CrossFit and Pregnancy

From the Halloween Party!

1RM Overhead Squat

5 Rounds for time of: (12 min cap)
5 Handstand push-ups
10 Sumo-deadlift high-pulls (95/65 or 40% of 1RM)
20 Lunges

Post – 40 Back extensions


CrossFit and Pregnancy
-Christina West

One thing about pregnancy that I didn’t anticipate was the feeling of total loss of control over my body. I’d been into fitness and sports for so long that I thought I had a pretty good handle on what type of food/activity inputs it took to maintain or drop weight, add strength, etc. But once you take that dive, you have to adjust your old equations (and standards), or throw them out altogether.

I didn’t make this adjustment elegantly. If you are the type of person who lives to push herself to the limit in everything we do at the box, or if you’ve been worried about what pregnancy will do to your body, you’re probably going to struggle. Here are a few tips for what you can do early on to ease the transition.

Know the basics. You’ve got to watch your exertion level. At some point, you won’t want to be doing any exercise on your back, going into handstands, jumping, stuff like that. I used a heart rate monitor because I was so accustomed to pushing myself that I just didn’t have a level head once in the throes of a WOD. The monitor kept me honest. I figured out where I needed to take breaks during a workout to keep my heart rate from going too high. Kettle bell swings and pull-ups became issues for me, which was frustrating because muscle fatigue never had a chance to kick in. Max or very heavy lifts (even safer ones like press) will also cause a major spike that you might not think about because you recover so quickly. “Most” people shouldn’t need a heart rate monitor. You can follow some softer guidelines like staying conversational during metcons and keeping weights at a level where you don’t need to grunt to do the lift. It’s generally accepted today that you just avoid working to exhaustion and that you listen to your body for signals to slow down. Well, as a CrossFitter, you’ve probably learned to COMPLETELY IGNORE those signals! I didn’t recognize them until somewhere in the ninth month. So if you need a monitor or some other way to help keep yourself in check, go for it.

Get support from your CFC family. I was lucky to have my wonderful husband Dave at most workouts with me. He probably saved my body a lot of trauma. “Why are you doing that much weight?! We talked about this; you’re not doing Olympic lifts over 40# anymore.” As much as we work against ourselves when we CrossFit, we still thrive on peer pressure. If you’re feeling good, it can be really hard to work at an appropriate level when the other gals around you are loading up their bars. But we are a community here. Read the workout early and determine your weights ahead of time. Then let a couple others in the class know your goal for the exercise and any potential pitfalls you’re trying to avoid. Just like your form may regress late in a workout, you may “forget” that you’re prego mid-WOD and need to be reminded of your goals. For example, I was trying not to go below parallel in squats, but I needed to be reminded of this big time mid-Karen.

Consider your new objectives to be goals, not limitations. Don’t think negatively of all the things you can’t do. Think about what it’s going to take to hit these new targets. It’s like anything else we do here, work on the standards, work on your mental game. I got to the point where if at the end of the WOD I’d done everything to standard and kept my average heart rate at my goal without any big spikes, that felt as good as any finish to any WOD pre-pregnancy.
Let the coaches know. Whenever you’re comfortable, but I’d lean to the early side. Rudy was absolutely amazing during my pregnancy. (Thank you Rudy!) He knew the basics of pre-natal exercise inside out and joined Dave in the enforcer role. He also kept me doing the things I disliked, like running, until it was necessary to stop. He and several other coaches gave great modifications that allowed me to enjoy CrossFitting religiously through 41 weeks of pregnancy.

Talk to your doctor. Admittedly, I walked out of my first pre-natal appointment shrugging off the one statement my doctor gave about working out during pregnancy: “It’s a good idea to continue your exercise program, just don’t let your heart rate get over 140.” Yeah right. She obviously didn’t have a clue about CrossFit. As true as that was, she still had a wide body of research behind her and a lot of experience with pregnant women. I created a mental post-it for something else she told me, “Pregnancy is a natural state for the female body.” That can be difficult to imagine looking at yourself in the mirror at 36 weeks, but it’s certainly true. Don’t fight with your body for eight months (and beyond, another blog post to come). Accept that natural state and embrace the challenges that it presents.

Remember the ultimate goal. Healthy baby, safe pregnancy. At Bryce’s suggestion, I reached out to Annie Sakamoto of CrossFit fame (and veteran of I believe three CrossFit pregnancies) for some pointers. She really put it into perspective that I would have so many more years ahead of me to CrossFit. The state of being pregnant, while natural, is transitory and not permanent. You can put your longer-term CrossFit goals on hold for six months, a year, whatever it takes to get to that healthy baby. Meanwhile, don’t push yourself to the point of causing some damage to your own body that may not be so easily reversible. Hernias, especially in the area “down there” can happen if you’re trying to throw around an inappropriate amount of weight. The extra weight you’re already carrying by virtue of the baby and increased fluid volume alone can create enough pressure to make some unpleasant injuries more likely. It may be hard to internalize when you’re the pregnant one, but you will have many years down the road to CrossFit. You only have this time right now to take care of yourself and the baby. Live in that moment.


