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Prenatal cardio: Calisthenics. Low impact but tons of results

By Published On: April 5th, 2012

Calisthenics is a form of strength training which uses your body weight as resistance, rather than dumbbells or barbells. It is a great way to lose body fat, build muscle, and become toned–and all without requiring a gym membership. But don’t let that fool you. Calisthenics can make for some legit workouts! By working to tone up your muscles, you can prepare your body for the extra weight it has to carry during pregnancy, as well as all the lifting, pushing, and carrying you will have to do once the baby is born.

There are numerous types of exercise moves which you can incorporate into a calisthenic workout. Some of them can be especially intense, while others require a minimum amount of movement. During your prenatal stage or even into your first trimester, you can tackle the more difficult moves or add extra sets into your workout. Once you hit your second trimester, though, you will need to adapt your exercises to suit your changing body. Even though you will need to make adaptations, you can continue calisthenics all the way into your third trimester.


are the best lower body calisthenics movement. They work your thighs and butt and strengthen your knees. They also help open your pelvic muscles to make for an easier delivery. With your bellybutton pulled in, your shoulders back, and your legs hip width apart, squat down until your legs are parallel to the floor. Push your butt back, as if you were sitting down in a chair. Return to starting position by pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes as you stand upright. Be sure to keep your knees from going over your toes.


Push ups

work an amazing amount of muscles in one move and bring quick results. They primarily target your chest, shoulders, back, and triceps, but they also hit your biceps, abs, and glutes. When doing a push up, keep your entire body in a straight line from your head to your toes. Lower yourself until your elbows are bent at 90 degrees. Tighten your abs and your glutes throughout the move. Make sure you are consciously focusing your movement on your upper body. Inhale on the way down, and exhale as you go up.

As you enter your second trimester, push ups on the ground are not wise. Instead, place your hands on a bench or stand up and place your hands on a wall. This eases the pressure on your body, as well as gives your belly room when you lower yourself.

Chin ups

will require you to have a chin up bar (or you can use the monkey bars at a local playground!). Chin ups work to build a strong back. This is essential for you as you will be carrying your baby around! Chin ups are easier than pull ups, as chin ups work your biceps more than the back. However, chin ups will still get great results.

Chin ups are performed with your palms facing towards you. Pull yourself up with your chest up, not your shoulders, and keep your elbows pulled down. Look up at the chin up bar and squeeze your glutes as you pull yourself up. You can make this move easier by putting one or both of your feet on the edge of a chair or having someone hold your ankles.

Calisthenics does not burn as many calories as other cardio moves do. At 150 pounds for 30 minutes of moderate calisthenics, you will burn approximately 155 calories. However, you can get your heart rate up if you move from one exercise to the next with short or no breaks. Plus you are building muscles, which not only makes you look good, but helps with your metabolism throughout the day and helps keep your body strong enough to handle raising a baby.

[Disclaimer: Read this introduction before you begin any exercise program.]

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