How to Modify CrossFit While Pregnant

We all know the evidence behind staying active while you are pregnant. Thirty minutes or more of exercise a day is great throughout your pregnancy. For those wondering if CrossFit is safe during pregnancy, let me assure you that I did it through two pregnancies (one was twins) and felt great. Working out during pregnancy can help:

  • Reduce Back Pain
  • Reduce Swelling & Inflammation
  • Help Control Weight Gain
  • Improve Mood and Energy
  • Help you Bounce Back Postpartum


As you go through your pregnancy that are 3 ways to adjust the workouts: alter repetitions, alter intensity and/or alter the movement itself. The big thing you want to watch out for is pain. You should never feel pain with any movement. Later in the pregnancy if you see coning in your belly, you should modify the movement as well. Always listen to your body. It will tell you how much to push or scale back.

Here is a guide to help you through your modifications. You may feel pretty good in the 1st trimester and need very little scaling. That was the case for me. Overall, I was pretty tired so I chose to scale back the intensity to start but didn’t need to alter movements. In the 2nd Trimester that bump is popping out and may inhibit certain movements so you may want to switch that barbell for some dumbbells. During the 2nd trimester you should eliminate any twisting movements, as well. There aren’t a lot of these in CrossFit, so it isn’t too tough to follow. Here is a list of modifications for the most common CrossFit movements.

Push Up -> Elevated Push ups on a box/bench

Burpees –> Top half burpees (remove push up)

Barbell –> You can substitute dumbbells for any barbell movement

Box Jump –> Box step up

Pull Up –> Ring Row or PVC banded pulldown

Double Unders –> Line jumps

Sit Ups –> Plank

Handstand Pushups –> Seated dumbbell press

In the second trimester a hormone called Relaxin softens your ligaments. I felt like my squat got deeper overnight. You do want to be careful about weight and intensity when this happens. As long as you can control the movement, you should be safe. If you are struggling to control your squat on the way down squat to a box or wall ball. You can easily eliminate high impact movements like running by replacing them with a rower or bike. As you go can decrease the intensity or the weight.

The third trimester is very similar to the second…with less space. As that stomach grows things may get a bit harder to do. If squatting is tough, switch to power (above parallel). All movements have variations and modifications. Just ask your coach if something is uncomfortable. There is no reason to ever ‘push through’ a movement. Working out through your entire pregnancy is safe as long as you are cleared by your doctor. With my daughter I got a workout in the morning I was induced. This also allowed me to bounce back and jump back in postpartum.

In the end, always play it safe. Always listen to your body. You know yourself the best. Take it easy on yourself. You are growing a human! You are doing a great job.