Crossfit® delivers a supercharged baby and fit mom with a modified program that dials down the intensity and puts strength and safety first.
“Is it safe to exercise while pregnant?” is an age-old question. In earlier times, pregnant women were told to stay in bed and rest, due to their “delicate” condition. Even today, some doctors will tell their pregnant patients not to do anything more strenuous than walking.
As CrossFitters, we see things differently.
We know what we are doing is good for our bodies, how could it be bad for our babies? As many studies have shown, it’s not. It is actually very good for the kid. All of the great things that you are doing for your cardiovascular system by exercising, you are also doing for your baby’s. Having trained many pregnant clients and been forced to develop safe, specific maternity-oriented exercises and rules as a trainer at CrossFit Brand X in Ramona, Calif. (also the HQ of CrossFit Kids), I have seen for myself that babies born to CrossFitting moms have a number of similiar traits that make for a smoother transition to life outside the womb.
CrossFit babies are more capable of handling the stress of labor and delivery. They tend to be born closer to their due dates. And according to the data I have collected so far with my clients and through my CrossFitMoms website, they are calmer, happier babies who sleep through the night sooner. Studies show that babies born to mothers who exercised during pregnancy tend to be healthy and strong, with better mental and motor development than their peers. They also tend to be born leaner, and seem to stay that way throughout their childhood. In five years or so, I’ll check in with all the babies born this year to see if I can confirm that.
In the meantime, the parade of pregnant CrossFitters keeps on coming. And we keep fine-tuning their workouts to keep them and their babies sound and safe as a tidal wave of physiological changes add unique challenges to exercising moms.
Your body’s more vulnerable. Don’t push it.
Everything about the female body seems to change during pregnancy, the most obvious being the woman’s center of gravity as the baby grows, which can cause problems with balance and agility. But other changes aren’t so apparent. A ten-fold increase in the body’s production of the hormone relaxin – designed to relax the joints in the pelvis to give the baby room to pass through the birth canal – causes a softening of the ligaments, which may make them more vulnerable during strenuous movements. Another key change is an increase in blood volume and cardiac output, and corresponding rise in heart rate.
How should you adjust your workouts to deal with these changes?
Well, there’s a general answer and a specific answer. The general first. Each woman’s body and pregnancy and motivation are different, and the same guidelines will not apply to everyone. At the CrossFit Mom website, which lists exercises by trimester and some do’s and don’ts, the information is for a very broad range of people and abilities with workouts scaled accordingly. How you choose to work out during your pregnancy is up to you, but I cannot tell you how important it is to listen to your body.
Now, the specific answer: How hard and long you do your CrossFit workouts depends on if and how hard and long you were doing CrossFit before you became pregnant.
Dial down the intensity with the “talk test”
- Don’t lie on your back after the first trimester.
- Don’t do anything inverted.
- Don’t let your heart rate go above 140 bpm.
Common-sense ground rules: Limit potential falls, slow down, and down-scale
Stay hydrated. Even if it isn’t hot, you need to drink a lot of fluids.
- Do not allow your core temperature to get too high (above 102). It can increase the risk of central nervous system abnormalities in your baby.
- Because the relaxin hormone causes the joints to be softer, beware of ballistic and quick lateral movements, and squatting below parallel.
Cross certain exercises off the list until the baby is born. The no-go list includes the following:
- Rope climbs and handstand push-ups; they are just not necessary. You can substitute beginner rope climbs or rope pull-ups instead. It is not worth the risk of falling Heavy or max effort lifts. Too many things can go wrong.
- Back or hip extensions will be ok for a few months, but stay away from GHD sit ups!
- Box jumps, which pose a much higher risk of loss of balance and falling given your new weight distribution, are among the first exercises that will weed themselves out of your workouts.