Bodyweight training exercises will never fail to surprise you with another challenging variation. Even if you master the usual Plank, Push-up, or Chin-up, you’ll always discover the next big hurdle you need to jump over. For example, burpees! Although it sounds funny, it is an incredibly challenging workout that can activate most major muscle groups in your body.
The modern burpee originally called “squat thrust”, dates back to World War II. People in the military use it as a means to determine the fitness level of their troops. If you’ve ever seen burpees performed in a fitness class or had a personal encounter with them, you know how grueling the movement is, even if you’re not using any weights.
Thankfully, it’s not just hard work since the benefits of doing burpees are just as potent! So, if you want to know more about the ins and outs of this sweat-inducing training, here’s a complete guide!
This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:
- How To Do Burpees
- Burpees Benefits
- Common Burpees Mistakes To Avoid
- Burpees Muscles Worked
- Burpees vs Squat Thrusts
- Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, & Programs
- Burpees Variations
- Burpees Alternative Exercises
- FAQs About Burpees
How To Do Burpees
What You’ll Need:
- Bodyweight – Aside from your bodyweight, you don’t need anything else to do a standard burpee.
- Plyometric Box – You’ll need a taller or a shorter box, depending on your fitness level.
- Weighted Vest – With this, you can make a regular burpee more challenging by adding resistance.
- Barbell – Use an appropriate weight that will enable you to perform thrusters.
Step 1: Squat Down Into a Plank
Ensure that you’re executing burpees on a flat and stable surface. Contrary to the claims, intentionally working out in unstable areas or with an apparatus designed to challenge your balance may not enhance stability and muscle control.
From a standing position, go down into a deep Squat position. As you go low enough, put your arms in front of you. When you have stable contact with the ground, kick your legs out so you’ll be in a straight-arm plank or pushup position.
Before you dive into this workout, you need to warm up first to increase your blood circulation and raise your core temperature. Although burpees are bodyweight training and an unloaded exercise, they can still be dangerous for you if you jump into them without preparing your body.
Step 2: Do a Pushup
From the straight-arm plank stance, breathe in, brace your core and bring your torso down to the floor like you would when performing a regular pushup. When you do multiple burpees in fast successions, it can be enticing to let your lower back flop as you get into the bottom of the pushup. Watch out for the rigidity of your spine throughout the movement.
Step 3: Push your Body Up, Jump and Drive
As you push your body off the floor, jump your legs underneath your body and release your grip. When you’re back to the initial crouching position, drive upwards using your legs and do a small vertical jump in one fluid movement. Go back to the starting position and repeat. Do more reps as you see fit.
You don’t need to jump as high as you can. This exercise is not a vertical power evaluation, and recovering from several rapid high jumps can place undue stress on your joints.
3 Burpees Benefits
Targets Major Muscle Groups
Performing push-ups is ideal for pumping your chest, and air squats are a staple in many group classes and CrossFit. When you combine these two multi-joint exercises plus a ballistic element (resulting in burpees), it can help you activate almost all the major muscle groups in one go!
Excellent Cardio Workout
Burpees are a simple and equipment-free exercise that you can customize to suit your needs. It’s a great cardio option that you can easily squeeze into your routine. If you want to use this exercise as a warm-up, do it slowly until you’re all heated up to move to your main sets.
On the other hand, if you want to have a good sweat while you’re on a short break, doing burpees at timed intervals will make your sweat glands work overtime! The convenience of switching up or down the difficulty of burpees makes it stand out from other bodyweight workouts.
Suitable Anywhere in Your Workout Routine
You can alter the burpees to be the centerpiece of your training plan or a modifier to other exercises. It’s customary to see burpees as part of heavier movements in CrossFit WODs as a gruesomely effective way of amping up the intensity. As long as you don’t overexert yourself, you can perform burpees before, after, or in between other exercises.
Burpees can help you burn calories at a rapid pace. When performed at a high-intensity level, this exercise can make a 155-pound person lose 250 calories by going non-stop for twenty minutes.
Common Burpee Mistakes to Avoid
Skipping Some Steps
When you start to feel fatigued, it is a common reaction to want to skip specific steps to make the burpees more manageable. You don’t need to criticize yourself since everyone has the same experience. However, you should know that you’re only cheating yourself when you’re not doing the correct form.
Using the proper level of intensity throughout the movement ensures that you reap the muscle boosting and heart-healthy cardio benefits. If you’re already having a hard time moving, rest for a while before going again.
Not Contracting Your Core
The plank position of the burpees is necessary to guarantee that your abdominals can get adequate stimulation. Make sure that your shoulder is in line with your wrist and keep your core activated and contracted. Also, maintain a straight back that’s naturally lined with your glutes.
Many people make the mistake of arching their back, nullifying the positive effects of the burpees while increasing their risk for injuries.
Doing High Volume Reps
Similar to other exercises, increasing the volume of your reps does not always correspond to an effective workout. Concentrate on nailing the proper technique to help you progress smoothly and keep your heart rate up.
