High-Intensity Work-Outs and Pregnancy
A Second Trimester Review
Continuing my work-outs through my second trimester of pregnancy was actually easier than the first trimester. I had more energy, was more confident that I was doing something healthy for my baby and myself, and I learned so many great things to pass along to other mommies.
I also discovered that WODs were made for moms! That is probably not the original intention, but they are the fastest, most efficient way to work-out. What mom isn’t looking for that? I used to spend hours, literally hours, working out at home: running, following work-out videos, you name it; I tried it. Now I can still work out at home and do it around my daily schedule: chasing a toddler around, my businesses, cooking meals, doing chores, and it doesn’t take away time from my family or friends. I can even work-out with a little one running around next to me, or better yet, joining me!
In October I attended a “CrossFitting and Pregnancy” seminar with Kat Grosshaupt (http://katgrosshaupt.tumblr.com/) in which she shared great information on continuing high intensity work-outs before, during, and after pregnancy. The most valuable thing I walked away with was increased confidence. I know my body, I know what I can and cannot do (pregnant or not), and I am confident that my work-outs are benefiting my baby and me. Here are some of my take-aways from Kat’s seminar:
• Increased confidence
• Importance of a warm-up
• Treat every day as a new day. Every day is different and you will feel different each day of your pregnancy.
• Get back to things slowly after delivery. Take 6 weeks to recover, listen to your doctor’s recommendations, but continue to work slowly to minimize loss of range of motion (ie: slow squats, very light-weight presses (you can do this with your baby).
Here are a few more nuggets I have learned and discovered:
* I am NOT a doctor, and I have no medical experience or expertise. I am not writing to give advice. I just want to share my personal experience of continuing my high-intensity work-outs through pregnancy in hopes to encourage other mommies to do the same (at their own level of course). I am not classified as a “high risk” pregnancy and had been doing high-intensity WODs for 6 months prior to becoming pregnant. It is important to consult your with your physician before beginning any work-out regimen.
Benefits to Mom
Personally one of the advantages of my doing high-intensity WODs was the core strength and stability I have. With my first pregnancy I had to quit running or jogging by about 20 weeks, because my belly was bouncing all over the place and it was very uncomfortable. I couldn’t even ride in my dad’s jeep on the beach around 13 weeks because the bouncing was so uncomfortable to me. This time around I can feel the core strength I have developed and what a difference it makes in carrying my baby. We made many beach rides in the jeep this Thanksgiving (I was 26 weeks), and the bouncing never bothered me once.
It has also been exciting to see more studies on exercise during pregnancy that are dispelling some of the common misconceptions such as this one which states: “In decades past, the conventional wisdom has been that resting during pregnancy was important for the baby’s safety. This, unfortunately, is a misconception that is occasionally still seen today. Now, however, we know that regular exercise can be beneficial to women’s health in various ways – including improvements in mood and energy during pregnancy. With this new study, there is even stronger incentive to exercise for your baby’s health, too.” (abc News. November 11, 2013. Shazia Mehmood Siddique, M.D. http://abcnews.go.com/m/blogEntry?id=20848522&ref=https%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com)
I have also talked with several birth coaches and doulas and read birth stories from various blogs and websites that all reported shorter labor times, shorter pushing times, and speedier recovery times were experienced by high intensity work-out moms. Furthermore, women who continued their work-outs throughout pregnancy tend to be able to endure more physically because they have been strengthening the muscles needed for delivery. How cool is that?!
I was already aware of the benefits of kegels from my previous pregnancy, but I had no idea how much air squats could help too. Air squats could possibly be even more beneficial to strengthening the pelvic floor! Kelly Starrett, of Mobility WOD (mobilitywod.com), shared this segment on the pelvic floor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM1F-MkTcvs
Modifications I had to make in my second trimester
One of the first things I modified was box jumps. I switched to step ups by about 12 weeks. Personally, I just didn’t want to risk the fall. Then came the weight reduction with the barbell and kettlebell movements. I felt that personal records or maxing out was not what I wanted to be doing during this time. I understand that some women (especially those who have been doing high intensity work-outs or weightlifting for a year or more) feel confident continuing to max or lift heavy. More power to them! That just wasn’t me during this pregnancy. I was at about 20-21 weeks when my bar path started to go from close to the body to a little too far in front, and I had to switch to more kettlebell movements. I think it is so cool that almost all of the barbell movements can be modified to kettlebell movements! I also scaled the weight down that I used for back squats. With the added weight and pressure from my growing belly on my spine and back, I wanted to ensure I protected my back. All in all, I just kept doing what felt comfortable, and I reduced the weight or quit doing the moves that were uncomfortable. I feel that is the most important thing with any exercise regimen: listen to your body and do what feels right for you. Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different, and be proud that you are up, moving, and getting some exercise! I put together some resources for modifying and scaling high-intensity work-outs during pregnancy: Scaling & Modifying your WODs during Pregnancy
Now that I am through my first trimester food aversions, I am able to eat meats again and return (almost fully) to my regular Paleo diet. In the CrossFit and Pregnancy seminar with Kat that I mentioned earlier we discussed our diets. There were several women (including myself) with “surprise” pregnancies. A couple women were told they could not become pregnant. One of the things we all had in common was that we had all begun eating a Paleo diet before becoming pregnant. Hmmm…. Just thought that was interesting
I hope this inspires you to continue your work-outs throughout your pregnancy.
Resources and Blogs I follow:
– Kat Grosshaupt: http://katgrosshaupt.tumblr.com/ – CrossFitting Pregnant: http://crossfitkoppregnancy.blogspot.com/
– Drugs and Lactation Database: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT
– Breaking Muscle: Women’s Fitness: http://breakingmuscle.com/knowledge/womens-fitness
– Yoga Tune-up: https://www.yogatuneup.com/
– “Is it OK to do CrossFit training, exercise while pregnant?”, By Leia Mendoza / World-Herald staff writer: http://www.livewellnebraska.com/article/20131212/LIVEWELL02/131219690/1161#is-it-ok-to-do-crossfit-training-exercise-while-pregnant
– Paleo cookbooks:
• Paleo Slow Cooker Recipes
• Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle
• Eat Like a Dinosaur: Recipe & Guidebook for Gluten-free Kids
Aly Culp is a wife and mom to a busy two-year-old with another on the way. She is passionate about continuing her WODs during pregnancy, fitting them into her busy schedule, and encouraging and supporting others to do the same. Aly is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer in Frisco, TX and a co-owner of WODatHome.com, a site that provides high-intensity work-outs, modifications and scaling options for all fitness levels, video instruction, and more for athletes looking to work-out at home with minimal equipment.
We are thrilled to announce that have released another addition to your WOD at Home membership! Our WOD at Home Mom Pregnancy WODS will support you through your 9 months of pregnancy providing:
- Daily Movement and Mobility to prepare you for the day’s work-out,
- Dynamic Warm-up,
- Skill/Strength work,
- Daily-updated WODs strategically planned and tested with details and instructions you will not get from other WOD websites,
- Exactly how to scale or modify each movement for your stage of pregnancy, fitness limitations, or due to equipment limitations,
- Movement pictures and links to online videos explaining each of the movements in the WOD, so there are no questions about if you are doing the correct move or performing it safely.
Are you getting ready for pregnancy?
Get started with WOD at Home now and take advantage of WOD at Home’s work-out sample that will have you on the path to the best health and fitness of your life. You will seamlessly be able to incorporate the WOD at Home Mom work-outs as soon as they are available in early 2014!
You will be the first to know about all the WOD at Home Mom updates!