If you have a healthy pregnancy, physical activity is not only safe, but recommended.

Exercising can help:

  • reduce back pain
  • reduce ankle swelling
  • prevent excess weight gain
  • boost mood and energy
  • get you in better shape for labor and delivery

You should check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. If you were active before pregnancy, staying active over the next nine months will likely only benefit you.

CrossFit during pregnancy

If you’re expecting, it’s generally recommended to bring the intensity of physical activity down a notch. You should also avoid:

  • contact sports
  • extensive jumping or hopping
  • exercises where falling is more likely

So based on these criteria, CrossFit is out, right?

Not so! CrossFit is a scalable workout, meaning you can easily reduce intensity. If you’ve done CrossFit or similar activities before, it’s probably fine for you to continue. The key is to listen to your body. What you’re able to do safely will change from trimester to trimester. But you’ll be able to find moves or modify them to fit all stages of your pregnancy.

These five exercises are pregnancy-safe and CrossFit-certified. Incorporate them into your weekly workout regime to reap the benefits.

1. Rowing

Rowing is a fundamental CrossFit exercise. It’s also pregnancy-safe. It’s low-impact, but requires muscular strength, stamina, and cardiac endurance.

Equipment needed: rowing machine

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, gastrocnemius and soleus, erector spinae, obliques, rectus abdominus, serratus anterior, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius, deltoids, biceps, triceps

  1. Sit down on the machine and adjust the foot straps and settings according to your height and ability level.
  2. Grab hold of the handle with both hands. Sit tall with your back straight.
  3. When you’re ready to row, start by pushing with the legs. Pivot at the hips to tilt back slightly so your shoulders pass your pelvis. Pull your arms to your chest.
  4. Return to start in the reverse order. First straighten your arms, then pivot your pelvis forward, then bend at the knee.
  5. Throughout the movement, keep your heels glued to the foot panels.

Row 400 to 500 meters in between the other exercises listed below, for a total of 5 rounds.

2. Regular or elevated pushups

Pushups are one of the most fundamental strength exercises. While they work many muscles, they especially improve upper body strength. If you’re in the second or third trimester, perform the same steps below, but stay elevated by putting your hands on a box or bench to protect your belly.

Equipment needed: box or bench (for second and third trimester)

Muscles worked: pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, triceps

  1. Start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and feet slightly closer together.
  2. Bracing your core, start to lower your body down by bending your arms. Keep your elbows close to the body.
  3. Lower yourself until your arms reach a 90-degree angle.
  4. Explode back up until you reach the starting position.
  5. Perform 5 sets of 12-15 reps.

3. Dumbbell thrusters

For a cardio-leaning strength move, thrusters are a quick and efficient way to work muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time.

Equipment needed: dumbbells

Muscles worked: trapezius, deltoids, quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus medius and maximus

  1. Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your toes angled outward. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip, and then bend your arms so the weights are at shoulder height with palms facing away.
  2. Squat, keeping your heels planted and knees bowing outward.
  3. Begin to return to the starting position, keeping dumbbells at shoulders.
  4. As you return to starting position, push up through the heels and move your hips forward. Use the upward momentum to push the dumbbells upward over your shoulders into a press.
  5. End with your arms straight and the dumbbells completely overhead.
  6. Begin to squat again and lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders. They should reach your shoulders before your legs hit a parallel position.
  7. Perform 5 sets of 12-15 reps.

4. Overhead squat

The overhead squat works your lower body, but also requires great core stability. It tests your strength and balance. Use a dowel instead of a barbell if you’re new to CrossFit or weightlifting, or use just your own body weight if that is intense enough.

Equipment needed: dowel or barbell

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus medius and maximus, erector spinae, rectus abdominis, obliques, trapezius, deltoids

  1. Start standing up straight, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grip the dowel or barbell wider than shoulder-width apart. Extend arms straight overhead with the dowel in the frontal plane.
  3. Begin to squat, pulling your hips down while keeping your weight in your heels.
  4. With arms still extended, keep the dowel or barbell straight overhead deliberately to keep it aligned with your heels.
  5. Squat to below parallel (for the first trimester) and at parallel (for second and third trimester).
  6. Stand to full extension.
  7. Perform 5 sets of 8-10 reps.

5. Pregnancy-safe burpees

Burpees are a fundamental CrossFit move, but the traditional form isn’t safe during the second or third trimester. This modified version will still get your heart rate pumping, but with less jarring and jumping.

Equipment needed: wall, tall bench, or box

Muscles worked: quadriceps, gluteus medius and maximus, hamstrings, pectoralis, deltoids, triceps

  1. Stand in front of the elevated surface with your toes pointed slightly out.
  2. Drop to a squat, keeping your weight in your heels. Allow your knees to bow slightly out.
  3. At the top of the squat, do a pushup against the elevated surface. This is 1 rep.
  4. Perform 5 sets of 10-12 reps.

The Takeaway

Performing CrossFit workouts during pregnancy can be safe and effective, but always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise routine. Getting 30 minutes of exercise on all or most days can greatly benefit your health. This exercise routine provides cardio and strength training for a well-rounded, pregnancy-safe workout.