Burpees Muscles Worked
This calisthenic workout can engage the majority of your lower and upper body muscles, particularly:
- Lower Abs
- Hip Flexors
- Rectus Abdominis
While no one workout can engage all the muscles in your body at once, the burpees come close. As it’s a bodyweight exercise, it can help you simulate your core effectively if you do it correctly. Also, you can activate your shoulders, chest, and biceps because of the pushup segment, which can build strength and hypertrophy in your muscles.
In addition, with the dynamic power output necessary to launch yourself from a low squat position, your hamstrings, glutes, and quads will indeed get fried! Plus, you also keep your heart healthy since this workout gives you a combination of aerobics and resistance training.
Burpees vs Squat Thrust
Most of the time, people mislabel the burpees and squat thrusts and use them interchangeably. While they’re not the same exercise, they’re variations of the same workout. Both movements incorporate strength and aerobics training in one sequence, activating your legs, upper body, and cardiovascular system.
However, burpees are more advanced with a plyometric motion that the squat thrusts don’t. It’s better for beginners to do the squat thrust as it can be a stepping stone to successfully doing a standard burpee in proper form.
Both exercises have similar requirements when it comes to technique, but burpees have a jump at the end of the movement. Also, performing burpees can be more challenging because the jump increases the leg power needed and the cardiovascular challenge.
Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
For Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight or stay in shape, eschew portions of the movement or moderate your rest intervals to ensure that you’re not overworking yourself. Execute three to four sets of burpees twice a week without a repetition target or timed interval. Your body will let you know when you’re near your limit, so guarantee that you’re listening. You can also go for the jump squat and return to a standing position to lessen the stress on your joints.
For CrossFit Training
If you’re doing CrossFit, burpees may be a staple in your class or individual WODs. However, if you’re designing your own programming, it’s ideal that you not make this workout into something that it’s not. Burpees work well as a finisher in a prescribed AMRAP style under a time cap.
This exercise also fits nicely into a cluster or superset directly following a heavy workout with a low cardio demand like close-grip bench or back squats. However, assure that you modulate your effort on the lifting to account for the excess energy you’ll use to execute burpees.
For Power and Strength Building
To build power and strength, do three to five sets at a moderate interval (thirty seconds on, thirty seconds off) two to three times per week before you leave the gym.
Whether you’re looking for ways to make the burpee easier or harder, these variations can help you achieve your goal.
Box Jump Burpee
The quickest way to increase the challenge of a burpee is by Jumping Onto A Box instead of upwards into the air. When you add a minimum threshold to the squat jump, you will not only increase the difficulty but also employ plyo work which can improve your muscular strength, coordination, and speed.
If you want to really push yourself, adding dumbbells can instantly increase the difficulty of the burpee. With the added resistance, you’ll become slower as you perform the range of motion, taking your muscles at a higher degree at a quick pace.
There’s no shame in bringing the difficulty level down if you’re new to HIIT workout or the burpee. You can scale down this exercise by removing the vertical jump at the top of the movement and just standing up from the squat position. By doing this, the stress on your knees and hips will lessen but still help increase your leg musculature.
You can achieve the same effect if you omit the pushup portion instead of the vertical jump to spare your upper body. Simply squat down, then proceed to a straight arm plank position.
For a more straightforward way to amp up the difficulty level of burpees without using any equipment or adding an extra movement, try doing the exercise with one leg.
This will boost the core control necessary to prevent you from toppling over to one side, as well as jacking up the benefits to your leg muscles that are working to compensate for the absence of support from your other leg. You can choose to alternate or stick with one leg and only swap when you complete a set.
Burpee Pull Up
Feeling dizzy with the combination of the burpee and pull-up? Although you might dislike this combo, putting these two single best bodyweight exercises together into one super move can create something special! Do a regular burpee, then as you jump, grab the Pull-up Bar with an overhand grip and perform a pull-up. Go down under control until your arms are fully extended, then let go and move into the next rep.
Try doing these alternatives if you’re looking for other exercises to include in your cardio and strength workout. Although some may have an entirely different movement pattern, the benefits that you’ll reap will be the same.
A single movement that can activate both your lower and upper body is appealing. However, some people want to avoid doing cardio at all costs. If you want to have a full-body exercise that won’t leave you out of breath, try doing thrusters. The barbell thrusters engage almost the same muscle groups as burpees while also being loadable, so they can help beef up your muscles.
At first look, the sledge push may not be a sufficient alternative to the burpee. Although it’s not that convenient, a good round of sledge pushing can provide almost the same benefits as burpees, especially full-body muscle training. Your legs and shoulders work hand in hand to drive the resistance, and you can do this alternative with a time cap for maximum endurance.
Do kettlebell swings if you don’t want to jump around while doing your sets. It targets your glutes, thighs, core, and upper body muscles while increasing your heart rate.
Medicine Ball Slams
You can perform Medicine Ball Slams in the gym or at home as long as you have a medicine ball. This powerful workout also engages similar muscle groups with the burpee while eliminating the impact and jumping.
Everyone knows a classic jumping jack. However, did you also know that it’s an excellent alternative to burpees? This exercise is an explosive plyometric movement that will work your heart and lungs as it breaks down calories.
This alternative is an excellent move for your entire core area. Mountain climbers can also act as a plyometric movement to build explosive hip motion while also melting down calories. Here, you don’t need any equipment, but you can use an exercise mat to make you feel more comfortable.