“Can I keep doing burpees in pregnancy?”
Burpees are a pretty demanding full body movement and because I get asked about them often, I’m sharing some considerations to take and how you can make adjustments to your training to accommodate your evolving body, while also supporting your core and pelvic floor health through pregnancy and beyond.
Full burpees require a good amount of coordination and stamina, and they can place quite a bit of stress on the core and pelvic floor. Higher impact movements (like the jumping in/out and up portions of a burpee) can put more pressure on your pelvic floor which is already a bit vulnerable in pregnancy.
Burpees also require core strength which is great, but it can place some strain on your abdominal muscles if pressure isn’t managed well.
In addition, a growing baby bump makes it pretty difficult to perform a full range of motion burpee at a certain point. I do not recommend moms to continue full burpees (chest/belly to the floor) once their belly has popped out; the risks of slamming down on your belly far exceed any benefits.
So how do you know if it’s time to make a change with burpees?
It will vary from woman to woman as far as when she should put a pause on full burpees. One woman may be fine continuing them well into the second trimester when another woman may need to stop sooner in the first trimester.
Here are a few things to “listen for” when considering if it’s time to take a break from or adjust burpees:
Coning or doming along the midline of the abdomen (particularly during the push-up portion of the burpee)
Pulling sensations in the abdomen
ANY amount of unintentional leaking (urine or feces)
Pelvic pain or pressure
Heaviness or a bulge feeling in the vagina
Pain during or after exercise (back, hips, pelvic, belly)
If you experience any of these symptoms, you can try adjusting the strategy you are doing to see if that helps, or you can choose another exercise.
Remember that this won’t be forever, just for now and it can really help set you up long term!
What can you do instead?
The great thing is that there are many great options for substitutes for burpees. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Incline burpees (with or without the hop, depending on how your pelvic floor responds)
Walking burpees (without a push-up, or a shortened range of motion push-up from the knees)
Squat plus an incline push-up
Banded burpees (squat plus a banded chest press)
Landmine thrusters (squat to press)
Any form of cardio (biking, rowing, walking, carries, sled work, etc.)
These are just some options that you can use as substitutes; get creative to maintain versatility in your training. And you do not have to substitute burpees with a movement that completely mimics the response you get from them. Sometimes that is what you need to change completely, so don’t be afraid to do a completely different exercise if needed.
As a reminder, just because you can still do burpees at 20+ weeks pregnant, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should. The rewards rarely outweigh the risks to your core and pelvic floor. There are many different ways you can maintain your stamina during pregnancy without placing more stress on your body.
Want more info on how you can navigate symptoms, exercise, and your journey? Fill out this form to schedule a FREE call with me to discuss how you can get better guidance with exercise and managing symptoms in pregnancy!