If you’re a Personal Trainer or Group Fitness Instructor it’s important to know what exercises are appropriate for any pregnant women who may attend your classes or contract your training services. In this blog, we are going to address the question: “Can you do burpees while pregnant?”.
Before we address the issue, there are a few things we need to start with:
- We strongly recommend you do not train pregnant women unless you have completed a pre and post natal certification
- You must properly pre-screen your pregnant client and they must have medical clearance to continue exercising.
- Every pregnancy is different and every woman is different. There are no ‘hard and fast’ rules; the following information should be viewed as ‘general guidelines’.
There are also many different scenarios that can be at work here and all should be treated accordingly. For example, a woman that has been training with you for months and has been performing burpees that entire time should be programmed differently from a woman who hasn’t been training recently and hasn’t been regularly performing burpees.
With all that in mind, let’s address the question – can you do burpees while pregnant?
How Safe are Burpees While Pregnant?
As mentioned above, we never want to completely rule out an exercise for everyone… but, there are some potential risks to performing burpees while pregnant.
Generally speaking, burpees are a demanding exercise, they take a considerable amount of balance and coordination and can place a lot of pressure on the core and pelvic floor muscles (especially the jumping in and out component at the bottom of the movement).
In normal circumstances, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if the woman is pregnant (or post natal, for that matter) this demand could be placing unnecessary risks on her body, especially when there are other (less demanding) ways to challenge the body without exerting unnecessary pressure on core and pelvic floor.
Additionally, doing a full-range burpee “chest to ground” can be difficult if not impossible especially during the third trimester, and not recommended due to the pressure on the baby bump.
I do want to stress here, we’re not saying that every pregnant woman should never do burpees. We’re simply outlining that there are potential risks to a pregnant woman doing burpees, so it would be prudent to consider some alternatives.
Alternatives to Burpees While Pregnant
There are two main alternatives to burpees while pregnant. The “squat and wall push up” and “walk out burpee”. Let’s address each of these options.
The Walk Out Burpee
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Most Personal Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors will know this burpee variation as a general regression for anyone unable to perform a proper burpee. Burpees are a difficult exercise, and one of the hardest components to a burpee is jumping back and forward, down the bottom. The “Walk Out Burpee” reduces this demanding component to steps rather than jumps. This version also removes the push up and jump, part and parcel of a “full” burpee.
Even the walk-out burpee can be progressed and regressed, for example
- The advanced version of a walk out burpee would still involve the push up down the bottom and the jump up the top
- The less advanced version of a walk out burpee would not involve a push down the bottom or a jump up the top
- An intermediate walk out burpee may include either a push up down the bottom or a jump up the top
The Squat and Wall Push Up
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This is a great option for anyone who wants to perform a burpee but isn’t comfortable getting down to the ground. This isn’t an exclusive option specifically for pregnant women, it also works great for any client that isn’t comfortable getting down to the ground.
This option is pretty straight forward
- Step 1: Client performs a squat
- Step 2: Clients walks over to a wall and performs a wall push up
This exercise can also be progressed and regressed, the example listed above is a fairly regressed movement already, a more advanced variation of this exercise would involve a full range squat with a jump at the top, followed by a push up on a bench as opposed to a wall (the lower the bench, the more demanding the push up will be).
To answer the question, can you do burpees while pregnant? The answer is, as always, “it depends”. If you and your pregnant client choose to err on the side of caution, both the ‘walk out burpee’ and the ‘squat and wall push up’ are great options.
If this topic interests you, I would also recommend checking out the blogs below
Can Pregnant Women Still Participate in Bootcamp Workouts
Do’s and Don’ts When Working with Pregnant Clients
Either way, if you’re looking to train pregnant (or post natal) women, we strongly recommend taking a pre and post natal certification.