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The CrossFit Open 21.3 & 21.4 For The Pregnant & Postpartum Athlete

The CrossFit Open 21.3 & 21.4 for the Pregnant & Postpartum Athlete

Here we go! We are at the final week of the CrossFit Open and here is the two part workout:

For time:

15 front squats

30 toes-to-bars

15 thrusters

Then, rest 1 minute before continuing with:

15 front squats

30 chest-to-bar pull-ups

15 thrusters

Then, rest 1 minute before continuing with:

15 front squats

30 bar muscle-ups

15 thrusters

Time cap: 15 min.

Immediately after 21.3 (or hitting the time cap):

Complete the following complex for max load:

1 deadlift

1 clean

1 hang clean

1 jerk

Time cap: 7 min.

Before diving into strategies for 21.3 & 21.4, 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.

Now, on to the workout for pregnant and postpartum athletes. Couplets like this can be really fun (and easy to remember what’s next-ha!), but just because it’s simple, don’t underestimate it!

This is a bit of a longer workout with HIGH volume, so finding a pace that you can manage throughout the workout will be important. Remember that you can rest if you need it and try to maintain a good breathing strategy through the movements.

This is just ONE option on how you can adjust this workout to fit what you need:

15 min. AMRAP (moving for quality vs. quantity)

15 landmine front squats

15 kettlebell swings

15 landmine thrusters

15 landmine front squats

15 ring rows

15 landmine thrusters

15 landmine front squats

15 box dips

15 landmine thrusters

*rest as needed, then:

5 min. AMRAP (moving for quality)

Alternating 1-arm dumbbell deadlift + hang clean + press

*Perform a rep of each exercise on the right side, then a rep of each on the left side. Repeat for 5 minutes.

Landmine front squats: Breathe so you can maintain reps intentionally, without getting too winded. One option to try is exhaling as you come up out of the bottom of the squat (inhale down). Dumbbell front squats and goblet squats are other options here.

*Navigating a barbell in pregnancy can get a bit tricky-read THIS BLOG for more on barbell use in pregnancy.

Landmine thrusters: Same as above on the landmine front squats (if you like that breathing option, you can try it here too: inhale down, exhale up). Keep the ribs stacked over the hips and try not to flare the ribs up.

Kettlebell swings: Choose a weight that you can move through the reps well, without taking a lot of breaks.

*Even though you may still feel okay doing toes-to-bar, they put quite a bit of stress on your core and pelvic floor. Also, hanging knee raises are not necessarily an appropriate substitute here for the same reasons (the hanging from the bar in general can be a bit much for many as it can create a lot of pressure on the abdominal wall). For more on core work in pregnancy, check out THIS BLOG.

Ring row: Try to breathe as you row (vs. holding your breath).

*Even though you may still feel okay doing pull-ups, the kipping movement and hanging from the bar puts quite a bit of stress on already vulnerable tissue in pregnancy and postpartum. For more on pull-ups, read THIS BLOG.

Box dips: Walk the feet away from the box to increase the difficulty (while keeping the hips close to the box as you lower/raise) or bring them in closer if it’s too difficult or you experience any symptoms.

*Even though you may still feel okay doing bar muscle ups, the kipping movement, hanging from the bar, and complexity of them can create a lot of stress on the core and pelvic floor.

1-arm dumbbell deadlift + hang clean + press: Breathe! Try to stack the ribs over the hips and try not to flare the ribs up while overhead. Choose a weight that you can move well without losing good technique. By doing one dumbbell at a time, you don’t have to worry as much about trying to navigate around a baby bump.

I would not suggest maxing out (or getting close) during pregnancy and postpartum as the risks of injury and stress on your core and pelvic floor are not worth it.

*Although using a barbell or pvc pipe (like in the scaled version) may “feel” okay when pregnant, you have to move the bar around your growing belly resulting in a change to your bar path which is difficult to relearn later-read more about using a barbell in pregnancy HERE!

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!

How each exercise should be adjusted for each individual is going to vary greatly based on their experiences, and it’s one way I help my clients navigate exercise during this chapter.

Being intentional 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!

Remember that this is for fun!! Enjoy the community atmosphere and if you don't feel like participating, don't!


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