Burpees are an exercise almost like no other. We all hated doing burpees, or “squat thrusts,” in PE class when we were kids. There’s a reason for that: we hated them because they are hard. Think about it this way, though: Different exercises challenge different muscle groups. If a particular muscle group is weak, any exercises that challenge that group are going to feel difficult. Well, burpees are one exercise that truly challenge every muscle in your body, as well as your cardiovascular system. So, it would be safe to assume that if your entire body is strong, burpees should be a breeze.
A lot of exercises can be considered full-body exercises. For example, one could argue pushups are a full-body exercise because even though they mostly work your chest and arms, they also challenge your core, back and legs to a degree. Burpees, however, are inarguably a total, full-body exercise. Burpees work your legs, arms, chest, shoulders and back equally while your core stabilizes you throughout each repetition. If that wasn’t enough, they also test your cardiovascular strength like no other exercise because you’re using all of the largest muscle groups in your body in one fluid motion. In other words, they get your heart pumping fast, quickly. This also means you’ll burn a ton of fat doing them.
A traditional burpee is done by squatting down, kicking your legs back and getting into a pushup position, hopping back on your feet, and then jumping as high as you can. As if that isn’t hard enough, you can actually make the exercise more challenging — or less — if you prefer. Here are some of the variations:
Squat Thrusts – a lot of people interchange squat thrusts with burpees, but they’re different. The difference between a burpee and a squat thrust is the jump at the end; that’s it. Burpees have it, squat thrusts don’t. Needless to say, squat thrusts are a little bit easier.
Burpee + Pushup – You can add a pushup to every burpee if you want to make it a little harder. When you go into the pushup position, just do a pushup before you hop back on your feet.
Burpee + Pullup – Another more challenging variation is standing under a pullup bar and doing a pullup at the end of each burpee.
Burpee + Pushup + Pullup – Lastly, if you really want to be a He-Man, you can combine all three. Good luck!
Try the 100-Burpee Challenge
If you really want to test your strength and endurance, try doing 100 burpees for time. Just remember, these aren’t jumping jacks. Don’t be surprised if this takes you 30 minutes or longer. Though, if you’re in pretty good shape, it will probably take you about 15 minutes; it will just be the worst 15 minutes of your life.