CrossFit during Pregnancy: Second Trimester

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I advocate my experience is right for everyone. Please consult a doctor before embarking on any new fitness regimen, especially during pregnancy. Please remember: General medical opinion states that the level of activity you maintained prior to pregnancy can be maintained with reasonable accommodation and adjustment for demands and physical changes experienced. This last point is critical to CrossFit, as the movements and intensity will require scaling in some form no matter the experience of the athlete. 

2014 Annual Murph Challenge

Finishing second trimester off with Murph over Memorial Day weekend 2014 with the Mid-Missouri CrossFit family. Only scaled the run to rowing!

Well, I successfully continued CrossFit through second trimester! I can’t believe it’s over. I make that sound much harder than it was, it was really pretty awesome. They definitely call it 2nd trimester bliss for a reason.

To recap a little background: while I was fortunate to have found quite a few resources on CrossFit during pregnancy, I feel like early on I had to piece it together from about 20 different websites. Very few bloggers have covered it in-depth, and not surprisingly (and understandably), recommendations and experiences differ across the board. Some people maintain decent working weight and training frequency during their pregnancies, while others drop back quite a bit. Some also opt to scale movements fairly early, while others maintain them much longer.

Although several athletes in my gym have done CrossFit throughout pregnancy, even up until the day of delivery, I’m the first CFL1 in my area who has. I have considered this a special opportunity to not only become a better resource, but a better, more knowledgeable coach in health/fitness-related areas outside of CrossFit as well. Again, I’m not an expert, but it quickly became apparent to me how few and far between good resources are past random articles.

To learn more about my background with CrossFit, check out my CrossFit During Pregnancy: First Trimester post.

HKNB Woven Pant - Kohler Created

Lots of conditioning and mobility to keep everything loose — while modeling the new HKNB line as a Women’s Health Action Hero Ambassador. 

CrossFit during Second Trimester

Communicating with trainers

I not only notified my trainers early in pregnancy, but have remained in constant contact with them about the state of my pregnancy and prenatal care. I don’t pester them, but as things have had to be scaled, they have been aware of it. This has allowed them to stay aware of the changes and know how to coach me, as well as suggest alternative movements or programming when necessary.

Scaling Intensity

While the recommendation of not exceeding a heart rate of 140 bpm is not only outdated but somewhat unrealistic (go ahead and see how fast you can get there, it’s ridiculous what increased blood volume can do), scaling intensity immediately is recommended universally.

How do I gauge this? I maintain a pace that allows me to hold a conversation during my workout. While I definitely am breathing harder, I don’t train to the extent that I am not able to complete sentences without them being broken to the point of being incomprehensible. I literally talk to myself, or others throughout my workout. This amounts (in my case) to about a scale to 75% of my intensity, although I notice myself scaling quite a bit more for workouts that involve running.

As the weather gets warmer, I have ice water with me constantly and drink throughout the workout, even if it means peeing multiple times every workout. I spray myself down with water as well. While temperatures may not be an issue where you are, it’s important to keep cool and hydrate diligently.

Scaling Load

Second trimester has been an exercise in gradual scaling. While my existing working weights were great until about 23 weeks, having to alter bar path has taken them down a bit since then. CrossFit Mom recommends lowering weights to about 25-35% across all lifts, putting me at an overall 50% of previous max — which has been just about perfect for me to comfortably do and still get an awesome workout.

DSC_1823

Expanding where fitness happens — at home and on the road with my own equipment. This was Gateway Motorsports Park for Neil’s first race of the season at 17 weeks pregnant

Scaling Movements

I feel like second trimester has been about doing things until they don’t work anymore. While sit-ups, toes-to-bar and box jumps pretty much stopped as soon as I crossed over into second trimester, other things have remained until they weren’t comfortable.

As I mentioned above, 23 weeks seemed to be the pivotal point of transition. A few key changes:

  • Any lifts from the ground are extremely light, and most are now being done from the hang position. While my belly hasn’t impeded bar path to the point of switching to dumbbells yet, don’t hesitate to swap whenever it becomes an issue.
  • I’ve made the move to deadlift with a heavier kettlebell to centralize the weight beneath me, which is more stable.
  • Squat cleans and snatches are a two-part movement now. The clean or power snatch is the first part, and then lowering myself into the squat is the second part. This is purely to stablize the weight and maintain proper balance.
  • Push-ups are now done on parallettes. DIY tutorial for your own set coming soon!
  • Wall balls are now done away from other people, just to avoid the chance of being hit.
  • Burpees are no longer chest to deck, only into a plank position. I’ve opted to make them slightly more challenging by just doing man-makers with 20-25 lb dumbbells.

Things that will likely change soon (for me):

  • Running and double unders just feel weird, and as it gets hotter, I’ll probably switch to rowing or airdyne.
  • Dumbbells and kettlebells will replace the barbell for most lifts.

The great thing about CrossFit is that there is no end to scaling and alternate movement options, so ask your trainer, or feel free to message me for some that I have implemented into my own training. Everyone hits change at different points too, so just listen to your body and how you are feeling.

Friday Night Lights - CrossFit Fringe - Columbia MO

Completing a scaled Open workout early in second trimester

Hydration and Rest

I was really fortunate that most of my second trimester happened in the late winter and early spring. More energy and great weather made for some really comfortable training. However, the latter part dipped into late spring and summer and it’s been getting pretty hot and humid. Take it easier, and slower if necessary, and drink water constantly, not just during your workouts, but ALL day to prepare for a workout. If it’s too hot, take an extra day off, or try to schedule workouts for early morning or late evening. It’s not optimal, but you do what you have to.

Conclusion

My experience with CrossFit in the second trimester was really good. As I’ve been doing it for 2.5+ years, I was able to maintain much of my normal routine with scaling in intensity to maintain conversation and weight and movement for my own personal comfort level. I emphasize again to talk with your coaches and make a plan. They know you best, and they may have recommendations or areas to consider on top of what any professional or CrossFit blogger could know for your individual circumstances.