You may avoid burpees at all costs because let's be real, they're hard AF. But skip out on this super move and you'll miss all of the muscle-making benefits of burpees (demonstrated here by NYC-based trainer Rachel Mariotti).
"What makes this movement so spectacular is that it's a full-body movement without having to incorporate weight or any external equipment," says Stephany Bolivar, CrossFit coach and personal trainer at ICE NYC. It's a truly a universal movement that you can do anywhere, she says. (Really. Just watch @KaisaFit do them anywhere and everywhere.)
Burpee Benefits and Variations
The burpee uses the same muscles you work during a push-up (like your core, chest, triceps, and forearms), but it also adds a plyometric element, increasing your heart rate and tapping your anaerobic system.
It's a great move for conditioning—no matter what your goals are—because it spikes your heart rate quickly and forces you to work on endurance and pacing. You'll want to work on performing burpees as fast as you can while maintaining good form but pace yourself so you don't burn out too quickly. (Try our 30-Day Burpee Challenge with Jen Widerstrom if you need a burpee-mastering plan.)
You can easily modify this move to be low-impact by stepping your feet back (instead of jumping) while descending and stepping your feet in when ascending. If you have pain in your shoulder or lower back, try limiting the distance that you travel down to the ground, suggests Bolivar. "I have clients go to a box or bench but then have them perform a push-up from the angle."
And if regular burpees aren't enough of a challenge, try performing this movement with just one leg, then switch sides and do on the opposite leg. (Warning: It's way harder than it sounds!)
How to Do a Burpee
A. From standing, drop both hands down to the ground and jump feet back simultaneously.
B. Lower body until chest and quads touch the ground, then immediately push body back up to a plank position and jump feet toward hands.
C. Stand up, fully extending hips and jump with arms overhead. Land softly, and immediately reach hands to the ground to begin the next rep.
Do 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 25 reps.
Burpee Form Tips
- Avoid "snaking" the body off the ground (lifting the chest first and leaving the hips on the ground when raising body back up off the floor).