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The CrossFit Open 21.1 for the Pregnant & Postpartum Athlete

Here we go! The 2021 CrossFit Open has officially begun. This year, the Open is structured in a very different way than years prior and I think they’ve made some great changes by adding more divisions to be even more inclusive. Even though there are scaled options for each of the workouts, pregnancy and postpartum are very different seasons that deserve different considerations than random lists of exercises that are okay or exercises that should be avoided.

Before diving into strategies for 21.1, I want to remind you of a few important things during this chapter:

  • Athlete brain is real, especially during a competitive time like the Open. The Open puts most athletes in a different mindset to allow them to push harder and faster than they normally would. Before going there, think about your current AND long term goals, way beyond pregnancy or trying to prove something early on postpartum.

  • Pregnancy is not forever, but postpartum is. Just because you can do something right now, it doesn't necessarily mean you should.

  • Pregnancy and postpartum is a really great time to hone in on your movement strategies, as well as to build and maintain a solid foundation for your core and pelvic floor. This is to help set you up as best as you can for long term health, strength, function, and performance.

  • This is not the most appropriate time to PR a workout or hit a new max.

  • Think about the risk vs. the reward of doing each movement and whether or not it will serve your long term goals.

21.1 Open Workout

For time:

1 wall walk

10 double unders

3 wall walks

30 double unders

6 wall walks

60 double unders

9 wall walks

90 double unders

15 wall walks

150 double unders

21 wall walks

210 double unders

Time cap: 15 min.

Here is one way (there are SO many options here!) you can make this work for where you are at:

15 min. AMRAP (moving for quality)

1 shoulder tap (per side) + push-up

10 quick plate step ups

3 shoulder tap + push-up

30 quick plate step ups

6 shoulder tap + push-up

60 quick plate step ups

9 shoulder tap + push-up

90 quick plate step ups

15 shoulder tap + push-up

150 quick plate step ups

21 shoulder tap + push-up

210 quick plate step ups

Shoulder taps + push-up: Perform a shoulder tap on each side, then a push-up. Try these from an incline, in a quadruped position, or in a plank if you don’t experience any symptoms. It may be helpful to use an exhale as you do the shoulder taps and as you perform the push-up to help manage pressure in your abdomen.

*Due to the high demand of wall walks, they can put more pressure and stress into the linea alba and the pelvic floor (e.g. coning of the abdomen, leaking, and/or heaviness in the pelvic region). Laying flat on the ground isn’t appropriate once your belly has popped out and likely would be very uncomfortable anyways. Since your center of gravity shifts in pregnancy, it can be much more difficult to find balance, making it a riskier movement.

Quick plate step ups: Use one or a couple of bumper plates or a low box to step up and down quickly. Try to breathe throughout the movement so you aren’t holding your breath. If you notice any leaking, pressure, etc. (or even the sensation of), slow them down a bit and don’t be afraid to scale the reps back if the higher reps aren’t feeling good for you.

*Even though you may still feel okay doing double unders, they put a lot of stress on already vulnerable tissue in pregnancy and postpartum. Remember: just because you can, it doesn't mean it's appropriate.

AND although single unders are often a sub for double unders for general athletes, they still put a lot of stress on the pelvic floor and I would not recommend them in pregnancy or early postpartum (this varies greatly woman to woman, but I definitely wouldn't suggest them until after 3 months postpartum, once a good foundation has been established and progressed back into impact).

**For more in-depth information and considerations on jumping during pregnancy and postpartum, check out THIS BLOG.**

If you experience any of the following symptoms (even if just a little bit), it may be time to make an adjustment, switch to another exercise, or consult with your OB, pelvic floor physical therapist or coach:

  • Coning or doming along the midline of the abdomen

  • 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)

  • Fatigue, exhaustion, or excessive soreness-this is likely a sign you need to back off a bit

  • Spotting or bleeding

Other things to be mindful of (as they may not be the most appropriate during pregnancy and postpartum):

  • Holding your breath

  • Working to complete failure/exhaustion

These are ways you can learn to “listen to your body”.

Remember that this won’t be forever, just for now and it can really help set you up long term!

As far as guidance around whether or not specific exercises are okay or how to adjust them, it will really be very individual and that is one way I help my clients navigate exercise during this chapter.

Making informed decisions about what is most appropriate for you and your body can help you maintain activity, without pain or symptoms, and help with recovery postpartum.

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!

Lastly, make it fun!! Enjoy the community atmosphere and if you don't feel like participating, don't!

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