CrossFit during pregnancy: Good or bad?
Although the cliché that a pregnant woman should be resting on the couch instead of training should have been overcome by now, the fear is still present.
It is still a cultural problem to believe women during pregnancy are safer when restingbut it is just that, a belief (otherwise false), since there is no evidence to prove it.
Evidently, we do not refer to training if we consider the state of gestation. Let's see in detail how to train during pregnancy in a safe way to get all its benefits, both for the mother and the baby.
Is it possible to do CrossFit during pregnancy?
Yes, it is possible to continue CrossFit during a low-risk pregnancy as a general rule. Not only is it an option, but it is the best way to maintain the health of both mother and child.
Even though most of the time the gynecologist will get scared and tell you that you better leave CrossFit as a precaution, it is outdated advice and against the evidence..
It is important that you learn the modifications you will need to do as your pregnancy progresses to train safely.
Benefits of training for pregnant women
As long as the mother is well, it is very positive that physical activity is maintained for the sake of both the baby and the mother-to-be. In the absence of specific medical contraindications, physical activity should be encouraged.
Lower probability of suffering abdominal diastasis abdominalis
What is diastasis abdominalis?
Refers to the rectus abdominis muscle separation. More than being an aesthetic issue of concern to mothers, it has health repercussions.
The data is very positive for active moms. A study shows that only 12.5% of sporting moms suffered from abdominal diastasis, while the group of inactive mothers suffered from it in 90% of the cases.
Gestational diabetes, dyspnea and preeclampsia
These diseases are the most common among moms. We talked about gestational diabetes in more detail in the post on nutrition during pregnancy, dyspnea is shortness of breath and preeclampsia refers to high blood pressure.
The mom who keeps training during pregnancy significantly reduces the risk of all of these diseases.
Although the main fear is that pregnant women will get injured while training, most of the time these injuries occur outside the gym, such as with falls.
It makes worldly sense that a mom who continues to maintain her trained physical abilities, has better balance, stability, strength, mobility... and this helps to reduce the risk of incidents..
Women who choose to be active during pregnancy tend to be more likely to have shorter, less painful and less complicated deliveries. Mothers arrive at the moment of delivery more physically prepared to face the physical demands of childbirth.
It also involves shorter hospitalization time, lower caesarean section rates…
Women who remain active during the baby's gestation, better control weight gain during pregnancy.
Sport encourages commitment to a healthy lifestyle during this stage and not to abandon oneself to the thought: "I eat what I want, I'll lose it later". The weight gain is not only an aesthetic issue but also a health issue for both mother and baby, who are at increased risk of suffering from different diseases.
The more extra weight the pregnant woman carries, the more likely it is that she will also have indirect problems with pregnancy such as sciatica.
How is weight gain distributed?
This is the approximate weight gain of a pregnant woman:
- Baby: 3.4 kg
- Placenta and amniotic fluid: 1.6 kg
- Uterine and breast tissue enlargement: 2.1 kg
- Increased blood volume and fluid retention: 3.6 kg
- Fat accumulation for lactation: 3.6 kg
The average weight gained during pregnancy is around 14 kg. It is only a reference, it is important that this number does not exert serious psychological pressure on the pregnant woman during routine check-ups with the nurse.
Benefits of infant training
Unfortunately, a mom-to-be who continues to train during pregnancy often receives criticism about how selfish she is being by thinking only of herself and not the baby. Because also at this stage most people take the liberty of giving you advice and lecturing you.
Contrary to this belief, a mom who continues to train during pregnancy is leaving a very positive imprint on her baby:
- babies have the more trained heart
- babies have less body fat
- babies are smarter
How to approach training during this stage to make it safe?
Safe types of training during pregnancy
These recommendations are based on a normal pregnancy classified as low risk.
When we think of exercise we automatically think of strenuous training, but not everything has to be that way. Postural exercises are the basis for a pregnancy without back pain..
Being aware of the best posture and trying to maintain it as much as possible will make the pregnancy much more bearable, avoiding pains, extra fatigue and abdominal diastasis we were talking about at the beginning of the post.
In addition, correct posture is closely linked to pelvic floor care.
Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor
Many girls with a high level of training have dysfunctions of the pelvic floor without being pregnant. It is a serious situation that is aggravated by the extra weight of the baby and childbirth.
It is not normal to have urine leaks, to have an urgent and uncontrollable need to go to the bathroom, even if in the locker room you have checked that you are not the only one. Common does not mean normal. If you think you need extra help, do not hesitate to contact a pelvic floor physio because it is the only way you can refer the problem.
To maintain a healthy pelvic floor try to do not spend too much time sitting. It can be difficult, especially in pregnancies where moms are not feeling very well, but this posture only further weakens the pelvic floor.
As we saw in the postural section, if we have some buttocks that work well, help us to have a more upright posture and avoid the collapse of the pelvic floor.
Before using Kegel exercisesIf you are not sure, consult an expert who will know how to evaluate your case and give you specific indications. It is not an intuitive exercise, it is normal that you need a guide. The professional will help you to treat you in a global way so that there are no decompensations.
They are the most feared, but are still necessary at this stage.
Strength exercises will help you maintain good muscle mass and good posture. Take into account the evolution of your pregnancy to make the appropriate adaptations. In the following section we detail all the modifications.
During the first trimester you will not need to make major adaptations. From the second trimester it is important that:
- to reduce the impact to take care of the pelvic floor and joints,
- to limit the intensity to avoid very high pulsations.
