How To Do A Burpee

Chris Freytag demonstrating a Burpee

The Burpee is a classic full-body, cardiovascular move that increases your heart rate and burns calories fast. The burpee is one of the most frequently used moves by fitness trainers, right alongside push-ups and lunges—and for good reason!

In essence, the burpee is one of those special bodyweight exercises that uses nearly every muscle in your body while burning tons of calories while you do them and for a long time even after you’re done.

So let’s break down this killer move and learn to do it the right way; by learning how to do a burpee you’ll be able to incorporate it into any workout and sculpt a leaner, stronger body.

History of the Burpee

The Burpee was invented by American physiologist,Royal H. Burpee, as a quick and straightforward way of administering fitness tests. This is because even a single Burpee works every major muscle group and spikes the heart rate. A series of a few burpees is a great way to measure agility, coordination and strength.  

The problem is that fitness fanatics have turned this exercise into excessive repetition.  There is nothing good about 100 burpees in a row (as I’ve seen on crazy weight loss shows) because as the body fatigues poor form will ensue and injury becomes more likely. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way with burpees. A series of five is a good number to start with.  

Use the links below to navigate this burpee guide:

How to do a Burpee

The basic movement is performed in four steps and known as a “four-count burpee”:

  1.  Start in standing position and drop down into a squat (count 1)
  1.  Jump (or walk for low impact) both feet back at the same time into a plank position. In a plank position, your hands are below shoulders, body long and abs tight. Make sure your low back is not sagging. (count 2) 
  1.  Jump (or walk for low impact) both feet together between your hands. (count 3)
  1.  Release hands from the ground as you explode into the air with a jump as high as you can, reaching arms up. (Skip the jump if you want to keep it low impact.)  (count 4)

That’s one burpee. Now repeat! Be sure to tighten your core so that your low back doesn’t sag during the planks.  Be sure to use your legs not your back when jumping up from the squat. 

Once you’ve mastered that – work your way up to 10! If you really want to take it up a notch, turn it into a 6 count exercise and add in a push-up while in the plank! BAM! 

It’s important to pick a pace that works for you so you can keep the proper form as you go through the motions.

Chris Freytag demonstrating how to do a Burpee in a pink tank top

 

Benefits of Burpees

Strengthens your muscles

Learning how to do a burpee will strengthen your arms, chest, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core muscles. The burpee is one of the best fat-burning bodyweight exercises.

A great cardio exercise

From the first rep of a burpee, you will notice the intensity which drives up your heart rate quickly. The up and down movements of the burpee dramatically increase your heart rate making the Burpee a cardio exercise that is fantastic for your heart health.

This kind of intensity is great for improving cardiovascular health and is what keeps your metabolism burning all day long. The burpee is by far one of the best weight loss exercises.

Exercise efficiency

A Burpee is one of the most efficient exercises there is. According to a 2014 study, the Burpee was more effective than cycling in terms of the muscles targeted for HIIT training. 

It’s important to pick a pace that works for you so you can keep proper form as you go through the motions. Your body will start to feel heavy after a round of these, but in order to get the full benefits it’s important to stay steady and never stop until the workout is complete, so pick a pace that you know you can maintain. Also, don’t forget to breathe!

Requires no equipment

An efficient bodyweight exercise, the burpee requires no extra equipment. Take this move from the gym, to your kitchen or living room, out to the park, or in your hotel room. 

You won’t have to worry about how you’re going to do this exercise, just drop and give me 5 burpees, wherever, whenever! 

Can Be Added to ANY Workout 

Whether staying low impact (try the modified burpee below) or a HIIT workout, you can add a burpee to just about any workout! 

Training the upper body, add a burpee because it works the shoulders. Training the lower body, there’s a squat and a squat jump using the glutes, quads and hamstrings. Training the core, hello high plank!

Benefits of a Modified Burpee

Learning different variations of the burpee allows you to modify and find a variation of a burpee that works best for your body. So the next time a burpee shows up in your workout you can modify to a variation that is perfect for your body. 

Whether you’re just learning how to properly perform a burpee or you’re trying to stay low impact on the joints, there is a modified version for every stage of exercise. 

We recommend warming up the body before starting a burpee, so it’s great to weave into a larger routine so your body is prepared.

So speaking of modified burpees, below we’re sharing exactly how to modify the burpee and many variations to try!

How to Modify a Burpee

While the burpee is known as a high-impact movement, the burpee simply is not for everyone. Slow things down, take out the jump, and modify the burpee while still effectively working on the muscular strength of a burpee. 

Here are a few ways you can modify the burpee when they show up in your next workout:

Squat It Out  

You can always skip the burpee altogether. If going down to the ground and coming back up in a quick fashion is not for you, no problem!

Skip going to the ground and just squat it out! 

Step It Out 

  1. Start from a high plank position. Rather than jumping into a low squat, you will want to walk one foot to the outside of your hand and then walk your second foot into the outside of that hand.  
  2. Find the bottom of your squat, stand up with your chest tall, with NO jump at the top.
  3. Firmly place your hands back down to the ground in a low squat, and step each foot back finding your high plank again! 

