Use this step-by-step guide to learn how to do a burpee in good form to get the most body-strengthening results.
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Burpees have a reputation for a reason. They're one of the most effective and challenging exercises out there, and they're sure to elicit groans from fitness newbies and pros alike. But what exactly is a burpee and how do you do one? There are different variations, but they all follow a similar pattern — and having proper form is key to getting all those muscle-strengthening benefits.

The burpee is essentially a combination of a squat thrust and a squat jump — and sometimes, a push-up. Some fitness pros coach burpees with a push-up or a cue to drop your body all the way to the ground, whereas other trainers coach burpees with just a jump back to a plank.

Regardless of exactly how you do a burpee, the exercise turns your body into the best piece of workout equipment ever. It trains virtually every muscle in your body — including your shoulders, chest, abs, quads, inner thighs, butt, and triceps. Plus, it sends your heart rate through the roof for awesome muscle-building benefits, according to Mike Donavanik, C.S.C.S., NSCA-certified personal trainer. (Related: The 30-Day Burpee Challenge That Will Totally Kick Your Butt)

But to get the most from every rep, you need to know not just how to do a burpee, but how to do a proper burpee with the correct form. Follow these step-by-step tips on how to master the burpee exercise, according to Donavanik.

How to Do a Burpee

A. Stand with feet shoulders-width apart, weight in heels, arms at sides.

B. Push hips back, bend knees, and lower body into a squat.

C. Place hands on the floor directly in front of and just inside feet. Shift weight onto hands.

D. Jump feet back to softly land on balls of feet in a plank position. Body should form a straight line from head to heels. Be careful not to let back sag or butt stick up in the air, as both can prevent effective core activation.

E. Optional: Lower into a push-up or lower body all the way onto the floor, keeping core engaged. Push up to lift body off of the floor and return to plank position. (Form tip: Avoid "snaking" body off the ground by lifting chest first and leaving hips on the ground when raising body back up off the floor.)

F. Jump feet back so they land just outside hands.

G. Reach arms overhead and explosively jump into the air. Land and immediately lower back into a squat for next rep.

How to Make Burpees Easier or Harder

There's no avoiding the truth: Burpees are brutal. Luckily, this move is super versatile and can be tailored to any fitness level, whether you're working your way up to cranking through an entire burpee workout or baby-stepping your way toward doing a proper burpee.

How to Make a Burpee Easier

  • Don't lower your body to the ground during the plank portion.
  • Move into a plank position by stepping, rather than jumping, your feet behind you.
  • Remove the jump at the top; simply stand and reach arms overhead, rising onto toes.

How to Make a Burpee Harder

  • Add a push-up or donkey kick to the plank position.
  • Add a knee tuck to the jump at the top.
  • Perform the entire burpee on just one leg (then switch sides and repeat on the opposite leg).
  • Add weight (see: the rotating iron burpee).