  1. skins says

    Went in Saturday morning was running late and paid the price! Had to do a 2k row on a 10 damper! Ouch, it hurt…..then I did the wod!

    20 min amrap of 5 deadlifts at 155, 10 situps, 15 box jumps at 20″. I felt great throughout and finished with 21 rounds + 11 box jumps.

    Post wod my right knee started to feel really sore and kept getting tighter throughout the day. It started to freak me out so I iced it all afternoon. I put a soft brace on it for the Halloween party. Sunday morning the knee was really sore. I can t put weight on the knee by itself and bend it! Not happy about this.

    Going to try to go see my knee doc today as walking up and down stairs is painful and very difficult.

  2. Sarah B. says

    Interesting article Christina!

    OHS: 70# (PR) at good depth! Failed at 75#

    1 ab mat + 15# plate
    45# SDHP

    No time for post-WOD.

  3. beery says

    @Glenn — I’d be totally in. let me know when you figure out how I can use bands to scale the MUHSPUs.

    A warm 6am welcome to Paws, in an attempt to rehab our reputation after mocking Johnny last week. Bryce was there too.

    OHS – 195 (pr) This was really easy, so I tried 215, and my (historically dislocating) shoulder didn’t feel comfortable jerking up the weight behind the head. I need to find a better way to get this overhead, and then can go heavy.

    Metcon: 6:13 – 25#+1 abmat, 95# SDHP. If Mike Harris is with me at the end of round three, I break every time, because he NEVER SLOWS DOWN AT ALL. ARGH! My lunges got a bit slower and I couldn’t hold him off.

  4. AllDay (Anthony) says

    @ Glenn–I saw that last night, pretty ridiculous workout. With my phobia of doing anything upside down I don’t think I’ll be joining you.

    I do like how Barber is sporting a CFC shirt!

  5. Brett L says

    Going back to Brett L
    1RM Overhead Squat – 95# (failed at 105#)

    5 Rounds:
    5 Handstand push-ups (modified)
    10 Sumo-deadlift high-pulls (65#)
    20 Lunges


    No post-workout

  6. Jean says

    Liked the article, Christina. Even though the pregnancy ship has sailed for me, a lot of the things you say apply to anyone who must modify his or her WODs to deal with physical limitations. I will be thinking about your approach a lot.

    Shoulder stabilization exercises instead of OHS.
    Metcon modified: 5 rounds
    5 HSPU (subbed 15# DB presses)
    10 SDHP (subbed AKBS 35#)
    20 lunges
    L wrist still splinted, hence the subs. L arm significantly weaker than the R right now; started having trouble with the grip on the KBS.
    Lunges pretty fast (for me) and unbroken. Still slammed at work, so had to scoot after the metcon.

  7. says

    OHS 1 RM @ 115 (new PR)

    5 HSPU (45 plate + 1 ab mat)
    10 SDHP @ 65
    20 Lunges
    Time- 7:43

    Post – 40 Back extensions

    Still recovering from Sat, I feel funny all around! My dead hangs were not good today either.. still lots of work to do on my Pull ups

  8. Mike H. says

    Great seeing the 6am crew this morning.

    Bulgarian Split Squats – 5 rounds of 8 reps per leg, worked up to 1 pood/hand. Trying to get the strength balance back in my legs.

    Metcon – 5:59 – 1 Ab mat – 75#
    Thanks for the push Beery. I could feel the competition so I had to push hard.

  9. alex says

    Glenn let me know what time you’ll be in tonight and we can give the mainsite wod a go. I did about 3-4 mu-ring hspu’s this morning so i know you can do them. Hardest part for me was coming down once i finished the hspu part of the movement so 5 rounds x 3 reps will be plenty of practice to figure it out ha

  10. 6AM Glen says

    Shoulder mobility is next to nothing so I limited myself to 65lbs on the overhead until I feel more comfortable moving up. Bryce suggested kipping pullups to improve mobility.

    Metcon: 75#, 7:53

    Need to work on HSPU too!

  11. Jonny says

    Princess – marketing my dear friend, marketing. Now we gotta work on Barber keeping the shirt on.

    Christina – fantastic article

  12. Robot Tom says

    Crossfit London today. Could have done this one in my hotel room and saved $25 but I can’t imagine I would have actually done this. “Prison Burpees”. 20 reps/19/18/17/16/15/14/13/12/11/10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1 – burpees – it took me 19:05. The trainer seemed stunned that I finished. Apparently no one else had. Bummer was that they had no water to drink, no sink, nada.

  13. Paul says

    Overhead Squat
    1 rep max
    5 x 45
    5 x 45
    5 x 55
    65, 85, 105(pr), 110(f), 105(pr)

    5 rounds
    5 hspu/10 sdhp/ 20 lunge

  14. terry L. says

    Overhead Squat
    Had a hard time with form with #80, not deep enough

    Metcon: 5 rounds

    HSPU – 2 mats/weight
    SDHP Rx #65

    Time: 7: 04

  15. Half A$$ says

    So cool to watch Gina overhead squat so much weight this afternoon.
    Thanks Mandie for your patience this afternoon with the kids!

