The CrossFit Open 23.3 For The Pregnant & Postpartum Athlete
Here we go! We are at the final week of the CrossFit Open and here is the workout:
Starting with a 6-minute time cap, complete as many reps as possible of: 5 wall walks 50 double-unders 15 snatches (weight 1) 5 wall walks 50 double-unders 12 snatches (weight 2) *If completed before the 6-minute time cap, add 3 minutes to the time cap and complete:
20 strict handstand push-ups 50 double-unders 9 snatches (weight 3) *If completed before the 9-minute time cap, add 3 minutes to the time cap and complete: 20 strict handstand push-ups 50 double-unders 6 snatches (weight 4)
Before diving into strategies for 23.3, 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.
This workout has pretty 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:
12 min. AMRAP (moving for quality vs. quantity)
5 inchworms OR 20 alternating landmine presses
50 toe taps
12 alternating db snatches
Inchworms: From standing, walk hands out to the top of a push-up, lower, then walk feet up towards hands. Depending on what stage you are at, walking out to the top of a push-up (and doing the push-up) may not feel great, so you can try performing it with your legs wide (to make more room for belly), or inclined against a wall.
*Due to the high demand of wall walks and handstand push-ups, 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.
Landmine presses: If inchworms don't feel good (or you just want to), do these instead. Try exhaling as you push the bar up. Keep the ribs stacked over the hips and try not to flare the ribs up. Dumbbell presses and banded chest presses are other options here.
*Due to the high demand of handstand push-ups, they 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). Since your center of gravity shifts in pregnancy, it can be much more difficult to find balance, making it a riskier movement.
Toe taps: Use one or a couple of bumper plates as a target. Either tap quickly, tap-hop-pause, or controlled hopping taps. 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.**
Dumbbell snatch: Breathe! You can try exhaling as you pull the dumbbell up and inhaling on the way down to maintain a steady breathing pattern (if that feels good for you).
*Going overhead can put more pressure into the linea alba that is already vulnerable in this stage, so if you catch yourself flaring your rib cage up a lot and arching your back excessively as you go overhead or you are feeling any pulling through your abdomen, dumbbell high pulls or dumbbell cleans are other options.
*Although using a barbell 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!
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!