Functional training for pregnancy and post-partum ladies

Thank you to the mums for allowing us to re-produce and link this outstanding information for exercising pregnant and post-partum women.

We hope it is useful in making an educated choice about what is right for you and your baby/ies.

NB: All information on is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

Did you know?

Women who exercise during pregnancy:

  • Have reduced weight gain and fat deposition during pregnancy
  • Have fewer pregnancy discomforts
  • Report a more rapid physical and emotional recovery from delivery
  • Tend to have easier, shorter and less complicated labors
  • Have less need for pain relief during labor
  • Have more stamina during labor
  • Increase their aerobic capacity
  • Decrease their susceptibility to illness
  • Increase their energy level

Babies of exercising mums:

  • Have significantly lower heart rates than babies of non-exercising mums
  • Are better able to cope with the stress of birth
  • Have a greater ability to adapt to life outside the uterus
  • Are more healthy at birth
  • Are leaner at birth and tend to stay lean as they grow
  • Sleep through the night sooner
  • Are better able to self-calm
  • Score higher on tests of general intelligence and oral language skills
  • Have decreased risks of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases later in life
  • Mothers, who ingest Omega-3 during pregnancy, have babies with advanced levels of attention spans, which can last well into the second year of life.

Trimester 1

Do’s and Don’ts

In the 1st trimester, there are only a few things to be careful of. For most women, it is ok to lie on the back until 12 weeks, so you can still do sit ups. If you were already doing CrossFit before you became pregnant, you should still be able to perform most exercises.

However, it is recommended that you reduce weights on Olympic lifts and exercises such as kettlebell swings. 40-50% of your max seems to work for most women.Your blood volume increases when you become pregnant, so trying to keep your heart rate at 140 bpm when exercising doesn’t allow you to do much.

Rather than focusing on heart rate, pay attention to your breathing. You should still be able to talk while working out. This is a time for maintenance not intensity. Don’t work out until the point of exhaustion and don’t get over-heated.

Chose a workout space close to the window or fan, because you don’t want your core temperature to get too high.Make sure you rest between rounds or exercises as you need to, and sip water before, during and after your workout; and as always, check with your doctor that you have no considerations regarding continued exercise.

If you were not already doing CrossFit prior to becoming pregnant, it is not recommended that you commence a “vigorous” exercise programme during pregnancy.

Working with a Coach one-on-one may be a good choice for you, or participating in CrossFit Auckland Women and scaling as necessary.


Trimester 2


Do’s and Don’ts

In the 2nd trimester, more changes in your body begin to occur, and workouts need to be adjusted accordingly. First, no more exercises that require lying on the back. The uterus weighs enough to cut off blood supply to the baby, so alternate core exercises will need to be implemented.

Do push-ups until you can’t any more, then move to incline and then wall push-ups. You’ll still feel your abs working! Kipping pull-ups will probably start to become uncomfortable so switching to ring rows is one alternative.This would also be the time to switch from box jumps to step ups.

Your joints are looser due to the relaxin hormone, so ballistic exercises are best adapted. Olympic lifting should be modified to minimal at this point. Some women are still comfortable doing the lifts with light weight, but this is not for everyone.

Front squat, back squat and overhead squat with an empty bar or even wooden dowel will still be enough work, but you don’t want to squat below 90 degrees.

Shoulder press and push press are excellent at working the upper body. Rowing, walking and good mornings are all exercises that should feel comfortable to you, and help keep your hips and back strong!

Remember to check with your doctor that you have no considerations regarding continued exercise.

Trimester 3

Do’s and Don’ts

In the 3rd trimester, there are a lot of changes. Your growing belly will be in your way for a lot of exercises. If you were still able to do push-ups in your 2ndtrimester, you will probably have to go to the wall now.

When you squat, it should only be bodyweight squats and not past 90 degrees. Push press and shoulder press are still good exercises, but don’t go too heavy.If you can still row, go for it. It works a lot of muscles. Keep walking, and doing good mornings, and do step-ups on either the 20” or 12” box, whichever your body will allow.

Do farmer’s walk, lunges (not too deep) and ring rows. Don’t forget to rest, sip water and make sure your doctor ok’s your exercise programme. Many exercising women feel comfortable to continue modified exercise right through to birth – always listen to your body and do what feels right for you!


Do’s and Don’ts

In the post-partum phase, you can begin to get back to your normal workouts. The main things to watch for are ballistic movements; take care of your ligaments and listening to your body.

Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel good.

Increase weight and intensity slowly while your body adjusts to not being pregnant. You will be tired initially, caring for a newborn. Give yourself a little time to get back into it, but above all, keep moving!You will get the energy you need to keep up with your baby.

Working out will help you get your body back, and help you feel like you are doing something for yourself. It’s good for the mind, good for the body. Make sure your doctor approves of your post-natal exercise programme.



Your CrossFit Auckland Coach will assist you with scaling exercises during workouts and/or selecting alternatives for any exercises that become uncomfortable, or those on the “no-go list”. Keep up good communication with your Coach/es and use the groupings below to help them advise you appropriately.

Most important is that you listen to your body and discontinue doing anything that simply ‘doesn’t feel right’ for you.

  • Advanced: You are in this group if you were already doing CrossFit before you got pregnant, or did it throughout your pregnancy and are now post-partum.
  • Intermediate: You are in this group if you were doing some form of regular exercise before you got pregnant, or exercised throughout your pregnancy and want to start CrossFit post-partum.
  • Beginner: You are in this group if you are just starting CrossFit after becoming pregnant, or are newly post-partum.

When to Stop! When you’re exercising, be constantly aware of how you feel. You should stop immediately if you experience:

  • Dizziness or Faintness
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Uterine Contractions or Pain
  • Vaginal Bleeding or Fluid Leaking
  • Heart Palpitations

If you have any of these problems, stop and consult your doctor.

These links also provide sound guidelines if you would like to do further reading and research:


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