Burpees are one of those exercises that you may not look forward too but that can benefit your physical fitness greatly.
It’s an explosive full-body movement that tests your physical strength, builds muscle, requires explosiveness, and improves endurance. So, if you’re the type who loves calisthenics for results then this is it!
But not everyone knows how to execute this exercise properly. No worries though… we’ll show you how to get the most benefit from it while ensuring your safety.
Mastering The Burpee
Here’s a step-by-step guide to mastering the burpee…
1. Starting position
Before you perform your burpees, you need to get into a position that will allow you to do the movement as efficiently as possible. In fact, every exercise requires a good starting position.
- So, for a good starting position, stand straight with your feet about hip-width.
2. The Squat down
The next step is to get down to the floor but first, you have to squat down to be able to efficiently transition into the push-up.
- Squat down leaning slightly forward and place your hands on the floor in front of you about shoulder-width pointing straight forward. Keep your elbows close to your sides.
3. The Setup
Now it’s time to position yourself for the jump which requires you to be in a push-up position but just a little different.
- From the step 2 position, lift your butt and kick both legs back so that your feet are spread about shoulder-width or even a little wider. Keep your head looking forward, core tight, and maintain a neutral torso.
4. The Push-Up
The next step is the push-up where you touch your chest to the ground. And everyone knows how to do a proper push-up right? Well, not quite.
- While looking straight ahead, keep your elbows tucked and lower yourself until your chest touches the ground. Make sure your core is tight and back is straight (never arch your back).
- Push yourself up while maintaining the same form.
5. Bottom of Squat… Again
To set yourself up for the big jump, you need to get back into the bottom of a squat position.
- While keeping your hands and upper torso in the same position, leap your legs forward. Your feet should land just behind, or either just outside or inside of your hands in the ideal position to jump from (this will vary), and your upper thighs should be parallel to the floor (too low and you’re wasting energy).
Free free to tweak where you position your feet for the jump since this can vary between individuals.
And now, for the moment we’ve all been waiting for… the jump! During this part of the burpee, there needs to be extension in the ankles, knees, and hips which is a necessary way to train for full-body athletic function and explosiveness.
- From the squat down position, explode upward as high as you can and as you jump, lift your arms overhead.
As you land on the ground, you’ll then transition into the bottom of a squat and follow the steps again.
Here’s a video example of the burpee exercise…
Tips For An Effective Burpee
The basic form of the burpee is pretty straightforward and applicable to most people attempting this exercise. But there are points in the exercise which may vary slightly between individuals.
Make every rep count
You don’t want to simply go through the motions (as you shouldn’t with any exercise). It’s always important to follow the steps and not shortchange your repetitions by just finding the quickest way to do the exercise.
This is a waste of time and you’re skipping out on the functional benefits from each step which requires your muscles to engage and stabilize, not to mention the functional benefit of triple-extension during the explosive jump phase.
Maintain Good Form
Breaking proper form/body positioning is not only less effective but it’s not good for the safety of your joints and muscles. There’s a reason why you need to keep a tight core and maintain a neutral back.
This is optimal for providing yourself with a stable base during the burpee so that you can effectively execute the movement.
Also, keeping your wrists straight and arms tucked to your sides is the best way to generate the most force while also protecting your shoulder joints.
Find Your Ideal Jump Position
To get the best out of the jump portion of the burpee, your feet should not be too narrow or wide. That’s why the recommendation is to keep your feet about hip-width or slightly in or out either way.
But, we come in all shapes and sizes so feel free to adjust to a stance that is the most comfortable and conducive to a good jump. Now, you don’t have to jump to a maximum height but you do need to put some decent effort into this portion of the exercise which should result in your ankles, knees, and hips fully extending.
The burpee works the core, leg muscles, glutes, pushing muscles (chest, triceps, shoulders), and hip flexors.
Not to mention it’ll raise your heart rate and improve your cardiovascular endurance as a result, which means you’ll be able to consume more oxygen (this also burns calories following workouts).
But you’ll also burn a ton of calories (important for weight loss), and improve your full-body coordination as well since many muscle groups are working together to perform this exercise. (1)
And one convincing reason to do more burpees is that it makes for an excellent exercise when doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) which involves repeated bouts of high-intensity activity followed by an active recovery period (typically anywhere from 10-30 minutes).
So, we think it’s definitely a good idea to include burpees in your HIIT training not only because it’s a great full-body bodyweight exercise, but also to mix things up and add some variety if you’re not already doing it.
7 Awesome Burpee Variations
Ok, so eventually the basic burpee will become too easy for you, and in this case, we’re going to have to turn things up a bit.
Well, we have some tough variations that’ll take your burpee progress and gains to the next level!
1. Single-Leg Burpee
The single-leg burpee is great for functional balance and stability, therefore, it’s a great variation for athletes and those who engage in similar activities.
- Perform the burpee same as the basic version but keep your foot more in the center for optimal balance and jumping power. Your foot position will naturally be different than the basic burpee.
Do one leg at a time or alternate.
2. Tuck Jump Burpee
The tuck jump burpee is one of the more popular variations but it’s rather simple as well.
- Do the standard burpee and then lift both knees as high as you can during the jump.
3. Lateral Jump Burpee
- Perform one rep of the basic burpee and then jump laterally to the left. Perform another rep and then jump laterally to the right.
4. Jumping Lunge Burpee
The lunge is one of the best leg exercises for building the quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Do a basic burpee and in between each one, perform an alternating jumping lunge.
5. Elevated Burpee
There’s not much to go into detail about with the elevated burpee. You simply find a bench or elevated surface and perform your burpees maintaining the same good form as you would during the basic version.
6. Spiderman Burpee
This is a pretty cool variation that’ll also work your core but you’ll have to do two push-ups between each jump.
- As you lower yourself down during the push-up, turn your head to the left and move your left knee toward your left elbow. Push yourself back up and repeat for the right side. Now you can do the jump like the basic burpee.
Your body should be low to the ground during this variation so that your legs are parallel to the floor when you lift them to your knees.
7. Mountain Climber Burpee
Here’s a common push-up variation which can hit the lower abs between your burpee jumps.
- To do this variation, perform one push-up then bring your left knee toward your stomach. Do another push-up then bring your right knee toward your stomach. Then you can do the jump portion of the burpee.
Well, there you have it, everything you need to know about performing the burpee correctly to get the benefits.
Be sure to not compromise good form and try out the many different variations if the basic burpee becomes much too easy for you.