As a website dedicated to exploring ways to workout at home, I had to start with a discussion on a very popular bodyweight exercise, the infamous “burpee”. Arguably one of the most popular (and hated) exercises around, it actually started in the 1930’s as a tool to evaluate fitness. The exercise has been modified from its original version and has become widely used in circuits and Cross Training gyms. Let’s take a look and see if it could be the best exercise that can be done from home!
What is a Burpee?
As mentioned earlier, the “burpee” (named after it’s inventor) is a 6 move exercise that requires no equipment and can be done anywhere with a few square feet of floor space:
- Start in standing position
- Squat down, placing both hands on floor
- Jump or walk feet back so that you are in push-up position
- Do a push-up (or not for modified version)
- Jump or walk feet back under you so you are in squat position again
- Explosively squat up and jump straight up reaching hands over head (skip jump for modified version)
What Muscles Do Burpees Work?
Short answer, all of them! Think about it, you are squating (quads, glutes, hamstrings), planking (core), doing a pushup (chest, triceps, delts) and then reversing the movement. If you are jumping at the end you are including an explosive movement that will increase further the work your legs are doing. This is truly a total body workout combined into one devilish exercise. Not to mention the cardio component of it. As with any type of movement involving multiple body parts, your heart is going to start thumping to keep up with the oxygen demand of all of those muscles working together. Great way to build strength and improve cardiovascular health all at once!
So, Are Burpees Worth the Effort?
Yep, afraid so (sorry). I know you wanted me to somehow debunk the great myth regarding burpees so you never have to do them again, but the fact is they are just too darn good for ya. What other exercise requires zero equipment, can almost literally be done anywhere (maybe not under water…), and is a total body workout combining strength and endurance?? For these reasons I would argue the burpee is the perfect exercise! Especially for the home gym where equipment and space are often limited.
Anybody that has done them before hates them because they are challenging and get you breathing hard instantly… but isn’t that kind of the point of exercising? We exercise to challenge ourselves and get in better shape. If an exercise is easy, it’s doing neither.
Step Up Your Next Workout, Add Burpees
- Warm-up at beginning or burn-out at end of workout with 15 burpees
- Try a bodyweight circuit: pushups, alternating lunges, crunches, burpees– perform each exercise for 30 sec, no rest between exercises. Rest 1 min after circuit. Repeat 5x.
- See how many burpees you can do in 1 min
- If you’re crazy, try the 100 burpee challenge: 10 sets of 10, rest as little as possible between sets
For anyone who is unfamiliar with burpees or not currently using them in your workout, I hope this encourages you to give them a try. Great exercise for burning calories and losing weight.
If you have any great burpee workouts or comments, please drop a comment and I’ll get back to ya soon.