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Pregnancy and Postpartum: Toes-to-Bar Progression

With pregnancy, many changes occur starting with one’s body, energy levels, and performance in the gym. As one progresses through pregnancy and the postpartum journey, fitness and training will start to taper like a U curve. This means that as an individual progresses, gradually it is important to start tapering in the gym to meet energy levels, physical ability, and comfort while continuing to work out. As we progress, this is not the time to chase PR’s or your highest performance, as the human body is already adapting a lot to the physical changes of pregnancy and growing a human.

However, this does not mean that we have to stop working on certain skills or that they are “out of bounds” just because you or a client became pregnant. Toes-to-bar is a common gymnastic skill that we see in crossfit that many will cease doing due to difficulties, discomfort, or concern of performing while pregnant. And, while it is entirely up to an athlete’s choice if they decide to cease or continue to stay on the rig, I am here to tell you that there are progressions that can be utilized to help continue to work on core strength during pregnancy and maintain that grip strength.

When deciding which progression to use, my rule of thumb is to start with a progression that addresses your concerns and allows you to continue to work on this skill without additional modifications or other symptoms occurring. We want to remember to stay around moderate intensity collectively for our workouts to accommodate for the additional physical changes faced during pregnancy, such as increased blood flow, increase in heart rate, and other changes that you can find in my last blog . So for example, if doing a full toes-to-bar results in pain, discomfort, or other symptoms, I might modify it down to wide hanging knee raises. When that becomes bothersome, I can switch to alternating leg raises.

As you or an athlete works through the following progressions throughout pregnancy to postpartum, selection should really focus on accommodating our client’s comfort level, addressing symptoms, and allowing them to work on the skills if they choose to without significant fatigue or other warning signs of overdoing the workout. When an individual returns to exercise during the postpartum journey, it is important to pick up where one left off vs. trying to just resume toes to bar. For example, if I left off lower-racked barbell toes-to-bar. The goal is to start where you left off prior to delivery and gradually progress back to your goals or where you want to be. This allows for safe progression to minimize risk of orthopedic injury or other complications and allow the body to adapt back to intensity, volume, and/or weight with the additional adjustments of being a new mom.

This blog focuses on progressions for toes-to-bar to help guide pregnant and postpartum athletes while they continue to work on this gymnastic skill, core strength, and grip safely. While these exercises were provided in a sequence, it’s important to factor in exercise and fitness levels, personal comfort with the movements, and physical tolerance to these modifications. The following modifications can be incorporated throughout pregnancy and utilized to return fully back to sport.

Body Armor EP 742: Pregnancy modifications for toes-to-bar part 1: Wide Hanging Knee Raises

Body Armor EP 743: Pregnancy modifications for toes-to-bar part 2: Alternating Leg Raises

Body Armor EP 744: Pregnancy modifications for toes-to-bar part 3: Alternating Strict Wide Hanging Knee Raise

Body Armor EP 745: Pregnancy modifications for toes-to-bar part 4: Box Supported Single Leg Toes-To-Bar

Body Armor EP 746: Pregnancy modifications for toes-to-bar part 5: Lower Racked Barbell Toes-To-Bar

Still unsure of what to do? Contact us for an assessment to help you learn customized modifications and keep you training. We use a 3 step process to help athletes feel better and move better, which includes:

1. Fixing your pain.

2. Figuring out the root cause.

3. Providing you the necessary tools to get back to being active and not dealing with this



Gingerich, J. & Prevett, C. (2023, April). CMFA: Pregnancy & postpartum [Powerpoint slide]. Institute of Clinical Excellence.

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