Burpees inspire dread in many exercisers because they are a challenging full-body workout. On their own they can help you burn fat and build muscle, but they can also be part of an effective fitness routine. The mix of cardiovascular and strength-training exercise makes them a great option for busy people who want to be fit. In this article, we’ll brief you on everything burpee-related. If you’re a beginner, you’ll learn how to do a burpee correctly. If you’re seasoned, we’ll tell you how to make the move more challenging and effective. We’ll also cover the many benefits of burpees and how to incorporate them into your workout routine.
What Is A Burpee?
The name “burpee” derives from its inventor, Royal H. Burpee. He created it in 1939 for a research project at Columbia University, with the goal of measuring physical fitness.
Initially, the burpee was used as a fitness test to measure power, strength, and agility for recruits during WWII (16).
To be considered fit, a soldier had to be able to do a certain number of burpees within a set amount of time (usually 20 seconds). Today, it is used as a popular exercise in HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts.
A burpee is a full-body exercise that combines a squat, plank, and jump into one explosive movement. Consequently, it engages multiple muscle groups and requires multiple movements to complete (11).
Like any other exercise, if done incorrectly, it can result in injury. Make sure you understand the technique before attempting a burpee.
What Are The Benefits Of Burpees?
Not sure whether you should include burpees in your workout routine? Here are some of the benefits to consider:
Cardiovascular exercise refers to any activity that increases your heart rate and breathing. According to the American Heart Association, adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (such as jogging, biking or swimming) five days a week (15).
Why? Regular aerobic activity boosts your energy level, strengthens your heart and lungs, and wards off disease (6).
Burpees are a great way to get your heart rate up quickly and efficiently. Unlike steady state cardio (such as running or riding a bike), the boredom factor of burpees is low.
You’ll be constantly switching between a squat, plank and jump which requires your full attention. So if you’ve been struggling to get in your weekly cardio, burpees may be just what you need.
Burpees are an effective form of strength training since they work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Below are the primary muscle groups that are targeted in a burpee:
Your core consists of the abdominal, hip and lower back muscles. When you’re in the plank portion of a burpee, you’ll be engaging your core muscles to maintain balance and stability.
A strong core is essential for everyday activities such as sitting, standing, and lifting (8).
These are the four muscles at the front of your thighs. During a burpee, you’ll be using the quads to thrust off the ground during the jump portion.
Strengthening your quads through exercise is beneficial for everyday activities such as walking and climbing stairs. It’s also important for improving performance in sports that require running and jumping (2).
The hamstrings are located at the back of your thighs and help to extend your hips and flex your knees (1). During a burpee, you’ll be using the hamstrings to return your legs back to their starting position.
Strengthening your hamstrings is beneficial for activities such as walking, running, and jumping.
The calf muscles are located at the back of your lower legs and are responsible for pointing your toes and flexing your feet.
During a burpee, you’ll be using the calves to push off the ground and jump back up. Strong calves are essential for everyday activities such as walking, running, and standing.
Your shoulders are the most mobile joints in your body and they play an important role in everyday activities (4). During a burpee, you’ll be using your shoulders to support your bodyweight in the plank position.
Strengthening your shoulders through exercise can help improve posture, reduce risk of injury and improve sports performance.
Your chest muscles (pectorals) help to move your arms and support your shoulder joints (3). During a burpee, you’ll be using the chest to push your body back up into the starting position.
Strengthening your chest muscles through exercise is beneficial for activities such as pushing and pulling.
The triceps are located at the back of your upper arms and help to extend your elbows. During a burpee, you’ll be using the triceps to push your body up from the plank position. Strengthening your triceps is essential for activities such as lifting and carrying things.
Agility is the ability to change direction quickly and effectively. Burpees are a great way to build agility because they require you to use multiple muscle groups in quick succession (5). As you come out of the squat position, you must immediately switch to a plank.
