If ever a perfect exercise existed, the burpee would be it. As the old saying goes, if something is hard, it means you should probably do it and this applies very well to the humble burpee.
So, what is a burpee? At its basic form, a burpee is a combination of a squat, push up and vertical jump. Burpees require no expensive equipment or fancy accessories, no gym membership and can be done anywhere at any time. Given this, burpees are one of my favourite exercises to do while travelling when I don’t have access to a gym or the weather is bad and I can’t get outside for a run. The best thing about this humble exercise though is that its effect on the body is profound. Here is why:
Burpees burn a ridiculous amount of calories (and fat)
Burpees are an intense full body workout involving large muscle groups: legs, arms, glutes, abs and back. Because of this, they help ramp up your metabolism throughout the day, meaning that not only will you burn calories quickly during exercise but you will also burn more calories in a resting state, long after your workout is complete. Studies have shown that high intensity exercises such as burpees burn up to 50% more fat than conventional strength training exercises.
Burpees build strength
Again, because the burpee is a full body exercise, each repetition involves working the arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings and abs.
You can add them to any workout (and increase their intensity)
Burpees are not restricted to a class, gym schedule or particular fitness regime. You can even do them in the comfort of your own home! Given their intensity, you can pack more into less time, giving you more bang for your buck. An added bonus too is that you can always make them harder! If you do have equipment at hand, there are literally hundreds of variations you can do, including burpee box jumps, burpee pull-ups and burpee knee ups.
For those starting out with burpees though, they can be exhausting so it is important to get the basic technique right before embracing variations. A simple burpee is completed as follows:
Get into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you
Kick your feet back into a push up position
Return your feet back to the squat position as fast as possible
Immediately jump up into the air as high as you can then return to the start position and repeat!
The key is to complete these in quick succession, without a break, in order to get the maximum conditioning benefits. Try to do ten in a row as a base then build up from there. You will be sweating in no time!