There are more ways to maintain cardio without running, such as static machines or swimming. Not to mention walking, the most basic and the most forgotten cardio; and you can do as much of it as you like..
Adaptations for crossfitters
The most important thing is change the chip and understand that this is not the time to break new personal records or to prove anything to anyone. As a general rule: listen to your body and don't do exercises that feel uncomfortable.
The first weeks you should not make any big changes. Many women take up to months to discover their pregnancy.
Once you are aware of your condition and your belly starts to grow, you can follow the class like everyone else with the relevant adaptations for safe and beneficial training.
Eliminate exercises that could cause falls
Even if we are advanced CrossFit athletes and we have never fallen, it is easier to have a fall when we are pregnant, since our gravity point changes, we are more lax... the best thing is to avoid unnecessary risks, since for every exercise there is another option to achieve the same stimulus.
Climb the rope starting from the ground in a fully prone position and finishing in a standing position. You will do the traction work without needing to get off the ground..
Do the movements of this exercise separately: a pull up + a ring dip.
If the pull up is difficult because of the extra weight you are carrying and the rubber is no longer comfortable because of the belly, you can do a ring row.
Hand stand push ups
Replace it with push-ups on the floor. When the belly has grown more, you will need to rest your hands on a higher surface, such as a to be able to have more travel and to make the flexion.
You can make other bear-like exercises which consists of walk a certain distance on the ground on hands and feet with legs as extended as possible.
Butterflies and kipping
No one has to fall off the rack with these exercises, but these things can happen, so you're better off looking for the strict version or use the ring row.
Remember that the ring row can be as demanding as you want it to be. The closer your body is parallel to the ground, the more intense the exercise will be.
Modify the exercises that add pressure on the belly.
This is the most obvious example. Go to isometrics if you are in the first two parts of the program of your pregnancy. Change it completely for any other exercise if it is uncomfortable with weight or you are already in your third trimester..
Exercises that cause a cone in the abdomen
It is also necessary to find exercises that do not seem to work the abdomen, but have an implication that even if it is indirect has repercussions. As for example in a muscle up ring.
Notice how in the woman's belly accentuates a cone shape in her rectus abdominis when extending elbows. This is what we want to avoid doing on a routine basis if we want to minimize the risk of diastasis and umbilical hernia.
This is an example that I hope will be useful to few women because most of them train very cautiously instead of without considerations.
We had already mentioned that to avoid falls it was better not to do these exercises in rings, so it would not be necessary to comment that with these movements the danger of diastasis increases... but...
Protects the belly
During the first few weeks of pregnancy you won't even notice that belly is there. But as it rounds out, you'll notice it's there. in the middle of the course of some exercises.
Don't drop to the ground on burpees, stay in the plank position and then recover the initial position, taking a jump or a few steps to finish by extending the hips.
If you do not feel comfortable doing the final jump, it is sufficient to extend your hips.
Push-ups on an elevated surface
Choose a surface such as a bench or a crate to put your hands on when doing push-ups, so your belly won't hit the floor.
When you can no longer do barbell exercises that involve exceeding the height of the hips, change the barbell and do its version with dumbbells: snatches, cleans, clusters....
Take care of your pelvic floor
These recommendations are especially important for the second and third trimester.gestational age.
Reduces the range of motion in your squats
O of any movement that involves breaking the parallel, it opts for the power version to avoid overloading the pelvic floor with the weight on the belly.
Avoid impact exercises
- runIf you're not using the rowing machine, replace it with another cardio machine from the box. Be especially careful with rowing if you are one of those who hit your belly with the pull-ups on each row.
- double jumpsYou can actually change it to any other movement such as air squats or a few calories on a cardio machine.
- box jumpsyou can do step ups.
Controls the pulsations
Some time ago the general recommendation was not to exceed 140 beats per minute.
More recent studies do not seem to attach so much importance to an exact figure that is limiting, but rather that you should check for yourself that you are not doing too much work for your circumstances.
Doing the same activity as before you were pregnant, you will notice that your heart rate will go faster. Take more breaks between workouts if you feel you need them..
Don't sacrifice technique and adjust weights at least 75% of your usual weights.
The joints are already suffering from the extra weight of the moment and are becoming increasingly lax in preparation for childbirth.
You don't have to know everything
Don't be too overwhelmed by this list of exercises. Your coaches will know how to help you, you don't have to know all the possible adaptations, but they do and they will be happy to help you.
Don't compare yourself
Don't compare yourself to other pregnant women's stories. We should never do it, but in this state it makes even less sense because each pregnancy has different peculiarities and, therefore, different needs, even if they are from the same woman..
It is normal to have nausea and general malaise during the first trimester. It is logical that you do not want to train, but you should not worry, it is only temporary.
There are pregnant women who trained until the day they gave birth. Others changed their sport in the third trimester. I stopped feeling comfortable in the last month and switched from CrossFit to walking and strength and mobility training at home. You can see some of my training while pregnant in a highlight of my pregnancy. Instagram.
Wear comfortable clothing
Another super-important issue is that you should choose clothes of your size during this period.
It's normal that you don't feel like training if your usual bra doesn't let you breathe, your tights are too tight and your T-shirt doesn't let you move.
Having clothes that allow you to train is an investment for you and your baby.
You may not want to invest too much in a size that you won't have much time for, but the bra is very important, you will probably need a larger size for longer than you think..
If you will breastfeed your future baby, you will have that large bra size throughout the pregnancy and throughout breastfeeding. That's why I recommend you to choose the best one for you and here I explain in more detail the best sports bras for pregnancy and breastfeeding.