Chris Freytag performing the 4 Count Modified Burpee (Low Impact Option)

Plank to High 10 

  1. Starting from a high plank position, jump your feet to the outside of your hands, finding the bottom of your low squat.
  2. Instead of jumping up from this position, you will stay low in an isolated squat hold, and place your hands over your head – working on strengthening the back extensors! 
  3. Place your hands firmly on the ground and jump back to your high plank position. 

We recommend warming up the body before starting a Burpee, so it’s great to weave into a larger routine so your body is prepared.

7 Burpee Variations

If you’re ready to take your burpee to the next level OR incorporate some different burpee variations into your next workout, try these 7 burpee variations below: 

4 Count Burpee 

Also known as your “regular burpee.” This is a 4 count burpee because it can be broken down into 4 separate parts. 

Chris Freytag doing a 4 count burpee

 

  1. High Plank 
  2. Squat 
  3. Squat Jump 
  4. Squat with Hands on the Ground 

4 Count Modified Burpee (Low Impact Option) 

As explained above, you will start from a high plank position. Walk both feet to the outside of your hands, finding the bottom of a squat. Stand up, reaching your hands overhead. Firmly plant your hands on the ground and walk back to a high plank position.

All low impact on the joints, while strengthening the muscles in your chest, glutes, shoulders, and core! 

Chris Freytag performing the 4 Count Modified Burpee (Low Impact Option)

6 Count Burpee 

Take the 6 Count Modified Burpee a step further and jump your feet into your low squat and jump at the top. The 6 count burpee will always include a push-up after you hit a high plank. 

The 6 count burpee will increase the heart rate, incorporate more chest work with the push-up, and get you sweating in no time! 

Chris Freytag performing the 6 count burpee

6 Count Modified Burpee (Low Impact Option) 

A step up from the 4 count burpee, you will start in a high plank position.

From here, you will add a push-up (on your toes or modified come down to the knees), walk your feet up to your low squat, stand up raising your arms over your head, squat low to place your palms back on the ground, walking back to your starting position of a high plank. 

This is a low-impact option of the 6 count burpee, while working on overall strength of the entire body. 

Chris Freytag performing the 6 Count Modified Burpee (Low Impact Option)

Burpee + Jumping Jack 

Adding a little extra cardio burst to your burpee, you can add on a double jumping jack at the top before returning back down to the ground in your high plank position.

This variation will elevate the heart rate but gives you a chance to stay standing before returning back down to the ground! 

Chris Freytag performing the Burpee + Jumping Jack

Burpee + 4 Punches 

The burpee + 4 punches at the top will incorporate extra cardio and will also bring your lats and upper back into the burpee. When you add punches into any workout, you are engaging your upper back muscles!

Add the 4 punches to any burpee where you’re looking for extra cardio and upper back work!  

Chris Freytag performing the Burpee + 4 Punches

4 Mountain Climber Burpees 

Starting in a high plank position, you will drive your knees into your chest to mountain climb 4 times, jump into your squat, and finish out your burpee.

This variation of the burpee will work your shoulders and your core a little extra by staying in your plank position a little longer than normal. 

Chris Freytag performing the 4 Mountain Climber Burpees

Superman Burpee 

Working on the back extensors, which is an extension of our core, add this variation onto your burpee for more back and core engagement. 

Coming from a high plank position, you will lower yourself all the way to the ground, chest to floor. Lift your arms and legs off of the ground, using your back extensors.

Place your hands back under your chest to press back up in a full push-up and complete the rest of your burpee! 

Talk about a TOTAL BODY move right here! 

Remember, you can always get creative the next time “burpees” show up in your at-home workout! 

Chris Freytag performing a Superman Burpee

Quick and Effective Burpee Workout 

If you ever find yourself short on time or you’re looking for a kick butt finisher to the end of your workout – try this quick and effective burpee workout! 

This workout will incorporate all 7 burpee variations for a sweaty 7 minute (or 14 minute workout if you decide to do the workout two times through)! 

Workout Instructions: 

EMOM: Every minute on the minute

Set your timers for 6 minutes total for one full round of this burpee workout. Throughout each minute you will perform a total of 10 of that burpee variation. 

Example –

Minute 1 5 reps of the 4 Count Burpee  (regular or modified) 
Minute 2 5 reps of the 6 Count Burpee (regular or modified)
Minute 3 5reps of the Burpee + Jumping Jack 
Minute 4 5 reps of the Burpee + 4 Punches 
Minute 5 5 reps of the 4 Mountain Climber Burpee 
Minute 6 5 reps of the Superman Burpee 

In the remaining time you have left in that minute you get to rest. The goal is to complete the 5 burpees as quickly as possible, giving yourself more rest before the next minute of burpees begins!

If you complete this, you will have done 30 burpees!!  GOOD job -that’s plenty as I said above! 

On your mark, set your times, burpee it out! 

 

The Burpee is an incredible full-body exercise but it’s important to keep variety in your workouts. Try these other exercises as part of your routine! 

(This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)
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