FITNESS

The Infamous Burpee

Here's what makes this a great exercise.

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By Lauren Weiss

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The burpee is an exercise that, for many, is a “love to hate type of exercise.” It requires a high level of exertion to perform it, beginners and pros alike often tout it for its difficulty, and it’s an exercise that most trainers have thrown into their client’s workouts. Despite its seeming unpopularity, burpees are a really great exercise to utilize when you’re looking for a movement that encompasses strength, power and endurance all in one. Check out these top reasons to learn to love the burpee and incorporate them more frequently into your workouts.

Burpees combine a plank, push up, and squat jump all into one movement, making them a great full body exercise. With these three movements, you effectively work all the major muscle groups in the body: the plank requires you to engage your core muscles, the push up adds an additional upper body challenge, and the squat jump requires you to utilize power from the glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves in order to perform the movement efficiently, making burpees one of the top “bang for your buck” type of exercises.

On top of the strength components, burpees are a great way to get your heart pumping. With each repetition, you’ll find yourself both on the ground and jumping up. The constant change in elevation with each repetition brings the heart rate up quickly, providing you with a workout that combines full body strength with conditioning and power.

Burpees are extremely versatile, and allow you to add in different variables in order to increase the strength and or conditioning portion of the burpee. Looking for something that will work your quads more? Try the frog burpee, in which you hop into a table top position instead of the plank. In this table top position, your hands are directly underneath your shoulders and your knees are directly underneath your hips, but your knees are hovering off the ground. This required you to rely more on your quad strength in this position. If you’re looking for a variation that has an additional cardio component to it, try the the burpee mountain climber. When in the plank position, alternate bringing each knee up toward the chest 4-6 times total before jumping the feet forward and bringing yourself up to a jumping or standing position. Adding in an additional movement-based component in the plank portion of the burpee will increase the heart rate even more quickly and provide a greater cardio challenge.

Due to the burpee’s efficiency of combining strength and conditioning, it’s easy to use the burpee as a stand alone exercise or in an interval-based workout. If you’re short on time, simply watch the clock - working the burpee in a tabata format (20 seconds of work with 10 second of rest, repeated eight times in a row) allows you the opportunity to get in a great workout in a short amount of time. If you have a little more time to spare, use the burpee as one of 4-5 different exercises with longer intervals (up to one minute of work at a time) with shorter rest periods to really feel the effects.

While burpees aren’t a favorite exercise for many people, they do offer athletes the opportunity to work the full body and get a great cardiovascular workout in with one movement. Try utilizing some of the different workout formats and burpee variations mentioned above to kick up the intensity of your next workout!

Lauren Weiss is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor based out of Long Beach, CA. She specializes in kettlebell training and unconventional workouts and has been working with both types of fitness for over a year. Lauren has her BOLT Kettlebell Sport Certification through the USA Kettlebell League and has expertise working with kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and several unconventional fitness tools. Lauren received her BA in Journalism and uses her writing expertise to craft thought-provoking articles about trending fitness, health & wellness topics. Follow Lauren on her websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

Main Photo Credit & Third Photo Credit: Syda Productions/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: JRP Studio/shutterstock.com