My Pregnancy Movement Modifications for CrossFit

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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Good morning, friends! How’s life? I hope things are going well for you!

So, let’s start with some photos from yesterday! My friend Erin came over to spend the day with Quinn and me. It was so nice to see her and catch up. She’s the best. And, of course, my guys (the furry one and the one-so-furry one) loved seeing Erin too!

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Some eats from the day”¦

Breakfast followed by Marylou’s white chocolate chip iced coffee, which Erin kindly brought me on her way to our house.

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Spinach salad with crumbled feta and toast with olive oil and white bean hummus.

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And lots more toast with white bean hummus””I ate 3 or 4 pieces throughout the afternoon. It was so darn good!

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An Espresso Blondie! (Recipe on CNC soon!)

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After a few hours of hanging out inside, we took Quinn and Murphy for a walk around the neighborhood.

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Post-walk treats: Chai tea + apple crisp.

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Here we are before we said goodbye and I headed to CrossFit!

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Speaking of CrossFit”¦

I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages now, and I finally had a chance to sit down and write it. Well, actually, it probably took me a half dozen times of sitting down and writing a little bit at a time before I finally finished it. #lifewithababy

Ok, so I get questions from readers and (real life) friends all the time about when I stopped or modified certain movements at CrossFit during my pregnancy. Obviously, I am not a doctor, so PLEASE check with yours before you start, stop, or modify any sort of exercise if you are pregnant. The list below is based off my own personal experience, so it’s not right or wrong or what you’re suppose to do or not suppose to do. It’s just what worked for me during my pregnancy, and I thought some of you who are pregnant, or thinking about it soon, and do CrossFit, might find it helpful.

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Next to each exercise below is the week of my pregnancy that I stopped or modified it and what I did instead (in parentheses). If I missed any exercises/movements, just let me know! (FYI: I CrossFitted up until 38 weeks, which is why a lot of the exercises below say 38 weeks next to them. My doctor told me I could do whatever I wanted at CrossFit as long as it didn’t feel uncomfortable, so I just kept trucking along!)

  • Box Jumps – 33 weeks (step-ups to a 20” box)
  • Burpees – 22 weeks (squat thrusts)
  • Cleans – 38 weeks (hang position)
  • Deadlifts – 38 weeks
  • Double Unders – 38 weeks
  • Farmers’ carries – 38 weeks
  • Handstand push-ups – 8 weeks (strict presses)
  • Hollow rocks – 13 weeks (planks)
  • Kettlebell swings – 38 weeks
  • Prowler pushes – 38 weeks
  • Pull-ups – 38 weeks
  • Rope climbs – 13 weeks (pull-ups)
  • Rowing – 38 weeks
  • Running – 35 weeks (rowing)
  • Sit-ups – 25 weeks (kipping or strict knee raises)
  • Snatches – 30-32 weeks (I can’t remember exactly, but I substituted overhead squats or dumbbell snatches)
  • Toes-to-Bar – 17 weeks (kipping or strict knee raises)
  • Thrusters – 38 weeks
  • Wallballs – 38 weeks

Questions of the Day

How was your Tuesday? What was the highlight of your day? 

What’s the best part about a rainy day?

Moms, did you exercise during your pregnancy? 

P.S. Check out my newest post on Health.com: 3 Reasons I’m Choosing to Run Slower!

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68 Comments

  1. My Tuesday was good! I had a lot of great food but in the afternoon I started to get tired. I started off my day jogging and listening to a podcast on menioause and it was foggy and quiet outside. I love it like that.

  2. I have never tried Crossfit before, but love strength training. I lift 3-4x a week and am always looking for ways to mix it up. I’ve been following your blog for over a few years now and really enjoy these posts on Crossfit. It makes me want to find a box around me to at least try it out.

  3. I exercised through 40 weeks of three pregnancies, but way more gently than usual. It felt natural to me to enjoy yoga, walks and to really be in tune with my body. I loved seeing and feeling my body change and enjoyed slowing down and really just embracing the whole experience. It felt very natural and right to me to slow down, tune in, and embrace all of the amazing work that my body was doing without feeling the need to push or prove anything. Making and then nourishing a human was plenty *beast* for me, I didn’t really need to photograph or prove much else beyond how amazing all of that was. I loved it!

  4. I had to stop working out altogether in order to get pregnant, so when I started again at about 4 months (just to be safe!) I did walking, light weights, and swimming 🙂 swimming was my favorite when I was pregnant!

  5. The highlight of my day was going into the classroom I was supply teaching and meeting a huge teddy bear hamster named Roberta. She was adorable and the kids loved her, plus her name was Roberta! How cool is that?

  6. I know I’m not exactly your target audience for this, but awesome post! Your mods for those CF movements are going to benefit a lot of people! I’m impressed that you could go so long without modifying them. Like DUs, I mean at 38 weeks it’s basically a quadruple under with the baby, right? =) Nice job!!

  7. No exercise for me for any of my pregnancies due to complications, I was on bedrest the first and restricted activity the second 2. Not sure what I would’ve done had I not been. I like rainy days once and a while because they feel like no-pressure days to me, even if I do have things to do somehow!

