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The 30-Day Burpee Challenge That Will Totally Kick Your Butt

Ah, the burpee. You either love them or you love to hate them, and most people fall into that latter camp. Not only are they polarizing amongst exercisers—if you've ever been in a class setting when the instructor calls out a burpee AMRAP finisher, you know ~exactly~ what we're talking about—but they are also the topic of consistent debate amongst trainers and coaches. (This isn't the only fitness controversy that's alive and well as evidence of Jillian Michaels "take down" of CrossFit's kipping pull-ups and Fittest Man In History Rich Froning's pro-CrossFit rebuttal.)

For instance, celebrity trainer Ben Bruno is definitely anti-burpee. He's ranted about his strong feeling about the move on social media again and again, saying the burpee is an advanced move that should never be attempted by beginners (looking at you, group fitness!) as most people don't have the necessary strength and mobility to perform it correctly in order to avoid injury. While the risk of injury is one of Bruno's biggest gripes about the exercise, he mostly takes offense to, in his opinion, it's lack of functional requirement. He questions whether there's any movement pattern in everyday life that burpees can help strengthen. 

But before you go writing off burpees altogether and pointing to Bruno every time your trainer tells you to bust some out on the gym floor, know that not all fitness experts believe what he does about the burpee. Jen Widerstrom, Shape's consulting fitness director and former-coach on The Biggest Loser is definitely pro-burpee. Widerstrom is so pro-burpee, in fact, that she created an entire 30-day challenge around them!

"The burpee is one of my favorite full-body movements there is when it comes to kinesthetic awareness, basic strength, and cardiovascular output." Nodding to its benefits to functional training, she adds: "When done correctly it also develops your ability for level change and range of motion, both being critical for tons of other activities." Plus, unlike Bruno's gripe about burpee's not being beginner-friendly, Widerstrom says shes successfully used burpees as a building block for other movements and as a way to cultivate confidence within her clients, too. "With so many options of regressions and progressions, I see burpees keeping us all more mobile and more capable."

Do a burpee right, and you’ll strengthen your shoulders, your arms, your core, your glutes—basically, your whole body—in just one move. To make sure you actually do it correctly and  to help you nail your technique, we asked Widerstrom to demo a basic, foundational burpee. From there, you can take things to the next level with her seven burpee variations—one of which you’ll do each day of the week. The added challenge: Each week of this challenge, you’ll have to bump up your reps by 10.

Ready? It’s time to earn your burpee bragging rights. 

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30-Day Burpee Challenge

Nail the Basic Burpee

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, weight in heels, and arms at sides. Push hips back, bend knees, and lower into a squat to place hands directly in front of, and just inside, the feet. 
B. Shift weight onto hands and jump feet back to softly land on balls of the feet in a plank position, worming chest down to ground. 
C. Pressing off hands, lift chest and jump feet back up so they land just outside of hands.
D. Reach arms overhead and explosively jump up into the air. 
E. Land and immediately lower back into a squat. That’s one rep. 

Modification: Instead of jumping feet back, step back into plank position one foot at a time and step forward the same way, still positioning the feet outside of the hands.  

Mondays: Burpee Kick-Outs

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then squat down and place hands on the ground and jump feet back into a high plank.
B. Lift left leg and cross it under the body, lifting the right arm and bending it to tap the right shoulder. Keep leg hovering at least an inch off the ground. Extend the left leg back and place toes on the ground. Repeat on the other side. 
C. Pressing off hands, lift chest and jump feet back up so they land just outside of hands.
D. Standing up, reach arms overhead and explosively jump up into the air. That’s one rep.

Modification: Tap/place your hip on the ground for just a moment as you kick your leg out. 

Tuesdays: One-Legged Burpees

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Lift up your right foot off the ground. Jump down into a one-legged plank, shoulders directly over hands, glutes squeezed, abs engaged, and worm chest down to ground. 
B. Pressing palms into the ground and still using only one leg, jump left foot up toward hands.
C. Standing up, reach arms overhead and explosively jump up into the air. That’s one rep.

Modification: Place your hands on an incline bench or something couch-height and complete the movement. 

Wednesdays: Burpee Broad Jumps

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and place hands on the ground, jumping legs back and worming chest down to ground. 
B. Pressing off hands, lift chest and jump feet back up so they land just outside of hands.
C. Sit back into a squat, swing the arms back, then explosively jump forward, using your arms for momentum, as far as you can. That’s one rep.

Modification: It's all about being comfortable with the distance you're jumping. A 3-inch hop is still OK!

Thursdays: Burpee Roll-Backs

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and place hands on the ground, jumping legs back and worming chest down to ground. 
B. Pressing off hands, lift chest and jump feet back up so they land just outside of hands. Standing up, reach arms overhead and explosively jump up into the air. 
C. Sit back into a squat and lower all the way down until butt touches the ground. Continue to roll back onto shoulders, then use the momentum to rock back up to standing in one fluid motion. Finish with another hop. That’s one rep.

Modification: Place your hands on the shins or even the back of the thighs. This allows a little bit more connection to your lower half and the ability to gain a little more momentum. Don't feel the need to roll all the way back in the beginning if it's too much. Have a mat or pillow behind you so you can feel it on your back and know your stopping point.

Fridays: Lateral Jump Burpees

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and place hands on the ground, jumping legs back and worming chest down to ground. 
B. Pressing off hands, lift chest and jump feet back up so they land just outside of hands.
C. Sit back into a squat, swing the arms back, then explosively jump to the left. Immediately perform another burpee then jump to the right. That’s one rep. 

Modification: Same as the Broad Jump Burpee; 3-inch hops can turn into 6-inch hops, which can turn in 3-foot jumps in time.

Saturdays: Burpee Mountain Climbers

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then squat down and place hands on the ground and jump feet back into a high plank.
B. Bring right knee to right elbow then left knee to left elbow. 
C. Pressing off hands, lift chest and jump feet back up so they land just outside of hands.
D. Standing up, reach arms overhead and explosively jump up into the air. That’s one rep.

Modification: Use an incline bench or something couch-height to take a little bit of the weight off your hands without disengaging your core.

Sundays: Spider Push-Up Burpees

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then squat down and place hands on the ground and jump feet back into a high plank.
B. Lift right leg and reach right knee to right elbow as you perform a push-up. Extend the right leg back and place toes on the ground. Repeat on the other side.
C. Pressing off hands, lift chest and jump feet back up so they land just outside of hands.
D. Standing up, reach arms overhead and explosively jump up into the air. That’s one rep.

Modification: As the right knee comes to the right elbow, place the left knee on the ground and then complete the push-up. Pull it the off the ground and return the right leg back to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. 


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