This post is all about CrossFit pregnancy modifications!
Are you pregnant and asking yourself questions like “what can I substitute for rope climbs during pregnancy?” or “what activities should a pregnant woman avoid in CrossFit?”
As a competitive CrossFit athlete, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child, the first thing I wanted to know was how to modify CrossFit for pregnancy so that I could safely continue my training (and not lose all the hard-earned skills and strength I’d worked for!)
Thankfully, from the time I learned that I was pregnant, I was surrounded by coaches who are very experienced with CrossFit during pregnancy and I was taught well from the beginning. I’m excited to now share that info with you!
The CrossFit pregnancy alternatives in this post will allow you to not only stick with your training, but also to continue growing and getting stronger!
This post is not associated with CrossFit. It is simply personal recommendations from a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. These recommendations are not and do not replace medical advice. You can read our full disclaimer here.
All About CrossFit Pregnancy Modifications
Can I Still Do CrossFit When Pregnant?
The golden question.
Even though I knew the answer in my gut, the first thing I asked my OB when I found out I was pregnant was “is CrossFit safe during pregnancy?”
His answer: “Yes! It’s safe to do anything you were already doing prior to getting pregnant.”
When Should I Modify CrossFit During Pregnancy?
Modifying your CrossFit workouts is mainly about doing what feels comfortable. You should always modify CrossFit movements if they:
- Make you feel uncomfortable in your abdomen or back.
- Cause tension or pressure to your belly.
- Require a crunching movement in the belly.
You should also modify movements where you could potentially hit your belly.
CrossFit during pregnancy is all about doing what’s beneficial for you and your baby.
Don’t try to do things just because you can or just to prove yourself.
Instead, always do what’s actually going to benefit your fitness, and help take you to the next level, while keeping your baby safe.
CrossFit Movements to Avoid During Pregnancy
- Box jumps
- Handstand walking
- Toes to bar
- GHD sit-ups
- Any other movements that involve crunching of the core
*I’ve provided modifications for all of these movements in the next section! 🙌🏼
You’ll see some women still performing some these movements while pregnant. However, there’s simply no point when you could spend that time doing movements that work with your body (and what you actually need to prepare it for right now) rather than forcing it to do movements that are uncomfortable and potentially setting yourself back further.
For example, if there are sit-ups prescribed in a workout, you can easily switch those out for dead bugs. The dead bugs are great for your TVA (transverse abdominals), which will help your core stay strong through your pregnancy as well as make birth and recovery easier!
Must-Know CrossFit Pregnancy Modifications
Skills: CrossFit Pregnancy Modifications
“Can I do modified burpees while pregnant?” — Absolutely, you can! There are several different modifications you can choose from too, and you may change which modifications you like best as you progress throughout your pregnancy!
- Knee burpees with chest tap. — Basically, you’re doing a normal burpee without letting your belly hit the floor. Instead, you’ll come down to your knees in a “knee push-up” position, and then tap your chest to the ground. — This pregnancy modification allows you to still hit the CrossFit standard, while keeping your baby safe.
- Plank burpees. — Burpee down to a plank position, instead of all the way to the floor, and come back up like normal.
- Burpees to a box. — Burpee with your hands on a box, come down to your chest on the box (your belly will not be touching anything), and jump back up.
- Any of the above options with removing the jump down and/or up from the burpee (step out/up instead.)
2. TOES-TO-BAR AND SIT-UPS
Any type of crunching of the core while pregnant is not recommend. Could you do it? Probably so. But fitness isn’t a matter of “could.” It’s a matter of “should.”
It’s a matter of doing what’s best for your body, where you’re currently at. So just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
The reason you shouldn’t do toes-to-bar while pregnant is because it’s simply not beneficial. Choose doing a movement that’s going to work with your body during this season, instead of against it.
You should definitely use a toes to bar modification for pregnancy because performing them can cause serious coning which can make diastasic recti and postpartum recovery worse.
3. DOUBLE UNDERS
There’s no need for a pregnancy modification for double unders, unless they feel uncomfortable. I’ve done double unders my entire pregnancy because they feel great!
Jumping isn’t going to hurt your baby.
However, if you choose to continue doing dubs… You’re going to need to practice kegels a bit extra so that you don’t pee on yourself! 😂
- Single unders
- Toe taps to a kettlebell (set a kettlebell in front of you and alternate tapping toes with a small hop)
- Quick plate step-ups (stack a short pile of plates at a height you feel comfortable)
- Quick plate step-overs
4. BOX JUMPS
You can do box jumps as long as you are 100% confident that you won’t trip. However, once your bump starts getting of any noticeable size, you will probably want to stop.
Your balance is probably going to be a little off during this time and it’s absolutely not worth tripping and potentially hitting your belly.
- Box step-ups
- Lateral box step-ups
As long as push-ups are comfortable, they’re fine for you to do while pregnant!
However, once you get into your second trimester, you’ll probably notice that the weight of your belly isn’t comfortable in the push-up position. At this point, you may choose to modify.