When you jump up from the plank, you must then land in a squat ready for the next rep. This constant switching of movements will help to improve your agility, coordination and balance.
Improves Mental Focus
The physical aspects of a burpee are only one part of the puzzle. When performing burpees, it’s important to maintain focus and concentration throughout each rep. This focus allows you to make the most out of each movement and ensures that you’re performing the exercise correctly.
Over time, this increased mental focus can be transferred to other aspects of your fitness training and life in general.
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Fat loss is a goal for many people who exercise. And burpees are a great way to help you reach that goal. Burpees increase your calorie expenditure as it requires a lot of energy to perform them correctly (9).
In addition, the intense nature of burpees helps to stimulate the release of fat burning hormones such as adrenaline and growth hormone (9). This makes burpees an effective tool for fat loss when done in conjunction with a healthy diet.
Furthermore, by increasing your muscle mass, burpees can help to increase your metabolism which will result in even more fat loss (10).
Note that exactly how much fat you’ll lose from burpees depends on many factors such as how intensely you perform them and your diet. According to research, performing just 20 minutes of burpees may burn up to 200 calories.
Being able to exercise only when you have access to equipment can be a major limitation when it comes to fitness. But with burpees, you don’t need any equipment at all. This makes burpees the perfect exercise to do when you’re on the go or don’t have access to a gym.
All you need is a bit of space and your own bodyweight and you’re good to go.
How To Do A Burpee
The most basic form of a burpee involves these simple steps:
- Start in a standing position. Your knees should be slightly bent and your feet about shoulder width apart.
- Squat down as low as you can, touching your hands to the floor.
- Jump your feet back, so you end up in the plank position. Your body should be straight and your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders. Avoid arching your back.
- Jump your feet back towards your hands as you raise your hips back up into the air.
- As you come up, jump into the air with your arms overhead. You should land with your feet at shoulder width and your knees slightly bent.
- That’s one rep. Repeat the steps until you’ve completed the desired number of reps.
Regression And Progression Of The Burpee
If burpees are too challenging for you, don’t worry. You can easily modify the exercise to make it easier.
To dial down the intensity of this exercise:
- Instead of jumping your feet back into the plank position, step one foot at a time.
- Instead of jumping up from the plank, simply step your feet back in towards your hands.
- Instead of jumping into the air with each rep, stand up without jumping.
To make the burpee more challenging:
- Add a push-up to the exercise, so that you perform one rep of the burpee followed by one rep of a push-up.
- Add a jump onto an elevated surface (e.g. a bench or box) at the end of each rep.
- Add a clap to the exercise, so that you jump into the air and clap your hands together before landing.
- Time yourself and try to perform as many reps as you can in a set amount of time (e.g. 30 seconds).
- Add dumbbells or a weighted vest to increase the intensity.
Burpee Variations Worth Trying
If you want to switch up your burpee routine, there are plenty of different variations that you can try. Some examples include:
- Burpee tuck jumps: At the end of each rep, jump and bring your knees up towards your chest.
- Burpee broad jumps: At the end of each rep, jump forward instead of up.
- Lateral burpees: Perform a burpee, but jump to the side instead of up.
- Burpee box jumps: At the end of each rep, jump onto an elevated surface.
- Burpee skaters: Perform a burpee, but instead of jumping up, jump to the side and land with your feet together.
- Burpee frog jumps: At the end of each rep, jump as high as you can and bring your knees up towards your chest.
- Devil-press burpees: Perform a burpee, but instead of jumping up, press two dumbbells or kettlebells overhead.
- Jump over burpee: Perform a burpee, but at the end of each rep jump over an object.
- One-arm burpee: Perform a burpee, but when you jump up, bring one arm overhead.
- Spiderman burpees: As you jump your feet back, bring one knee up towards the opposite elbow.
When performing burpees, it’s important to practice proper form and technique. Here are a few tips for staying safe:
Technique Over Speed
Focus on technique over speed. Don’t rush through the exercise – take your time to make sure you’re using the proper form.