  8. Thank you for this! Burpees are getting difficult now (and kind of uncomfortable) at 23.5 weeks – squat thrusts it is! I always have trouble thinking of a good alternative to some of this stuff. Especially since I have complete placenta previa and can’t do any jumping activities…so no jumping rope, box jumps (doing step ups instead), anything over-the-bar…also have to be careful with cleans, snatches, etc. that require a jump/hop…ah!

  9. Despite the dreary weather my Tuesday was cheery! Some co-workers surprised me with a baby shower which was so sweet (literally, the cupcakes were awesome!)

    Since I’m working from home today and its rainy, the best part is staying in my sweats with my pooch. We love snuggles on the couch.

    At 35 weeks pregnant I’m not exercising as much as I was earlier in pregnancy. I started out running but then as my belly got heavier, I modified to a fast inclined walk.(about 20 weeks) But then I started to get braxton hicks every time so I’ve slowed to a leisurely walk (about 30 weeks) on the treadmill or a 20 minute walk with the dog outside. I figure as long as I’m walking its better than nothing.

    I will say I think the exercising has helped with making sure Baby S is head down and I’m hoping the continued walks help with labor!

  10. Just found your blog and read your story… thanks for sharing so much motivation with the rest of us! My favorite part of yesterday was having a rainy day in with my boys, playing board games, doing puzzles and watching a movie. I’m just starting to get healthy again and try to lose the leftover weight from baby 2 and yesterday’s elliptical workout was hard, but I finished and I’m thankful that I did. Baby steps.

  11. I’m in my 16th week of my first pregnancy and since I’ve been so sick up until this week (throwing up and nauseous all. the. time), I have not exercised yet. I am hoping that now that I am feeling better, I will be able to get back to exercising. Like you, I always feel so much better after a good sweat! And in Texas, all I have to do is walk and I sweat! 🙂 Haha. I’m envious of the rain and you wearing a jacket in your pics. 🙂

  12. Yesterday I went swimming with my husband after work. I love swimming as a workout and don’t get to do it often enough!

    I wanted to ask: we just got a Dunkin’ Donuts here in Los Angeles- what do you recommend? I’m excited to try it out!

  13. Wow you are amazing for being able to do that much while pregnant. I would be scared of over doing it. Every body is different though. I hope to be fit while pregnant some day. My Tuesday was good…made some delicious food. Running in the rain is my absolute favorite followed by reading a great book by the fire.

  14. Tina, I just wanted to say Thank You for being such an inspiration for fellow pregnant women and mommies. I have a 8 week old, and your blog was such great motivation to me to start working out again after my pregnancy. (restricted during due to complications) Keep doing what your are doing!!!

  15. I’m just curious- how did you do cleans with the bigger belly? I know you want to keep the bar close, so I was wondering if that was tricky for you?

  16. I’ve been exercising throughout my pregnancy. Now, at 34 weeks, a lot of the workouts I used to think were no problem have become so so hard! I keep going as long as it doesn’t feel uncomfortable but I’ve definitely been taking more breaks and making more modifications. The most important thing is listening to your body.

  17. Those are so helpful to know! I’m constantly thinking about how when the time comes that we are pregnant, how I will modify my workouts, and how much exercise I hope I’ll still be able to accomplish. I was so impressed with so far into your pregnancy you stayed active! Very encouraging!! Also – that blondie looks delish!

  18. A few things for others continuing CrossFit during pregnancy:

    Box Jumps – 33 weeks (step-ups to a 20” box) — these can be modified to be more difficult by adding weight to the step-up.

    Cleans – 38 weeks — Many experts advise not cleaning from the ground during third trimester. These can be modified to be from the hang position at a lighter weight, or modified with dumbbells, also from the hang.

    Deadlifts – 38 weeks — most advise not doing these with a barbell in third trimester. They can be modified using a kettlebell (or two) and centering the weight directly beneath you.

    Handstand push-ups – 8 weeks (strict presses) — we also have our clients do these with dumbbells on a ball.

    Pull-ups – 38 weeks — Ring rows are a good sub if your weight makes you unable to do these at any point.

    Rope climbs – 13 weeks (pull-ups) — Many trainers have clients discontinue these during pregnancy entirely because of fall risk.

    Snatches – 30-32 weeks (I can’t remember exactly, but I substituted overhead squats or dumbbell snatches) — whatever the modification, once you hit third trimester, full snatches should be modified to a two part movement (ground to over head, pause, then squat). This is because of the relaxin.

    Just some things we’ve done with our clients that I also used in my own modifications (have a 6 week-old).

  19. Good modifications. I’m pre and post-natal certified as a trainer and you really should err on the side of cautious with all weightlifting. But of course, every person is different. My Tuesday included a coffee date, some work and attending an aerials class at a circus center for a writing assignment. So fun!

  20. I am impressed you did crossfire up to 38 weeks – even with modifications! I had to quit exercising to get pregnant. While I was pregnant I worked on my feet all day and that was enough for me! I did a little bit of yoga and went for walks but that was it. I am hoping next pregnancy I feel up to exercising – we will see!