- Knee push-ups
- Box/bench push-ups
- Push-ups from a bar (put a low bar across a rig and put your hands on it)
Both bar muscle ups and ring muscle ups aren’t recommended during pregnancy.
Doing bar muscle ups would mean smacking your belly on the bar and ring muscle ups requires way too much flexion of the abdomen.
- Jumping pull-ups
- Banded pull-ups
- Seated pull-ups
- Ring rows
Strict pull-ups are fine to do for the duration of your pregnancy as long as they feel good. (Personally, I quit doing them just a few months in because the hanging movement caused an uncomfortable pulling sensation in my abdomen.)
Kipping and butterfly pull-ups are also okay to do as long as they are comfortable. (Listen to your body.)
- Jumping pull-ups (to a low bar)
- Banded pull-ups
- Seated pull-ups
- Ring rows
Planks are definitely okay in your first trimester, but once your baby starts getting bigger, they will put strain on both your back and your abdomen.
If you have a strong core, you can do planks for up to 30 seconds at a time.
Gymnastics: CrossFit Pregnancy Modifications
9. HANDSTAND PUSH-UPS
HSPUs are safe during pregnancy, you just need to modify how you perform them to make space for your bump.
When bending your legs for your kip, keep them outside your belly, rather than bringing them straight down in front of your belly.
10. HANDSTAND WALKS
Unless you are very comfortable with handstand walking, it’s not suggested to do this during pregnancy because you balance will be a bit off. It’s not worth falling over and potentially hurting yourself or your baby.
Wall walks to a plank position
11. WALL WALKS
Wall walks are safe while pregnant, as long as you refrain from your belly touching the floor at the beginning and end of each rep.
Start and end in the plank position. No touching your belly to the floor. — If you need to rest at the end of each rep, come down to your knees.
12. ROPE CLIMBS
The main reason you won’t want to do rope climbs while pregnant is simply due to the risk of falling. — There’s always a risk of falling when you do rope climbs, but I can only assume you want to lower your risk of injury while carrying your precious baby inside you. 🥰
- Zombie climbs (you may want to perform with bent knees)
- Ring rows
Lifts: CrossFit Pregnancy Modifications
PRO TIP: A good rule of thumb is to never lift more than 80% of your 1 rep max on any lift during pregnancy. Also never attempt a lift you don’t know you are going to hit. When in doubt, go lighter, or at least ask for a spot.
Cleans are safe in the first trimester or until your bump starts poking out. — The only reason you won’t want to clean after that is because you don’t want to risk hitting your bump with the bar.
You’ll hear some people say “just retrain yourself to go around your bump,” but this is bad coaching. You don’t want to retrain your bar path to be wrong, only to need to retrain it correctly right after your pregnancy.
Never intentionally create bad habits.😀 Not worth it.
- Dumbbell cleans
- Dumbbell hang cleans
- Front squats from the rig
Again, snatches are okay while pregnant until you have to start changing your bar path to go around your bump. This is bad technique and you don’t need to train yourself to do snatches incorrectly.
Instead, simply modify for the short term of your pregnancy (trust me, I know it seems like an eternity… But it really does go by so fast!)
- Dumbbell snatches
- Dumbbell hang snatches
- Drop snatches (taken from the rig)
- Overhead squats (taken from the rig)
As long as deadlifts feel okay, you don’t need a CrossFit pregnancy modification. However, for me, a few months into pregnancy, deadlifts started causing a lot of uncomfortable pulling in the sides of my abdomen, so I began to modify.
- Very light deadlifts
- Sumo deadlifts
- Double dumbbell deadlifts
- Single kettlebell sumo deadlifts
- Kettlebell single leg deadlifts (these are great for challenging the core and balance during pregnancy!)
Ergs/Cardio: CrossFit Pregnancy Modifications
Some women feel great while running during pregnancy! If that’s you, by all means, run your little heart out!
If running is uncomfortable, try one of the CrossFit pregnancy modifications below. ☺️
- Power walk
- Bike erg
- Ski erg
- Farmer’s carry
- Sled push
Rowing may feel comfortable during your first trimester (before your bump really starts to pop), but after that, it probably won’t feel very nice. Just pick the modification that’s right for you!
- Row with your knees outward (creating space for your bump)
- Bike erg
- Ski erg
Skiing is one of the ergs I’ve actually enjoyed during pregnancy because it’s super easy to modify it for your bump!
Place your feet on the outside of the erg, instead of standing on it like you normally would. Then, ski as normal!
There you have it! Those are the main CrossFit pregnancy scaling options you’ll want to be aware of while you’re carrying your sweet babe!
Most other movements are considered safe, just remember to do what feels comfortable to your body (every woman is different!), use good form, and don’t perform any crunching movements.
CrossFit.com has also provided this CrossFit pregnancy PDF if you need even more detail!
CrossFit Pregnancy Workouts
When in doubt, you can always do workouts that are designed specifically for pregnancy!
Here are 10 pregnancy CrossFit workouts you can do from home or the gym!
This post was all about CrossFit pregnancy modifications.