#WorkoutWednesday - Scaling Options

I've been told that my blog posts for scaling/modifications for the Open and Murph were very helpful. I wanted to find a way to continue to help athletes with scaling options- however what I'm posting is not the same as working with and being monitored by a coach educated on training pregnant & postpartum women. If you are a coach that works with this population, I highly encourage you to look into taking a course on training this specific population. I recommend Brianna Battles' course, as a healthcare provider, CrossFit coach and an athlete. If you're interested in her course, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Special thanks to my hubby, Bill Bacarella, owner & head coach of Light the Fire CrossFit, for allowing me to use his programming for this series of blog posts. You're the best babe!

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Warm up: Start practicing that piston breathing!

  • Side shuffling may be an issue for pregnant women with pubic symphysis dysfunction. If it is an issue, I would recommend using the bike instead.

  • Squats should be performed to a depth that is asymptomatic, and they are able to keep good alignment.

Couch Stretch:

  • I would not recommend performing this stretch once there is a "bump". This stretch can put additional stress/stretch on the abdominals, which is not needed! Modify to another stretch the athlete can perform comfortably and with no symptoms.

  • Postpartum this should be ok, but possibly very tight from hip flexors tightening during pregnancy. Go for a comfortable stretch, not aggressive!


  • Find a weight that is manageable to work for a majority of the 1 minute, with good form.

  • In pregnant women, the jerk may cause coning, if so modify to another pressing movement that has no symptoms.

  • For postpartum women, choose a weight that can be performed with good technique, keeping good alignment.

  • Exhale throughout the movement, including at lockout. Inhale the barbell down.

  • Coaches, emphasis should be on quality of movement, NOT quantity of reps or weight.


  • I do not recommend pregnant women perform double unders, and even go so far to recommend scaling singles as well. My preferred scaling is another monostructural (cardio) movement such as the bike or rower.

  • I also recommend that postpartum women should be cleared by a pelvic floor physical therapist prior to jumping rope. Once an athlete is cleared to jump rope, begin with practicing single, singles and build from there. I would have an athlete do this for 40 seconds, as that is the time given in the coaches notes, and then have them move on to the next movement.

  • Step ups to an appropriate height for pregnant women, if there is pubic pain/discomfort, simply scale to squats (use box/bench if needed).

  • Box jumps for pregnant women are an unnecessary risk in my opinion. Catching your foot, tripping, falling, etc. are all ways to not only hurt oneself but also endanger the baby.

  • Box jumps for postpartum women should only be performed if asymptomatic, and also ideally cleared by a pelvic floor physical therapist. Focus on landing softly, exhaling throughout the jump and landing.

  • Deadlifts should be performed at a weight that the athlete can go unbroken on, are asymptomatic and not feel the need to valsalva (hold breath). I would not recommend belts here at any stage of pregnancy or postpartum. Exhale on the pull, inhale down.

That's a wrap & overview of one day of CrossFit programming. Please note that CrossFit gyms program very differently, some with minimal to no specific strength training, less/more hands-on coaching. This post and it's contents are to be used for inspiration, and not specific instruction.

Coaches - 

When considering scaling an athlete, try to keep in the mind what functional movement is being performed. Is it a variation of the squat, hinge, pull, push, etc.? Try to maintain the integrity of the functional movement, while modifying it a level that is appropriate for your individual athletes. If you would like to learn more about coaching pregnant and postpartum athletes, please look into Brianna Battles' coaching course here. For questions regarding scaling/modifications for the injured athlete, please feel free to contact me and/or work directly with the athlete's healthcare provider.

***All pregnant and postpartum women should have their physician's approval to workout. If you don't, please do not workout. If you have any physician restrictions, to ignore them is placing you and your baby's health in jeopardy.

***I recommend all postpartum women get assessed by a pelvic floor physical therapist. Find one by you here. I also highly recommend finding a Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism coach by you to go over strategy with specific exercises, programming and recommendations. Find one here.

***At any sight of coning with any movement, stop. Stop if you begin experiencing "leaking", sensation of something "falling out" and/or anything that doesn't feel right. Take more breaks as needed, if it's due to fatigue. Focus on your breathing and movement strategy. If you continue to have symptoms, scale the movement more or stop the workout. If you haven't consulted with a healthcare provider and/or postpartum fitness specialist regarding your symptoms, please do.

If you have specific questions regarding this post, please comment below or contact via social media or email. I'm happy to help- but remember my advice is not accompanied with a hands-on assessment, which is the best way to make recommendations. If you are interested in meeting with me, please contact me. If you're interested in finding an appropriate healthcare provider/coach, please contact me and I will do my best to help you find one.