TUFF Mom Whiteboard:Hero WOD Murph

Strategies for the Pregnant & Postpartum Athlete- Hero WOD Murph

Strategies for the Pregnant & Postpartum Athlete- Hero WOD Murph

Memorial Day has many of us preparing for Hero WOD “Murph”- a WOD done in memory of Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, killed in action 6/28/2005 while serving in Afghanistan.

Memorial Day is a time to honor those that have given the ultimate sacrifice. It’s been my experience that when it comes to this WOD that we tend to push through our discomfort. We work through the twinges and push through to another level. It’s our way of honoring these heroes and one of the reasons I seriously love performing these workouts and our CrossFit community.

Pushing through is a part of this right?

Murph as prescribed.

Murph as prescribed.

I say it depends.

Are you pregnant, postpartum, have diastasis, pelvic floor dysfunctions, injured, not quite ready for the high volume demand?

This is a high volume workout that for many will take 50+ minutes to complete.

Should you push through? Do you know signs and symptoms to be aware of? Do you have pain, leaking, coning/doming, pressure or heaviness in your PF? Have you trained to meet the threshold demands? Do you have strategies in place that support you where you are? What is the risk vs. reward of performing this workout?

You get to make that choice but here are some thoughts:

It’s ok:

  • if you modify the movement, rep scheme, time domain, etc.

  • to row, bike, walk a mile, 1/2 mile, 1/4 mile

  • to do ring rows, inverted rows, banded pressdowns, toe assisted pullups, etc.

  • to do pushups off a box, wall, or standing chest presses

  • to squat to a box or use rings for support

  • to break up reps however you need

  • to not perform the workout as written

  • to not compare yourself to the person next to you

  • to ask for help from one of your coaches to come check in on you

  • IT”S OK TO SIT THIS ONE OUT THIS YEAR and cheer on your friends and family

It’s HARD to do something different, I get it, but let’s not let our ego get carried away if we aren’t ready for it THIS year.

This is ONE workout, albeit an emotional one, that we need to consider risk vs. reward, especially during pregnancy and early postpartum.


Do you experience symptoms such as:

  • abdominal pulling,

  • dizziness (stop the movement altogether to rest)

  • coning,

  • leaking

  • pelvic pain or bulging like a tampon falling out?

If you experience these symptoms stop the movement, reset, and adjust with a different strategy that could include:

  • Breathing (try exhale on exertion)

  • Position (try to find a neutral position like ribs stacked over hips)

  • Tension (are you gripping and squeezing your abs, glutes, back, jaw too much?)

  • Movement (adjust the range of motion, stance, etc.)

  • Load/Volume/Distance

Additional considerations:

  • Are you holding your breath & gripping your abs?

  • Is there a benefit to the movement & will it help your recovery?

  • Do you fatigue and lose control at a certain rep volume? Time domain?

  • Have you gotten enough sleep?

  • Is it hot?

Be prepared to adjust and adapt to meet yourself where you are. Give yourself some much needed grace and know that this is only one workout- “it’s not forever just for now” as Physiotherapist Antony Lo says.

If you choose to workout with your community, please see the attached pictures for reference on my thoughts for movement modifications, rep schemes, and strategy.

Small sets, focused on breathing strategy, being aware of symptoms and moving for function! Check out some of my videos on Instagram for additional coaching and strategy tips!

Pullup Video

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A few days ago I hit 12 strict pull-ups which is a PR for me! ## Pull-ups have been a work in progress &19 months ago, when I first started working pull-ups again after baby 2, I could not do a strict unassisted pull-up. In addition, I was terrified of doing something wrong that would worsen my #diastasisrecti. I have used lots of various progressions and strategies to build my foundation & capacity for this type of work. Sometimes I still do have coning/tenting/doming of my linea alba- however I do not fear that like I used to. It’s information that I use to adjust position, strategy, volume, etc. Thanks to people like @brianna.battles @lisa.marie.ryan @erin.dinardo.trains @shenashville & @physiodetective who have helped guide me through this continued #postpartum chapter. ## I’m always asked how to get better at pull-ups & Here are a few of my favorite ways to progress! Remember this is not one size fits all & there are a million different movements that can help you get the desired outcome. I challenge you to implement something different that may hopefully be helpful in getting your pull-ups too! ☺️ ## 1. Seated (bench)banded lat pulldowns 2. Seated (floor) banded lat pulldowns 3. Ring rows- varying heights 4. Feet/Toe assisted pull-ups with a barbell (loved learning this from my cert with @cfgymnastics !) 5. Toe assisted off a box- focus on a negative lower here- control! 6. Scapular pull-ups to help with the initial engagement of the pull-up 7. The banded pull-up: I save this last because this is the most common method used to assist pull-ups. Focus on the negative controlling your body back to the start position. You do the work- not the band. ## The lat pulldowns, ring rows, & toe assisted pull-ups from the ground were all great places for ME to start developing strength and strategy! ## I love many of these also working with pregnant and postpartum athletes where hanging from the bar doesn’t feel good or support us during this season of athleticism. Try something different & see what works- #adjustandadapt @pregnant.postpartum.athlete #pregnancyandpostpartumathleticism #tulafit #crossfitmom #fitmom #fitmomsofig #crossfit #ppacoach

