Burpees are fast-paced, dynamic and never boring. You don’t need any equipment and you can do them any time, anywhere. String together burpees in rapid succession and you’ll put your fitness, agility, coordination and strength to the test.
The muscles you work with burpees
Burpees are the ultimate full-body exercise! You work your triceps, chest, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and all the muscles of your core with each rep.
How to set up the perfect burpee
- Place your feet slightly wider than your hips
- Position your feet with toe angled 5-20 degrees outward
- Lift your chest
- Ensure your weight is distributed through the heels and balls of your feet
- Brace your core muscles.
- Squat down and keep your chest elevated
- Place your hands on the floor
- Brace your core and jump your feet back to a plank
- Jump your feet back in wide
- Jump tall and land with bent knees
Tailor the move to suit your ability
An alternative to doing the burpee is to try a few by just walking your legs back instead of jumping into plank. You can also take out the jump at the end.
To advance this move try and shoot your feet out even faster into the plank. However, it’s important that you have your technique right before you add speed.
Other ways to up the ante include adding a push-up during the plank phase of the movement, doing one-armed burpees (make sure you alternate arms), adding a tuck jump at the end of each burpee, or jumping laterally over a bench in between burpees.
Fun fact: The burpee is named after American physiologist Royal H. Burpee who created it in 1940 as part of his Ph.D. thesis as a quick and simple way to assess fitness.
Make sure you …
Don’t skip the squat movement. It’s important that you really focus on the squat component, as squatting reduces the stress on the lower back as you transition to the floor. Learn more about why you need to squat – not crouch – while you burpee here.
Jump safely. It’s important that you bend your legs a lot as you land, as this will help absorb the load and protect your knees.
Brace your core hard as you jump back into the plank – bracing your abdominals will help look after your lower back.
How to get better at burpees
Try 12 days of burpees. Start on day one by seeing how many burpees you can do in two minutes, and aim to add an extra burpee each day. On the final day, challenge yourself with the 2-minute burpee beep test.
The 2-minute burpee beep test is a great way to give your body a short, sharp cardio kick. Press play on the video and Ben Main will coach you through this tough challenge.
Alternatively you can simply play the soundtrack below and see if you can do a burpee every time you hear a beep – be warned, the beeps get quicker towards the end!
Up for the 100 burpee challenge? See how long it takes you to power through 100 burpees. If you can do it within 10 minutes you should feel pretty pleased with yourself. Do this 100 burpee challenge weekly and aim to knock off a little time each week.
Fun fact: Burpees first became popular when the US military began using them to test the fitness level of new recruits during World War II.
If you like the idea of smashing out sets of burpees to some motivating beats give LES MILLS GRIT a go. Burpees are also a regular feature in BODYATTACK and often BODYSTEP too. You can find a class or work out via LES MILLS On Demand.
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