Burpees: The Ultimate Fitness Challenge

This exercise was primarily used by mixed martial artists, the military, and other hardcore exercise 512px-thumbnailgroups over many decades. Its inventor, Royal Huddleston Burpee, was an American psychologist who wanted to design a test for agility, coordination, and fitness. This workout has become a standard in Cross-Fit training. There are many variations of Burpee exercises for people of all fitness levels. Here is an explanation of how to perform the workout as outlined in Wikipedia.

  1. Begin in a standing position.
  2. Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)
  3. Kick your feet back, while keeping your arms extended. (count 2)
  4. Immediately return your feet to the squat position. (count 3)
  5. Jump up from the squat position (count 4)

Burpee exercises produce results because it combines a total aerobic and strength training workout rolled into one. Every muscle in your body is at work, including your heart. You will get a cardio workout without having to jog a single step. It is an effective calorie burning exercise. How many calories are burned depends on the number of reps performed and your current body weight.

Sidenote: In our combined history of living a health and fitness lifestyle, we have a responsibility in this article to share how to achieve your fitness goals in both the fastest and safest way possible.

For those who wish to pursue this exercise, always seek the advice of a physician who can take into account any past injuries and prior illnesses. Burpees can cause a significantly higher risk of injury if you are suffering from osteoporosis, arthritis or any type of joint or bone condition.

HMF Tips:

1. Always start with an aerobic regimen for improving endurance and muscle function before starting a program which places emphasis on any method of strength training. Please feel free to view our article on aerobic training by clicking here.

2.  Always check to make sure the instructor is trained for working with a beginner or an older adult. They should be able to ‘scale’ any program to make it safe and effective.

Safer variations of this exercise include:

* Stepping, rather than flinging the feet back to reduce pressure on the back and knees.
* Starting with hands on a deck or platform. This reduces the range of motion required.

For starters, do 1-4 burpees on your first day. You can do a simplified version as described above if you would like. On the next day, repeat. On days three and four, do 5-10 reps. Increase the number of burpees you do by 1 the day after. With time and practice, these movements will become easier to do.


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Photo: Courtesy of: SPC Nathan Franco [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons