What is a Burpee & How to do Burpees with Proper Form
Burpees are one of the most effective full body exercises that you can literally do anywhere. Made popular by the legions of enthusiastic Crossfit athletes, this equipment free Crossfit exercise will test your strength and stamina. Sometimes call a squat thrust, a full burpee will push your body hard and leave you gasping for air when done with proper form. Ok, so how hard can these really be? Well... pretty hard. There is a reason that a common motto in the box and with my online personal training clients is "Buck Furpees". Most of us have a love hate relationship with this challenging exercise. Done alone, one or two burpees is really not a big deal. It is when you get into the volume of multiple burpees in a row that you will start really feeling this movement throughout your whole body. But what is a burpee?
A Burpee is a cardio vascular exercise that takes you through a series of movements in a rapid manner. You go from standing to squatting to a full push up before returning to a squat and jumping as high as you can with your arms extended over your head. Let me show you:
How to Burpee
- Begin standing with your legs shoulder width apart and arms at your side.
- As you squat down to the floor, place your hands on the floor right by your feet and jump your body back into a plank position.
- Lower your body in a quick, but controlled manner through a full push up allowing your chest to graze the floor lightly.
- Push back up to the top of the push up position. Be sure to keep your elbows tucked in tightly at your sides throughout this pushup portion burpees.
- Jump your feet up to bring you into a squat position with your hands still on the ground.
- In a strong, bounding movement, jump up and reach your hands over head. Keep your core tight throughout the jump and land lightly on your feet again.
- While this completes a single burpee with proper form, you can move straight from the jump extension to the ground squat to move to your next rep.
If you want a different take on the traditional burpee, check out the Burpee over Barbell.
For some, this movement will be too difficult whether cardiovascularly, because of an injury or with flexibility limitations. If you find that to be the case, there are several ways that you can modify a burpee. This will allow you to still get most of the benefit without straining or stressing your joints.
- Remove the pushup. If you find that the pushup portion is difficult on your wrists or you want to make the burpee a bit easier, go through the whole movement but instead of going down to bring your chest to the floor from the pushup position, just jump your feet back into the squat and move to the jump portion.
- Cut out the jump. If bounding places too much strain on your knees, go from the bottom squat position and stand instead of jumping up. I still encourage you to reach your arms over head as that movement helps keep the heart rate elevated.
- Step it up. Jumping back to the plank position or coming from that plank back to a squat might be challenging for some. If that is the case for you, step your feet back one at a time both coming into and from the middle of that burpee.
- Use padding. Since you are bounding and landing during the jumping portion and you are placing weight in your hands/wrists through the plank ... and of course you lower your body down to allow your chest to touch the floor, it is best to complete these on a floor with some padding. You might find a yoga mat or gym mat helpful cushion. Just be sure to use something that won't slip out from under you if you are doing multiples.
With some minor adjustments most anyone can preform a burpee safely and with good form!
Ready for an extreme Burpee Workout? Give the Burpee Mile a try...
If you are feeling really strong and want to do the most challenging Burpee Workout that I have ever seen you can give the Burpee Mile a try. This is really only for very advanced athlete and even then, plan to take breaks periodically as you need.
How to do the Burpee Mile (Burpee Broad Jump Mile):
Yes, this is just how it sounds. You complete one full mile of burpees but instead of a regular straight up jump, you bound forward with each movement in the longest broad jump you can. Completing these is best on a track where you know specifically how many laps equals a mile. For most high school or college tracks that would be 4 times around for 1600 meters. : complete one mile of burpees. Find a track, do a burpee followed by a broad jump. Repeat for four times around the track or 1600 meters.
How hard can this really be?
Well, the best athletes have to do more than 600 burpees to complete this mile. The longer your broad jump is, the less burpees you have to do so those taller athletes with long jumps have an advantage. For those women like me that are more vertically challenged, we will be closer to completing 800 burpees to make it all the way around. While you are not supposed to walk at all during this mile everyone has to stop briefly to catch their breath along the way. Even though this is a super hard physical workout, chances are by the time you complete the first lap around the track it will quickly become a test of mental fortitude knowing how hard that first lap was and that you still have so much more to go.
How long does it take?
A strong athlete can complete the burpee mile in about an hour and a half. You read that right, 90 mins of some of the hardest work of your life. The good news... if you are able to compete the whole thing, you are likely to have burned upwards of 1000 calories.