Do You Want to Build a Burpee?
Updated: Jan 11
Created in the late 1930's by physiologist Royal H. Burpee while doing research for his applied physiology doctorate, which looked at measuring a person's physical fitness, the Burpee has become the most hated or most loved exercise... mainly by your fitness instructors. It requires total body involvement and has a high metabolic demand. That means we can get the metabolism revving and scorch those calories. In boot camp classes around the globe, it's our go-to exercise when we want to add a little spice to the end of our sessions; draining everything we got left in the tank to celebrate our workout.
If you think about it, the burpee can be found in our everyday lives. Don't believe me?
When you trip and fall forward onto the ground, you got to get back up. There's a burpee. For the parents out there, when you're playing with your children, you usually find yourself on the floor, then have to bounce back up onto your feet when someone's knocking at the door. There's a burpee.
It's honestly quite the sneaky "little"exercise.
With that being said, the burpee does offer some functional benefits when executed correctly. It's not that crazy, if you think about it.
There is also a plethora of variations for the burpee from the low impact, to the max intensity, to the creative. The original burpee was simply a squat to high plank to squat to stand then, later amplified by the U.S. Army for their soldier fitness testing programs. Today, we see the burpee with the push-up and the jump combination, the step in & out modifications, jumping onto and off from elevated platforms, and even using dumbbells to form what we call the "Man-Maker Burpee." Yes! That's what it's actually called. It's a monstrosity of an exercise, but do 5 sets of 10 reps and you got yourself a quick full-body work out.
FUN FACT! It's believed that the name "Burpee" was the Americanization of the French-Canadian family name Beaupré.
The Build-a-Burpee Workout
The burpee has so many pieces to it, so why not break down the main components of the burpee and create one heck of a home workout routine?
No special equipment is needed; just your body.
The workout protocol is as follows.
30 sec High Plank
15 Jump Squats
10 Chest to Deck Burpees
Try to keep the transition time between exercises under 30 seconds. However, do take some extra time if you need to. Remember, listen to your body but still challenge yourself.
If you start feeling a little sick to the stomach, walk around or, ever so lightly, jog on the spot. That feeling is just the lactic acid building up in your digestive system. A light and constant aerobic activity will bring the oxygen back to the muscles and ease that queasy sensation.
Complete 3 rounds with 60-90 seconds of rest in between rounds.
Ready to give this one a try? Let me know in the comments.
All the following options can be applied in the full Chest to Deck Burpee.
Perform the High Plank and Push-up from the base of your thighs, not on the knee. And, ensure that there's a straight line from head to knees. Check out my blog post Drop and Give Me 20: Breaking Down the Push-up for additional details about the modification options for the push-up.
For lower impact in the Jump Squat, remove the jump and explosively stand on your toes.
With the Frogger, bring the legs in one at a time.
Fit Pro Tips
Always to start the burpee from the squat position.
Brace the abdominals throughout all the movements. To do so, contract your abdominals as if you're getting punched in the gut.
Engage the glutes (squeeze your bum cheeks) in all movement.
When you're transitioning from the high plank to the frogger position, keep a shoulder-width distance between your feet. It will help you execute the jump squat, or standing option component, without risking damage to the knees
Following the frogger position, transition into a squat position with your feet, with more load on the mid-foot and heels, before the jump or the standing on your toes option.
When landing from the jump, land in the squat position, with proper weight distribution on the feet, to absorb the landing and save your knees and back.
Please consult with a physician before starting any exercise routine. You understand that participating in physical exercise under which could put you at risk for injury. You hereby state that you voluntarily participate in these activities and assume all risks of injury that may result from these activities. In agreeing to participate in exercise programming, in-person or online, you accept all responsibility and waive any legal recourse against Coach Josef, Coach Suzanne, and CLG Fitness from any and all claims resulting from personal injuries, illness, death, damages, loss, or expenses sustained from participating in such programs.
Rodio, Michael. The Badass History of the Burpee and the Legendary Man Who Created It Retrieved December 2020, from mensjournal.com: https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/history-burpee-origin-name-royal-trainer-bodyweight/