Scaling for CrossFit: Second Trimester

More and more changes to the body take place during the second trimester requiring a few modifications.  The good new is that, for many women, the second trimester is when they feel their best.  Morning sickness has often subsided, energy levels are back up, and the motivation to workout has returned! As in the first trimester (and for the rest of your pregnancy) as long as it feels comfortable, keep it up! 

Barbell Movements:

No more exercises that require lying on the back i.e. no more bench press.  I like to substitute with seated dumbbell shoulder press!  Continue to reduce the weights on your lifts to about 50-75% of the loads you were using before pregnancy. Back squats, front squat, overhead squats, and presses should all be ok as long as you are reducing the loads as needed.  For deadlift, either switch to a sumo stance for barbell deadlifts or switch to using a heavy kettlebell which can be placed directly underneath the body.  Olympic lifts can be modified by starting from the hang position as the belly increases in size making it harder to lower the barbell to the ground.  I would also recommend against doing squat cleans and snatches and instead performing power cleans or snatches and then slowly lowering your body down into the squat, making it two separate movements.  Finally, when your belly starts impeding your bar path, consider switching to dumbbells or kettlebells variations of the olympic lifts.

Gymnastics Movements:

Use an elevated surface for push ups (parallettes, a box, a bench, a barbell set up across a rack are all options for incline push ups).  Switch to strict pullups, using resistance bands if necessary or do ring rows instead! Cut out rope climbs and muscle ups (unless you were an experienced gymnast) it’s not worth the risk of falling or the potential for injury of your relaxin loosened joints! Also, for the vast majority of women I would recommend against inverted exercises like handstands and handstand push ups.  You should only be doing advanced gymnastics movements like these if you are very, very experienced with them and can perform them with perfect form.

Cardio Movements:

Keep running, rowing, airdyne, and doing double and single unders as long as they feel comfortable!

Core Exercises:

No more core exercises that require lying on your back so abmat situps are out! You can keep doing toes-to-bar until you can’t anymore then switch to knees-to-elbows.  Planks are also great core exercise!

Other Movements:

You may need to use lighter weights for kettlebell swings, snatches, and wallball shots but these movements are all ok…just do what feels right for your body.  Switch from box jumps to step ups…you can add dumbbells or up the height if you need more of a challenge but for most women being pregnant alone makes box step ups plenty difficult!

Workout Tips:

Keep listening to your body and take it one day and one workout at a time!  As always, make sure you stay plenty hydrated before, during, and after your workouts.  Make sure you are eating enough to fuel you body for your growing baby and for the additional demands of exercise.  Finally, resist the urge to lie on the ground after your WOD.  This can cause an unsafe and sudden drop in blood pressure.  Instead, walk around, do an easy row or some light stretching for a cooldown: anything to help you gradually lower your heart and breathing rates.


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