Burpees are one of the hardest exercises going. And they're probably not top of the list for expectant moms or for women trying to get in shape for pregnancy. But Sara Haley, a pre- and postnatal exercise specialist based in Santa Monica and creator of the "Expecting More" workout series for pregnant women, says she has a gentler version of burpees. She calls them "baby burpees," but you don't need to be pregnant to enjoy the benefits of this exercise. (Haley was five months pregnant at the time of this photo shoot. She has since given birth to a boy.)
What it does
A full-body exercise that raises the heart rate and builds a foundation (and confidence) for doing traditional burpees. "This is a great way to work up to one," Haley said.
What to do
Stand 2 or 3 feet away from the side of a sturdy chair placed on a mat or carpet — someplace where the chair won't slide away from you. Beginners should approach the chair, squat down using the seat of the chair for balance and then return to the starting position. Repeat, breathing fully throughout the exercise but taking care to never push yourself so hard that you're out of breath. (This movement mimics the first step in doing a full-fledged burpee.)
After a few repetitions of those, work on the second half of the traditional burpee movement. Use the seat of the chair for balance as you step your feet behind you, creating a plank position. (The wider apart your feet, the easier it will be.) Then, walk your feet back in and return to standing. Take turns leading with your right foot and then with your left foot, so you strengthen both sides.
Advanced exercisers can begin to put the two movements together for a burpee that uses the chair. You can pick up the intensity by using the chair for support and jumping your feet back. Another option to advance the movement is taking the burpee to the floor but slowing down the sequence and walking (instead of jumping) through the lower-body movements.
Baby burpees are done by time instead of repetition. Haley suggests 30 seconds of movement, followed by 30 seconds of rest, with the goal being two rounds total. Do this two or three times a week. Haley stresses that there is no need to race the clock or push yourself past your comfort zone while performing this workout. Slowly but surely, you'll find yourself improving.