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 understanding how to do a burpee you’ll be able to incorporate it into any workout to sculpt a leaner, stronger body.
History of the Burpee
According to the Huffington Post, the burpee was named for physiologist Royal H. Burpee. His granddaughter, Sheryl Burpee Dluginski, confirms that her grandfather was a “fitness fanatic” and wanted to design a quick fitness assessment for everyday people: it was the four count burpee as we know it today. The exercise became popular during WWII when it was used to assess the fitness level of military recruits.
The problem is that fitness fanantics have turned this exercise into excessive repetition. There is nothing good about 100 burpees in a row (as I saw on the Biggest Loser one episode) 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.
Related: 5 Exercises You’re Doing Wrong
How To Do An Effective 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.
2. 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.
3. Jump (or walk for low impact) both feet back together between your hands for a squat.
4. Release hands from 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.)
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!
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