  21. I’m surprised by some of these (though I guess I shouldn’t be since I was following along with your blog the whole time!

    As a trainer who has a couple of pregnant clients, jumping movements were the first things to go as it became uncomfortable to ‘bounce’ with the belly expanding. I’m wondering if your history with these movements kept you going for so long, despite the obvious unnatural feeling. Of course, as you said, it’s different for everyone!

    Great post to share!

  22. Highlight of my Tuesday was watching the Voice with my dog curled up on the couch with me and drinking a cup of coffee. After a craptastic day at the office I enjoyed the downtime with my favorite dog and my favorite vice.
    Best part about a rainy day is that I don’t need any other excuse for my curly hair to be frizzy. I can not wash it and just blame it on the rain!

  23. Great post as always! I exercised for my whole pregnancy. People thought I was nuts but I was in amazing shape for birth. I hit the gym the day before I had my little girl. I think it helped with the recovery as well.

  24. Awesome post–it was fascinating to read what you did instead since I don’t CrossFit. 🙂 You’re so motivating!

    I taught fitness classes until I was 41.5 weeks pregnant. It was my sanity since my baby decided she did NOT want to come out yet, haha. I made a bunch of modifications too while teaching (and pregnant), and it helped me stay as strong as possible. Love that everyone is different!

    My Tuesday was awesome–I did so much (thanks to a short HIIT run in the morning), and had a blast with my baby & a friend’s baby I was babysitting. 🙂

  25. I love the idea of cross fit but due to my high stress levels, the doc says to cool it on the high intensity stuff (I do HIIT). So maybe down the road… But I love the pregnancy modifications!
    xoxo
    The Accidental Mama

  26. Thanks for this post – perfect timing for me. I’m 6 weeks along with #3, but I only started CrossFitting 7 months ago, so I’ve never done it while pregnant. I’m amazed you could do some of those things with a big baby belly, like cleans, rowing and KB swings!! I’d be curious to hear what you thought about mentally when working out in order to pace your preggo self – like, I used to say “it’s okay to be a little uncomfortable” to push myself to run a little faster or do a few more reps. Now I’m not sure what to think, as I obviously don’t want to go too crazy”¦ how were you “in touch” with your body? Did you have any particular strategies for “listening” to it?

    1. Good question! I pretty much went about my usual way of working out, but if something felt weird or uncomfortable, I’d take it down a notch or stop all together.

  27. I did Crossfit during my pregnancy until I developed a blood clot in my second trimester. I was restricted to just walking, which was difficult to transition to because I’ve been Crossfitting for 5 years. My modifications were based on how comfortable I felt performing the exercises…very similar to yours. I had my son a month ago and I’m slowing getting back into Crossfit again. I feel so out of shape!

  28. Love your blog! I’ve been following it since I became pregnant. As a fellow crossfitter I was definately interested in your workouts and modifications. You were an inspiration! I’m now 36 weeks prego and still able to continue crossfit (with doc’s approval even encouragement). I have made similar modifications and continued barbell lifts – but from the hang position as my form was off taking the weight from the floor. I haven’t noticed my “belly” getting in the way as we didn’t grow it overnight. I slowly adjusted to the growing belly and modify without knowing it. Kudos to you for continuing double unders and running. It makes me hurt thinking about the pressure 🙂
    Question I have is coming back did you feel like you developed “bad” habits in your lifts. Did you notice the bar traveling away from your body or did you automatically adjust back to straight line bar path? During my pregnancy I never worried about injuring the baby with these lifts (as doctors ease my initial worries) but more about developing bad form.

    1. I wouldn’t say that I developed bad habits, but things definitely felt weird after I had Quinn. My cleans are back to normal now, but my snatches are horrible. It’s like my body forgot how to do them. I did them pregnant, which was awkward and probably not the best form, and then I didn’t do them for so long (once my belly got too big), so they just need a lot of work now. I pretty much stick to light weight when I am doing them, so I can work on my form.

  29. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I have been looking for information like this and it’s great to have it all in one place. I’m currently wondering about the snatch because I tend to bounce the bar off my body to make sure I hit the pocket (I know this is often considered a no-no). I’m going to try to finally use the correct mechanics so it’s not an issue. Thanks again for writing this post!

  30. Thank you for writing this. Perfect timing for me!! I’ve been crossfitting for about a year and a half and am very newly pregnant (about 6 weeks). One thing I worry about is getting my heart rate too high. Did you slow down on some of the Metcons to keep your heart rate more level, or did your doctor say it wasn’t a concern?

    1. It wasn’t a concern for me, and I still pushed myself, but I never “red lined” on a workout, ya know? I just went as hard as I could without overdoing it and that definitely changed as I got more and more pregnant!

  31. Thank you for posting this! I’m at 21 weeks and last week I discovered I probably shouldn’t do 20″ box jumps any more–didn’t feel too comfortable in my belly, so now I’m doing 20″ step-ups. I’m slowly starting to modify things (pull-ups aren’t feeling too good now, either), but I’m afraid of losing any ability/strength at the movements that I have to stop doing early. I’m just going to keep listening to my body and trying my best.

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