The name is quirky, unique and catchy: just like the burpee exercise itself. Is this a new exercise movement? Not exactly, the burpee has been around for several decades. It was created and popularized in 1939 by Royal H. Burpee with the intent of being administered as a simple and quick fitness test. Over the years, the burpee has evolved into an effective cardiovascular exercise involving most of the major muscle groups.
A burpee involves a squat, pushup, and an explosive jump all in one rep. According to physical fitness experts, 20 burpees are equivalent to 20 air squats, 20 jumping jacks, and 20 pushups. One single burpee encompasses a full range of body motion. This significantly increases the heart rate, which enables the heart to efficiently pump more blood around your body. Needless to say, the burpee requires stamina and commitment.
So, What’s The Move?
Burpees come in all kinds of variations. As a beginner, you should focus on mastering the most basic burpee steps (listed below) before you try your hand at the advanced burpee versions.
- Bend your knees and squat down.
- Place your hands on the floor in front of you
- Push both feet backwards with a jerk so that you are in the classic push-up position
- Complete the push-up, touching your chest to the floor.
- Push yourself back up into the position described in step 2
- In one smooth movement, jump up into the air and extend your arms over your head.
These 6 steps form one burpee rep. The burpee is essentially a combination of three exercises, so performing a whole set of burpees will require stamina, strength and determination.
Making it through The Burpee Workout
The following tips will help you to complete the workout successfully.
1. Pace Yourself
Stopping in between reps only makes it harder to keep going. Most people stop because they are going too fast and can’t maintain the pace. Keep in mind that if you are aiming for higher reps, slow and steady is the way to go. Pick a pace you can maintain and don’t stop. If you have to do fewer than 10 reps, you can go faster, but for anything more than 10 you should proceed slowly and consistently. If, however, you experience sharp bursts of pain or discomfort, stop at once. It is better to take a break than to risk injury.
When you decide on the number of burpees you want to complete, stop thinking about that number as soon as you start the workout. Think of it as going into robot mode. Go through each movement in a sequential fashion: “drop to the floor,” “feet back,” “jump up,” etc and repeat the instructions to yourself. After the completion of a rep you can make a mental note of how many you have done. Thinking ahead too much might make you feel tense about how many you have left to do.
3. Importance of Breathing
Try to get into a rhythm with your breathing. As you get more out of breath, your rhythm might change slightly, but try to keep your breathing as steady as possible.
4. Be Mindful of Common Faults
These faults can culminate into painful injuries, so keep a vigilant eye out for the following common errors:
- Make sure that when you are in push-up position that you don’t arch your back or lift your head upwards. This will lead to lower back pain.
- Don’t lose your range of motion. The chest should touch the floor, not just your stomach or pelvis. The hips need to open up all the way when you jump.
- Look straight ahead when you stand up and jump.
Ready, Get Set, Burpee!
The burpee is, no doubt, an intense workout. Studies show that the more intense the movement, the greater the post-workout elevation in metabolism and improved cardiovascular health. This exercise requires nothing more than your bodyweight and a little space. It engages multiple muscle groups and improves cardiovascular fitness. Of course, as is the case with all exercise routines, it is important to start slow and then work your way up to more reps each time. As always, stay healthy, stay happy and have fun with the burpee!