“Yay, Burpees!” That’s the typical reaction you get from CrossFit athletes when they see burpess show up in the daily WOD. The burpee is the one exercise that is both mocked and respected with the same level of intensity. But despite this “love hate” relationship that many have with the burpee, there is little doubt that it has become a fundamental movement for both CrossFit and Bootcamp. And for good reason – it works! It is extremely popular because of its undeniable effectiveness. In fact, it is without question one of the most efficient and functional full-body exercises you can do. At least in terms of exercises based on body-weight alone.
A Little Bit of History
Burpees were invented by a man named Royal H. Burpee, in the 1930s as a way to test the agility, strength and coordination. He would use the exercise to test new members of the YMCA where he worked. Burpees were later adopted by the US military as a measure of fitness. Completing 41 reps in 1-minute was considered excellent and fewer than 27 reps was considered poor. The original burpee was a 4-count exercise – squat down, jump to plank, jump feet forward, and stand-up. Today’s version of the standard burpee is a 6-count exercise, with the addition of a push-up and the explosive jump with overhead clap. In fact, today there are more than 20 established variations of the burpee – more on that in a bit…
5 Things That Make The Burpee Special
1. They are a full body workout.
Unlike isolation exercises like biceps curls and triceps kickbacks, burpees are a full body exercise. That means you’ll work pretty much every muscle in your body while doing them, so you’ll actually burn more calories in less time when you do burpees.
CrossFit Tip: Do them quickly with intensity and you’ll get an even bigger calorie burning effect that will last all day long!
2. No special equipment required.
Since burpees require nothing more than your own body to do them, you can seriously do them anywhere at anytime. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling, if you don’t have access to a box, or if you’re exercising outdoors — you can still do burpees!
3. They improve your overall fitness.
Burpees are the ultimate example of functional fitness, meaning they’ll not only help you meet your weight loss and fitness goals, they’ll also help you perform better during everyday activities like carrying groceries, lifting a suitcase over your head in an airplane or playing with your kid at the playground.
With every rep, you’ll work your arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles. After a few sets of burpees, your legs will feel a bit like lead, your arms will shake and you’ll feel your muscles getting stronger.
4. Burpees are versatile and can be added to any workout.
Burpee muscle-ups, burpee box jumps, burpee pull-ups, burpee toes-to-bar – the list goes on and on. There are many variations of burpees and you can add them to any workout or even warm up. In fact, the burpee is essentially three exercises – a squat, a pushup and a plyometric jump – all wrapped up nicely into a single blood-pumping, fat-burning package. Not only does the burpee get your blood flowing, but each burpee you do will probably burn around 1 – 1.5 calories (depending on your weight). To put that into perspective – jumping rope burns around 10 – 20 calories per minute.
CrossFit Tip: Do them consistently and watch as your conditioning level skyrocket!
5. They are great for weight loss.
Burpees are an intense full-body exercise that shoots your heart rate up, resulting in large caloric expenditure. In fact, burpees burn up to 50% more fat than conventional strength training, and better yet, they will increase your metabolism for the rest of the day, long after you’ve finished throwing up from them. If weight loss happens to be one of your goals, then you should be very happy the next time you see burpess show up in the WOD!
Want a Challenge?
Try working your way up to 100 burpees in a row – the ultimate burpee workout!
If you complete 100 burpees in:
- 12+ minutes: You’re an athlete in training! Way to work hard, and don’t stop pushing.
- 10-12 minutes: You’re an athlete! Awesome job getting past those mental blocks.
- 8-10 minutes: You’re a super athlete! You’re strong and in great conditioning shape.
- 6-8 minutes: You’re a total badass! You have some serious burpee skills.
- 4-6 minutes: You’re not only the ultimate badass, you’ll probably have a PS4 game with your picture on it very soon!
Did you know???
There are 20 different versions of the burpee, and one has been eloquently named the “Shitee”. Seriously – it really exists! You start in plank position, perform a push-up, then with hands maintaining position on the floor quickly bring feet forward so that the toes are even with the hands, then return to plank position. Enjoy!