A post shared by Kate Johnson, CFL1, P&PA Coach (@coach_mama_katejohnson) on


Inverted Rows, Pushups, Squats

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#whiteboardwednesday I love Cindy! There are so many great ways we can adapt this programming to meet us where we are as a #pregnantandpostpartumathlete My LIVE video has a TON of info you can check out (except for the static pallof hold- someone didn’t charge their battery & it cut out 😬🤷‍♀️) These are only recommendations & there are a million different ways to add movement that supports you during this temporary season of your fitness! Today I’m programming for one of my athletes who is 13 weeks pregnant, has started noticing abdominal pulling & coning on pullups & pushups. Together we talk about the goal for her as athlete, we try strategy that supports her individual needs, & we adapt. This can still be a great workout with intensity but in a way that supports her right now. (Please also remember the talk test while working out pregnant!) Cindy Ladder 1. Inverted Rows- adding more support & less tension/stress on the abdomen by using legs 2. Pushups- bring that ground up to you! Or one of my favorites use a band for a standing chest press! 3. Box squats! If you notice hip, round ligament, SI pain, etc watch how you squat. If you notice your tailbone tucking under aka the butt wink- try reducing range of motion to keep glutes from tucking under. A box is a great way to accomplish this! * always quality over quantity and intention over intensity. Don’t be afraid to adapt, adjust, & continue to assess & ask for help from your coaches. Optional Tabata: This was an intense core workout! We can still do core work while pregnant- the possibilities are endless! Think of ways to add functional, intentional movement that allows you to practice strategy. 1. Banded rotation - not high volume, may not always feel comfortable for pregnant athletes, so reduce ROM, volume as needed! 2. SA front rack carry: great core movement for developing stability, glute engagement,grip- all things we need #postpartum 3. Static pallof press hold- I’m posting a blog on planks soon! Stay tuned! 4. Wall sit-great way to practice breathing! 5. Bent knee side plank 6. Hip thrusts for the win!🍑 Let me know if you have questions or send a DM For help! #tulafit #crossfitmom

A post shared by Kate Johnson, CFL1, P&PA Coach (@coach_mama_katejohnson) on

Final Thoughts

Please tell your coaches your strategy so they are aware and can support you.

If you’re pregnant, you should be able to hold a conversation while working out. Here is a link to the ACOG perceived rate of exertion chart.

We can still honor Murph and our heroes through the WOD while still honoring where we are within our own athletic process.

Happy Memorial Day! God bless and thank you to those that have given their lives to serve and protect us!


This is the first year I’ll be doing the workout RX in almost 4 years. I am so excited and more than anything SO READY. I have taken a slow is fast approach and have increased volume in these movements progressing my ability to handle the demands these movements impose for core stability, strength, and coordination.

Why now?

3 years ago I was newly pregnant and traveling.

2 years ago I had thankfully found Brianna Battles and had started my Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coaches certification. I figured out that the risk vs. reward of completing the WOD at 5 moths post C-section was not something I was ready for.

1 year ago I completed Murph alternating between RX movements and modifications. I was just adding volume to pushups and pullups after rehabbing my Diastasis Recti. Sure- I could have done this workout as RX but it was not worth the risk of setting myself back at that moment in time. There is no room for ego in this chapter of our athleticism.

Run 1 mile

20 Rounds of:

5 pushups off 20 inch box

5 pullups/inverted rows

5 pushups off 20 inch box

15 air squats

1 mile run

However you choose to perform the workout remember your why. Remember to play the long game to be able to keep doing the things you love well beyond today.

Happy Memorial Day!

- Kate