself to your limits. It’s about smashing new PBs and giving 110% effort each time you step into the gym. However, pregnancy is tough work, and you’re likely, you’re going to be more tired than usual. Your coach needs to know this so they don’t push you past your limits.

  • Secondly and certainly more important, if something happens during a workout and paramedics are called, your coach needs to know you’re pregnant so they can relay the information to emergency workers, keeping you and your baby safe.

2Scale your CrossFit movements

One of the biggest advantages of CrossFit is that the exercises, workouts, and intensity are ‘scalable.’ At some point or another during your pregnancy, you will have to scale your movements to meet the ever-changing needs of your body.

Whether it’s a lighter weight or a shorter workout duration, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, adjustments will need to be made. Talk with your coach and find specific exercises that work for you. I recommend avoiding unfamiliar movements as this could lead to an injury like a strain or a fall from loss of balance.

3Modify your CrossFit exercises

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Modification and scaling are two different things, and when it comes to your CrossFit movements, you will need to modify them. Your coach should be experienced enough to help guide you and modify many, if not all, of your CrossFit exercises appropriately.

For instance, it may be as simple as not going so deep on a squat and avoiding burpees and other high-impact actions like skipping and jumping. Check your ‘workout of the day’ before you head to the gym, so you have a game plan ready.

4The 70% rule

If you’re like most CrossFitters, one of the drawcards of CrossFit is that you love giving 110% every time. Now, while we’ve shown that exercising while pregnant is perfectly fine and healthy, you don’t want to work out at 110%.

The 70% rule is designed to keep your work rate at, you guessed it, 70%. While this is hard for many CrossFit mums, it’s helpful to remember that risking your health and your baby’s isn’t worth it just to beat a PB. Plus, working at 70% still provides a sweat-drenched workout.

5Listen to your CrossFit body

Far too many gym-goers fail to listen to their body, which, when pregnant, could have devastating consequences. If you’re dizzy, sit down; if you feel pain, stop. It’s really that simple. Pushing to your limits while pregnant is not the right time for you or your baby. Adjusting your mindset and accepting your limitations will help keep you and your baby safe.

6Seek expert health care

When pregnant, it’s easy to forget that your body is undergoing an incredible amount of change. You might start to feel aches and pains in areas you previously hadn’t. Seeking the advice and treatment of a sports-specific chiropractor with pre-natal care experience can help to relieve many of these unwanted aches.

Let’s sum up

When it comes to a safe workout during pregnancy, the key is listening to your body and working in collaboration with your family GP or local healthcare provider. Additionally, finding a workout partner can be equally important and provide the expectant mother with a sense of safety and peace of mind.

Exercising while pregnant is not only enjoyable and relieves stress, but it’s also recommended for its numerous physical and mental health benefits.

Regardless of whether you’re doing CrossFit, riding a bike, or going for a power walk, exercising while pregnant will keep you and your baby healthy.

Want to learn more?

Below is an informative video published by CrossFit, in which they interview Dr. Lindsey Matthews on the safety precautions regarding CrossFittting while pregnant. Remember, while these videos are informative, we highly recommend you seek the advice of your local healthcare provider if you’re thinking about CrossFitting during pregnancy.


Healthypedia FAQ

High-impact movements such as burpees can place considerable pressure on the pelvic floor. Most health experts agree that it's probably best to avoid movements such as burpees, skipping, and other exercises that could place unwanted stress on the body.

If you're healthy and the doctor deems your pregnancy normal, then most health experts agree it's safe to continue exercising during pregnancy. Exercising during pregnancy does not increase your chance of miscarriage, lower birth weight or premature delivery. Again experts suggest avoiding high-impact exercises that could increase the risk of injury to you and your baby.

Squats are not only an excellent functional movement for gym-goers but for pregnant women, too. Squats help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, increase hip flexibility and enhance blood circulation. However, If you're still unsure whether or not you should perform squats, please seek the advice of your local GP or healthcare provider.

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