  16. Erin O' says

    Starting Strength:
    Back Squat 3×5 @ 160#; Press 3×5 @ 70#; Chin-ups 3×5 Blue Band
    (Started first “backing off” period this week.)

    Metcon @ HSPU off box; 65# SDHP:

  17. Gina says

    It was nice to formally meet THE Half A$$ :) Thanks for cheering me on!

    OHS 115# taking it off high rack
    110# jerking it off of my back

    ….pretty happy with this since my 1RM jerk is 115#

    Metcon with HSPU to 1 Abmat & rubber 10# plate
    SDHP AT 65#

  18. Megan says

    115# with the jerk
    125# without the jerk

    PR is 135 without the jerk

    55# probably should have done a little more
    3 15# plates on the HSPU

  19. Thomas Molloy says

    OHS 1RM
    Ties my PR. 185 and 205 were harder than 215. Needed to warm up more maybe. Will get 225 next time.

    metcon: 5:35

  20. Nate says

    OHS 1RM: 240#, failed at 255#. This is a big PR, my best previously is 215# when we worked on OHS earlier this month. This is also a huge PR for getting weight overhead. My previous jerk PR was 225#, so I am really happy to get 255 overhead. Just need to keep aggressive on jerk.

    Metcon: Not so good. HSPU’s are a big weakness of mine. Got through one round and 4 HSPU’s as prescribed then added an abmat after four fails. FInished just under 9 minutes.

  21. AllDay (Anthony) says

    OHS 1RM: #185 (+#10 PR)

    Did #195, got it but depth was questionable. Went for it again and had trouble stabilizing the jerk, so shoulders got tired and gave out. First attempt felt good though, so I’ll get it next time for sure.

    Metcon, Rx’d @ #95: 4:32

    Nice race with Glenn on this one. Thought I would feel worse after this weekend but made it through ok.

  22. Karen says

    OHS 1RM: 100# from the rack PR
    Tried to jerk 105# and almost dropped it on my head, that sort of psyched me out. Bryce was nice enough to let me use the rack. Less worried about numbers today, just happy that my depth and form are improving.

    Metcon: 5:58 w/ 65# SDHP, 2 ab mats
    my depth on the HSPU was barely there and maybe a bit short on a few, but adding another plate would have been too easy.

    Post: 40 back extensions, and pull-up work

  23. The Judge says

    OHS – PR @ 145#

    Tightened up my grip and that helped out a bunch

    5 rds:
    5 deadhang pull-ups (unbroken x 4, 3-2)
    10 Russian 1.5 KB Swings (unbroken)
    20 lunges (unbroken)

    5:23? tried to keep up with Glenn and AllDay, but they were flying.

  24. Bryce says

    OH Squat 1RM – 255

    Metcon – 5:55

    Went no kipping on the hspu’s, which is a first for me in this style of workout. Did all rounds unbroken except for last round which was 3/2. Definitely didn’t push hard enough through the lunges.

  25. Mayday says

    Well written article Christina.

    OHS: 135(5), 155(2), 170(f)(too shaky on jerk), 170 (PR). Need to stay aggressive on the jerk to not waste energy stabilizing. Had to walk around with the 170, smashed into the rack, but stood up and got it. Had not done OHS since April due to thumb which was not an issue today.

    WOD: 5:54 @ 1 ab mat & 10#, 95#.

  26. Cam says

    OHS 205, Was going for 225 and my shoulder gave out. Really sore right now.

    Metcon: 5:03. I was only this fast because I was chasing Anthony.

  27. Holly says

    Overhead squats, worked up to 105#. still need to work on depth and staying back on my heels

    MetCon = 5 Rounds: 7:04
    5 Handstand push-ups (used the 24″ box)
    10 Sumo-deadlift high-pulls (40#)
    20 Lunges
    probably could’ve gone heavier on SDHP, but that was 40% of my 1RM

    Post – 40 Back extensions

  28. Caveman says

    OHS: 135 (20# PR) I feel like I still had more, but called it as time required. Thanks to Bryce for encouraging body weight overhead; I never even attempted anything past 115 previously.

    Metcon: 6 mins ish (forgot to look at the board, but seemed right around here). HSPU all head to ground, all unbroken save for the very last one. I know, annoying, however I was going to do this with an abmat before Bryce pulled it from me, so again, came away feeling psyched. 75# on the SDHP, broke these up a bit in the last two rounds. Shouldn’t have needed to, knocking off a bit of rust. Focused on breathing during lunges which proved to be a good rest.

    40 back-x: 15-15-10

    A special thanks to Coach Bryce who clearly knows me as an athlete better than I do. Kudos. It doesn’t go unappreciated.

  29. Eileen says

    Great article Christina! As Jean mentioned a lot of what you said apllies to me too with my limitations and modifications of the past 16 months. Living in the moment is so appropriate for not only crossfitting but every day life. Gotta remember that one. Reading your post has helped me to refocus on some recent personal issues and experiences. I appreciate your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>