Working out while you’re pregnant or in the postpartum period can be challenging and confusing in many ways.
There are so many opinions on what exercises to do and what not to do, you’re suddenly way more aware of your bladder, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever have a functioning core ever again.
The hard part is that every pregnancy, labor, delivery, and recovery is different.
What works for one person may not work for the next.
Because of this, I’m not writing this blog to tell you what exercises you should 100% avoid by X number of weeks or which exercises you can start doing after being cleared to workout.
Instead, I would like to focus on mindset.
Your mindset going into your workouts when you’re pregnant and recently postpartum will help tremendously when it comes to maintaining and rebuilding strength in the gym during and after pregnancy.
Focus on Form
In CrossFit, we follow the principle of “core to extremity” when it comes to movement.
When performing exercises, we want to think about engaging the muscles in our trunk first. This is why we emphasize getting your hips open before pulling with your arms in a snatch and why you snap your hips in your kip before pulling your chin over the bar during a kipping pull-up.
Your trunk muscles are your foundation, the epicenter of your body’s strength and stability. Without a strong, stable, properly functioning foundation, it’s going to be hard to see your true potential.
There is a good chance your body is going to crumble or you’re not going to have the strength to build any higher.
During pregnancy, the anatomy of your foundation gets shifted, stretched, loosened, and weakened to allow room for your beautiful new life.
This is all normal and necessary, but needs to be taken into consideration when working out!
You’re probably going to feel pressure, weakness, or instability while doing exercises when pregnant or recently postpartum and that’s okay. However, being aware of and responsive to these feelings during these movements is going to pay off in the long run.
Ideally, don’t encourage unnecessary pressure on our already weakened foundation while pregnant. Then, help that foundation come back together and strengthen after pregnancy.
By being mindful of how your core is functioning, movements can be adjusted to encourage the return of a solid foundation after pregnancy.
What does this look like?
Are you unable to maintain a plank position while doing a push-up?
Or do you feel your back overcompensating for your abs in that position? Drop to your knees or do an incline push-up.
Does your back hurt after doing cleans or are you letting your ribcage flare out while pressing overhead?
These are signs that your core/foundation can’t quite handle that weight…yet.
It’s hard to dial back after maybe being able to hit the Rx or Rx+ button like you’re used to, but you’re most likely going to be able to get stronger faster by taking a step back and focusing on that foundation.
As much as I wanted to do Murph Rx this year, I knew that doing half of the push-ups from my knees was going to help me get stronger than doing regular push-ups with questionable form.
Going too hard too fast is like trying to read a chapter book when you have forgotten the letter sounds, the foundation of reading. You’re going to be able to read that book a lot faster if you take a little time to go over those letter sounds than if you were to just stubbornly stare at the book over and over again.
How do you get a solid core when sit-ups and V-ups are now almost impossible?
More on that next time!
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