Fitness & Training, Strength fitness

Everything you need to know about burpees

Done well, burpees are among the most effective fitness exercises around for attaining all kinds of goals. Combined with other exercises in a circuit training regime, they engage the whole body in an intense way, bringing together cardio and muscle training. Find out how to do them and what their advantages are in order to integrate them seamlessly into your sports routine.

The burpee: An effective exercise for building muscle strength

Attractive young muscular woman doing cross training at the gym. She is doing burpees exercise.

A fitness exercise that is indispensable in building muscle strength, the burpee was invented by Doctor Royal H. Burpee in the United States in the 1930s. The aim was to find out about the physical condition of people by use of a practical test. Since then, this dynamic sequence of postures has found its place in all gyms, being as appreciated as it is hated by athletes, soldiers and sportsmen of all levels.

Reach your goals with burpees

The burpee is a complete exercise that allows you to achieve several fitness objectives:

  • It works the muscles and calls for high cardio exercise.
  • Worked into sets, it will improve endurance.
  • It is particularly effective in burning fat, with an energy expenditure of between 8 and 14 kcal per minute.

Why integrate burpees into your sports routine?

You will benefit from incorporating burpees into your workout sessions if you want to:

  • Make the whole body work.
  • Find an exercise that uses only your body weight and does not require any equipment.
  • Benefit from a versatile exercise that can be performed anywhere you choose to boost your circuit training: At home, in the garden, at the office, in the gym and when out and about.

Bodybuilding: How do you do burpees well?

Sporty young female athlete doing burpees at city park for leg power workout.

Originally, the burpee consisted of 4 movements. Over time, this fitness exercise has been improved upon with a number of variations. To obtain all the benefits of burpees, take the time to take on board all of the required movements, making sure you maintain good posture so as not to injure yourself. You will gradually find the right rhythm and quickly be able to integrate it into your workouts.

The movements of the burpee, step-by-step

Here’s how to do classic burpees:

  • Crouch down and put your hands on the floor in front of you, keeping your arms shoulder-width apart.
  • Supporting your hands, kick your feet back, then stabilise yourself for a brief moment in the plank position.
  • Bring your feet back with a small jump to return to them to their initial position, all the time still resting on your hands.
  • Move dynamically from a squatting position to standing position.
  • Jump as high as you can with your arms in the air.
  • Start again!

Some tips for a successful set of burpees

To succeed with burpees, remember the following points:

  • Go through the different phases of the movement quickly, since this is the point of this exercise!
  • Keep your heels off the ground when putting your hands out in front of you.
  • Take extra care with the position of your hand and knees.
  • Avoid arching your back during the exercise.
  • Squeeze your abs so that they adopt a core strength position.
  • During the jump, keep your body upright.

How to integrate burpees into your sports training

To train effectively and exercise a maximum of different muscle groups, it is always preferable to alternate several exercises in the manner of circuit training. Choose other exercises like crunches, squats, jumping jacks or why not a sprint or even climb the stairs? Build yourself an explosive session plan to burn as many calories as possible.

How to get started with burpees

If you are a beginner and you are performing burpees for the first time, opt for sets of 10 burpees with 1 minute of recovery time between each set. Once you’re comfortable, adjust the number of sets to suit your level and goals. For example, you can create a challenge for yourself, with 10 burpees a day to start with, moving on to 20, then 50.

To begin with, you should be able to perform about 3 to 6 burpees in every 30-second period – that’s just over a minute for every set of 10 exercises. This time will probably increase to about ten burpees for every 30 seconds in time.

Variations of burpees for experts

Do you have a perfect command of the exercise and want to take on additional challenges? These burpee variations will spice up your sessions:

  • Push-up burpees: Push-up means integrating a push-up movement. Once in the plank position, augment the exercise by performing a push-up.
  • Flying burpees: Instead of jumping vertically at the end of the movement, jump in a forward extension.
  • Pull-up burpees: During the jump phase, hang from a bar and finish the movement with a pull-up.
  • Weight burpees: Perform burpees with a kettlebell in your hands. Instead of the final jump, lift your kettlebell with your arms to carry it outstretched above your head’s position. 
  • There are various other variations, so you can get creative!

An example of circuit training incorporating burpees

Here is an example of circuit training with burpees that you can adapt according to your level, your desires and your goals:

  • 10 burpees
  • 10 squats
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 crunches
  • 10 jumping jacks
  • 10 mountain climbers

You can adjust the number of sets performed and the number of repetitions of each exercise to create tailor-made sessions for yourself. Remember to warm up properly and to finish with a few stretches.

Check out our Fitness & Training page for more advice.