Thursday, January 17, 2013

CrossFit During Pregnancy- is it Safe?

Can I CrossFit during Pregnancy?

When there is a new exercise phenomenon around there comes the question sooner rather than later which is- ‘Is this OK to do if I am pregnant?”

As a pre and post natal exercise specialist I will guide you through the ins and outs of CrossFitting during your pregnancy.

Let’s first have a quick look at CrossFit- CrossFit is a functional exercise program with the emphasis on intensity. I have based many of my own sessions over the past 2 years on using a similar format and enjoy putting my clients through challenging W.o.w sessions (They are my workouts of the week!).

Many of the main exercises CrossFitters do during a session are perfectly safe to do during a pregnancy and can have many benefits for a pregnant athlete example squats, lunges, and lifts. The 'functional' exercises use many muscle groups at once and demand good core strength and posture. The variety of the classes are motivating as sessions and exercises change frequently.

Here are my guidelines if you are CrossFitting during your Pregnancy

1: Take the intensity down and train at your 70-80% during pregnancy. This intensity is more than adequate and training at this intensity will not lead to any extra tiredness or fatigue. Intensity video guide-

2: When taking part in WODs think about technique rather than time. Rest more frequently in-between each exercise if you need to and rounds, especially in first and third Tri-Mesters

3: Joints become flexible due to the pregnancy hormones relaxin and progesterone so I wouldn’t advise stepping up or jumping on to high boxes after 15 weeks, you are much more likely to 'go over' on your ankle during your pregnancy.

4: Reduce height of any jumps but continue jumping until you feel uncomfortable you can normally continue with low side or frontal jumps until 30+ weeks.

5: Reduce your weights as and when you feel necessary stick to the 70-80% intensity rule of thumb when training during your pregnancy. Centre of gravity changes significantly from 20+ weeks this will demand changes to lifts and how weights are carried/lifted.

6: 'Kippings' and Chin ups: I have seen women do these in their third Tri-Mester but I would personally definitely not recommend. I didn’t feel comfortable doing these after 15 weeks and there are a couple of reasons why you shouldn’t:-
1, Can increase round ligament pain
2, Can increase your pregnancy diastasis recti!  Avoid diastasis during pregnancy-

7: Avoid all frontal planks, press ups and crunches  after 14 weeks- these exercises will increase pregnancy diastasis recti- that’s abdominal separation if you haven’t heard that term before have a look at the post above.
8: Low Blood Pressure is a common symptom of pregnancy so you may want to watch exercises/circuits that have you standing up then exercising down on the ground. Burpees can send you dizzy and light-headed these may be best avoided.

9: Avoid exercises that place a high demand on both the upper and lower body at the same time. This can drive blood flow away from baby also making you feel dizzy and or faint:.

10: Handstands- Do with caution, this is an exercise suggested sometimes to do in late pregnancy to help turn a baby in to optimal foetal position. I am also owner of and I too tried handstands around 30+ weeks to try to turn my second baby but they were far too painful even in the pool, so beware! 

Above all listen to your body, you are your best training coach
Every women is different and depending on how fit and strong she is at the start of her pregnancy will determine the exercise she can do during her pregnancy.

Some women have been CrossFitting for years before pregnancy and what may look extreme from the outside may feel perfectly OK and easy to her, the Crossfitting female.

You should NEVER feel exhausted after a training session and you should always if you had to be able to continue exercising for a further 10-15 minutes.

Keep hydrated too!
Make sure you trust your trainer and coach. Pregnancy is no time to be 'prooving a point'.
Often women during their first pregnancy may feel pressured into holding a high level of fitness and may push themselves a little too hard. Based on my own experience, pregnancy is a time to slow down and enjoy moderate training!
I am not an affiliate of CrossFit I am a pre and post natal exercise specialist of more than 15 years.

For further information about exercising during a pregnancy and for specific pre and post natal exercise and health programs visit my website  


  1. Thanks for this article. Is it okay to do push-ups where you're kneeling? (Otherwise known as "girl push-ups.)

  2. Hi These type of push ups after 15 weeks still put too much force on your abdominal muscles have a look at your abs when you do them you may see them point out and your belly button protrude out. The best thing to do is to use your couch or a bar/wall and you can still do an effective push up in a standing position without adding force, they are harder too than a kneeling push up!

  3. Ah, I see. Okay, I'll be sure to scratch my usual push-ups and switch them out for standing push-ups. Thanks so much!

  4. Hi Thanks for this article. Im still doing crossfit at 25wks and am feeling great for it. This is my 7th pregnancy and the only pregnancy where Ive continued to workout. Usually my morning sickness has stopped me, but I pushed through it this time. It is by far my best pregnancy. Ive definitely scaled everything back. Any kind of squats feel great. I had been looking around the net about whether hand stand pushups were ok to do as I feel great doing them. Im actually really happy that I still have the strength to do them. it comes up in our wods at least once a week. So it was good to read that its ok to go upside down. Also interesting to read about the pushups as I was still doing them. My trainers are great but I know theyre not equipped to train pregnant mammas as well. But because of me they are definitely more interested in increasing their knowledge base. Im having to do alot of my own research. I think alot of the information out there is outdated. Im just trying to listen to my body as best I can. Ive only just found your website today, and Ive enjoyed everything that Ive read so far. Its great. Thank you for the info :)

  5. My sister-in-law loves crossfit, but since becoming pregnant, she has stopped because she doesn't want to do anything that would be unsafe for the baby. She will be thrilled to learn that she can continue with crossfit as long as she tones it down a little bit. She was never really a fan of burpees, so I'm sure she won't complain about giving those up for a few months!