Get Fit FAST with This Burpee Exercise


When you are in the middle of a grueling and seemingly never-ending set of burpees, under the direction of a maniacal fitness guru, you may ask yourself, “Who in their right mind came up with this awful exercise?” It’s not often that a single exercise can elicit such a negative response from its practitioners, while still somehow managing to grow in popularity, but that’s what makes the burpee special.

The burpee exercise, once a physical punishment handed out to army cadets, is now locked into many HIIT style exercise regimes and plays a major role in most modern gym classes. But where did this grueling physical activity come from, and why has it proven, time and again, to be one of the most effective and time-tested exercises used today?

A Brief History of R. H. Burpee

We have a man named Royal H. Burpee to thank for the physical torment of the burpee. R.H. Burpee was a physiologist who worked for the YMCA in New York City in 1939. In those days, exercise science was primarily focused on testing the strengths of already strong athletes, but he wanted to test the fitness levels of everyday people. At this point in time, the burpee was a more simple creature, consisting of only 4 movements:

  • Squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you
  • Jump feet back into plank position
  • Jump back into squat position
  • Stand

He used the heart rate measurements taken before and after a series of four burpees to determine overall fitness. Over time this fitness test has evolved into many forms, both loved and hated by those who perform them. The newest and most common format for burpees exercise these days involves six moves, instead of the original four:

  • Squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you
  • Jump feet back into plank position
  • Perform a pushup
  • Jump back into squat position
  • Jump as high as possible from the squat position to stand again

The Serious Benefits of Burpees

Even if you have a good grasp of history, you could still be left gasping (no pun intended) as to why burpees continue to be so popular. Burpees are built to be extremely difficult and to get the heart racing and the blood pumping after only performing a few. Here are a few of the reasons why burpees continue to torment fitness classes almost 80 years after their creation and remain the ultimate full body workouts.

No Equipment Required

First and foremost, burpees can be performed anywhere – at home, at the gym, outside, inside, at the airport, or even in the office. All you need is your own body weight, a little bit of room to stretch out and some motivation. No equipment is required and no special technical know-how, thereby making burpees one of the easiest and most effective at-home exercises.

Fat Burning

If you are training to lose weight, burpees are perfect for burning fat. Because they get the entire body moving, and the heart pumping, they help melt off fat like no other exercise can. Studies have shown that high-intensity exercises (like burpees), can actually show a significant benefit over less intense workouts. In fact, they can increase weight loss by 50%. The research also supports high-intensity workouts for increasing the speed of your metabolism which subsequently supports fat burning.

Strength Building

Once you start counting off the muscle groups used during a burpee, it can get out of hand. Because it is a body weight exercise, it uses your own weight to create resistance, and through repetitions, builds strength and muscle mass. Some of the main groups that burpees focus on are the chest, abdominal, arms and shoulders, thighs and hamstrings. Plus, with a few interesting variations, burpees can easily target many more harder-to-hit areas.

Conditioning and Endurance

No matter how much muscle mass you can create through strength training exercises, muscle mass often does not translate well into endurance. However, a burpee is an excellent way to build up endurance through repetition, and while burpees are also powerful methods of strength training, they are also an intense way to work on conditioning at the same time.

A Little Burpee Variety

If you are tired of the standard six-point burpee, why not add some spice to your workout routine by trying something new? The number of burpee challenges and burpee variations out there on the internet is truly limitless. Here are a few challenging burpee workouts that will be sure to get the fitness results you are looking for:

Two Minute Burpee Drill

The name of the game is simple, how many burpees can you do in a two-minute time frame? Add a two-minute burpee challenge into your workout routine, and watch how quickly your number grows. Don’t get discouraged, burpees are meant to be exponentially difficult.

Burpee Ladder

This workout has you perform ever decreasing sets of burpees. For example, start with the maximum number of burpees you are able to perform without rest. If this number is 10, perform the 10 burpees, and then take a rest before doing another set of 9. Take a rest, and then perform 8. Repeat until you hit zero. Don’t worry if you can’t do 10 burpees in the beginning, just pick a number that works for you.

Burpee Ladder with Sprint

Just when you thought burpees were getting easier, try this final workout to really push your limits. Perform the burpee ladder workout listed above, but instead of resting, try sprinting for 50 yards. Even the fittest of the fit will have a hard time finishing without breaking a serious sweat.


Similar Posts