Some signs that you may be using improper form include: arching your back when in the plank position, jumping too high and/or pushing off with your hands, bending your knees too much when you jump, and landing with your feet too wide.
Discomfort and pain can also be signs of improper form. If you experience any discomfort or pain, stop and check your form.
Warm Up First
Burpees are an intense exercise; they require a lot of energy and can put a strain on your muscles. To reduce the risk of injury, warm up before performing burpees (14).
A good warm up serves to increase your heart rate and blood flow, improve range of motion, and prepare your body for the movements ahead (13).
Here are some ideas for a good burpee warm up:
- Jumping jacks
- High knees
- Butt kicks
These imitate the movements of the burpee, which will prime your body for the exercise. Some dynamic stretching that also targets the major muscle groups involved in the burpee can help too. The ones below are especially effective:
- Arm circles – swing your arms forward and backward in circles.
- Leg swings – swing one leg back and forth in front of you, then the other.
- Hip mobility drills – circle your hips around in both directions.
- Squats – lower down into a squat and rise back up.
Protect Your Wrists
Many people don’t realize that the wrists can be vulnerable when performing burpees. The landing can cause unnecessary strain on the wrists, especially if you have weak or injured wrists.
Correct technique can help reduce the impact when you land – focus on keeping your palms flat and your fingers spread wide apart. Reducing your speed can also help.
Wearing wrist guards or using foam mats can provide extra cushioning for your wrists if you find that the exercise is still too painful. Alternatively, you can use a weighted vest instead of dumbbells to increase the intensity of your burpee without putting strain on your wrists.
No matter how easy they may seem, burpees are still an intense exercise. Start with just a few reps and increase the number of reps slowly as your body adjusts.
Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. If you are feeling tired, stop and rest – it’s better to take a break than to risk injuring yourself.
Always cool down after any physical activity, including burpees. This will help your heart rate return to normal and help prevent muscle soreness (7).
Spend a few minutes stretching after your burpee workout, focusing on the muscles in your arms, legs, and core that you used. This will help your body to recover more quickly.
What Happens If You Do Burpees Every Day?
In general, it’s not a good idea to do burpees every day. Doing any exercise too frequently can lead to overuse injuries and burnout. Your body needs time to recover from intense exercises like burpees, so it’s best to give yourself at least one day of rest each week.
If you do want to do burpees every day, try to vary your routine. Rather than focusing on reps and sets, choose different variations of the burpee each day. This will help to keep you from getting bored and prevent overuse injuries.
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How Many Burpees Should I Do A Day?
This depends on your level of fitness and the intensity of your burpee workouts. Start with just a few reps and build up slowly as your body adjusts.
Beginner exercisers should aim for no more than 10-20 burpees per day, while advanced exercisers can perform up to 30-50 burpees per day. Ultimately, listen to your body and take breaks when you need them.
What Will 30 Burpees A Day Do?
Doing 30 burpees a day can help to improve your cardiovascular fitness, strength, and agility. It’s a great way to burn calories, build muscle, and boost your metabolism. It can also help to improve your coordination and balance, as well as providing a great full-body workout.
That said, doing 30 burpees a day will only provide limited results. To really see changes in your body and performance, combine your burpee workouts with other forms of exercise and make sure to eat a balanced diet.
Does Burpees Flatten Your Stomach?
Burpees can help to strengthen your core muscles and tone your abdominal area, but they won’t directly flatten your stomach.
To see changes in your midsection, you will need to combine burpees with a healthy diet and other forms of exercise. This is the best way to reduce stubborn belly fat and sculpt a flat stomach.
Burpees are a great way to improve both your strength and cardiovascular fitness. When done correctly, they can help to improve your agility, mental focus and even lead to fat loss. Plus, the fact that you don’t need any equipment makes them the perfect exercise to do when you’re on the go.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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