The name might be funny, but try a few burpees and you won’t be laughing! This punishing exercise is a real test of your fitness and you’ll find fitness enthusiasts swearing by them. So what is a burpee exercise and why are they so popular?
In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know, from what are burpees to what are they good for, and how you should be doing them.
What is a burpee exercise?
A burpee is a two-part exercise: a plank or a pushup followed by a jump squat. However over the years, the original form has been adapted to focus on different body parts or to make it even more challenging.
What makes a burpee stand out from other exercises is that it can deliver multiple benefits as well as a full body cardio and strength workout, without the use of any equipment. It also boosts stamina and helps you target large muscles for strength and explosive power. While it can be incredibly tiring, try it a few times and you’ll soon be extolling the benefits and telling everyone what is a burpee exercise.
What is a burpee exercise routine like?
A burpee routine mixes up variations of the original burpee. To understand what are burpees, you should watch a video or ask a personal trainer to demonstrate the right form.
To do a burpee correctly, follow these steps:
- Begin in a squat position
- Place palms on the floor, between your shoes/feet
- Shift your weight to your hands and jump your feet back so you are in a plank position
- Keep your core firm and your body straight and do a push-up
- Jump back to your squat position
- Stand up straight and raise your hands over your head
- Jump once and move back into a squat when you land
This video will help you understand the right form for your burpee:
Do at least 4 reps to begin with, but do make sure you maintain the right posture to get the most benefits and avoid injury.
Fast or slow – what is a burpee exercise recommendation?
If you ask someone to explain what are burpees, you’re sure to hear words like fast, pace, or quick when they tell you how a burpee should be done. This is one of the biggest myths surrounding burpees; that you should do a lot of them and you should do them fast.
When it comes to burpees, you should focus on quality rather than quality. Regardless of what system of exercise you follow, the form of the exercise and your posture during your exercise is of critical importance. This is more important than the number of reps.
In 2018, Aussie personal trainer Liz Llorente set the Guiness World Record for most burpees completed by a woman in an hour, hitting an incredible 1490 burpees. But you don’t need to go for speed or reps, especially as a beginner. When done slowly, burpees keep your muscles under tension for longer. This aids muscle growth and development by making them work harder, and after all, what are burpees for if not muscle strength and cardiovascular benefits?
What is a burpee exercise that beginners can do?
If you suffer from a preexisting medical condition, haven’t exercised in a long time or are simply new to burpees and find it challenging, try these variations instead:
- Skip the pushup and the jump
Start with a squat and jump backwards into plank. Return to squat position with a jump.
- Skip the jump
Do the squat, the plank and the pushup, but skip the jump.
- Skip the pushup
Start with a squat and jump backwards to plank. Hold the plank position for a few seconds and return to squat position.
There are many who think “What are burpees without the jump and the squat?” but it is far better to do a variation on the exercise rather than injure yourself doing something that you are not yet ready for.
Variations – What is a burpee variation for an advanced level?
If you have mastered the original burpee and are looking for a challenge, try these variations:
- Pushup Burpee: Instead of the plank in the original burpee, do a few extra pushups
- Crossfit-Style Burpee: Same as a pushup burpee, but at a faster speed and smooth transitions to offer you a higher intensity workout
- Burpee box jump: This requires a stable bench or a box that you use for a modified pushup. Finish the burpee jumping onto the box or the bench instead of leaping in the air
- Dumbbells burpees: Hold dumbbells or weight in each hand to add resistance to your burpee and build added muscular strength and endurance
- Bosu ball burpees: Do your pushup with your feet balanced on the ball instead of on the floor for a challenging core workout
What are the benefits of burpees?
Burpees offer immense health and fitness benefits when done regularly. Here are the top benefits of burpees:
- Help to burn calories and maintain healthy weight by consuming an average of 250 calories in 20 minutes
- Offer a full body calisthenic workout which build strength and endurance of muscles in both upper and lower body. It specifically targets your chest, legs, abs, hips, arms and shoulders
- Can boost stamina when used as a part of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) regimen
- Are a highly versatile exercise that can be done with no equipment and in smaller spaces for a convenient workout
Besides the exercise related benefits, burpees offer medical benefits like:
- Increase cardiovascular fitness by strengthening the heart and lungs
- Reduce the risk of heart ailments and diabetes
- Augment brain function
- Improve blood flow and help manage blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol levels
What are some precautions that I should be aware of?
As with any exercise, it is important to maintain the right posture while you perform burpees. What is a burpee exercise posture? Mind your lower back all the time. Your back is actively engaged during a burpee, especially your lower back. Keep a flat, strong back and an engaged core during your burpee exercise and don’t let your lower back sag.
When in doubt, seek the help of a trained and qualified trainer or a friend to help you understand the right form. This will not only prevent any injury but also ensure that you gain maximum training benefits.
Burpees can be hard on the joints if you have fragile knees or wrists. Do consult your doctor if you have any preexisting conditions.
Here’s an easy hack to becoming a burpee expert
Everyone struggles with burpees to begin with. Do not be discouraged if you struggle with managing burpees when you first start. Try with fewer reps and slower moves so that your body learns the right moves.
The strength of your body plays a big role in your ability to perform a burpee. Try these exercises on non-burpee days to help you build the muscles and strength you need:
- Do a few sets of planks, froggies, squat jumps and pushups once or twice a week as part of your exercise routine
- Add in a day or two of cardio to build stamina
- Engage in bodyweight training to build muscular strength and endurance
The right way to do burpees
Burpees are effective when done as a part of a warm-up or inculcated as a component of a circuit routine. Because they are a highly versatile exercise, they can also be part of a muscular strength workout or a cardio routine.
Here’s how to add burpees into your workout:
- The ideal rep range should be 10-20 burpees at a time, but you can start with 4-5 and work your way up
- Although they are a full body workout, you should mix them in with other exercises and not rely solely on burpees for a complete exercise routine
- Do a few right instead of doing many wrong ones. Break up the burpees into manageable sets of four or five each and take rest in between
- Do not rest for more than 30-45 seconds depending on your fitness levels
For someone who is new to exercising (and even for those who work out regularly but are trying burpees for the first time), this exercise can be downright exhausting. While you may struggle initially, remember that the challenge of doing a burpee is what will make you strong.
The sheer difficulty of a burpee is what makes it so effective in building cardiovascular fitness, strength and endurance. The idea behind any exercise is to take it slow, feel every move and put just the right amount of strain on your muscles. Engage the mind and the body and learn their connection.
It is best to consult a medical professional before you embark on a new exercise plan especially if you have a preexisting medical condition. Once you receive the go-ahead, you can consult a personal trainer to execute flawless and effective burpees.