The Burpee: The One Exercise to Rule Them All

by Brett & Kate McKay on January 27, 2010 · 97 comments

in Blog

When I played football in high school, my offensive line coach had an exercise he liked to use on us for punishment. When we were caught screwing around or didn’t respond with “sir” or didn’t hustle in-between plays, Coach Chamlee had to say just four words to elicit an audible groan from the offensive line: “Get your feet moving.”

Those four words marked the beginning of one minute of pure hell. It was burpee time.

The Benefits of Burpees

The burpee is the ultimate full body exercise. There’s a reason why football teams, CrossFit practitioners, and elite military forces use the burpee in their workouts. Just one simple movement tests both your strength and aerobic capacities. Below we go into a few more details on the benefits of the burpee:

Strength. The burpee is a full body, strength training exercise. With each repetition, you’ll work your chest, arms, front deltoids, thighs, hamstrings, and abs. Trust me. Your legs will feel like they’re pumping battery acid after you complete a set of burpees.

Fat burning. Because you’re using your full body when doing burpees and because they’re such an intense workout, the burpee is one of the best exercises to burn fat. Studies have shown that high intensity exercises, like burpees, burn up to 50% more fat than conventional strength training exercises. They’ve also been shown to speed up your metabolism which helps you burn more calories throughout the day. If you’re looking to get rid of that spare tire, step off the elliptical machine and start doing burpees.

Conditioning. Many men today spend hours a week in the gym sculpting washboard abs and bowling ball biceps. While those muscles look nice, they don’t do much for you when you have to split a giant pile of wood or even save your own life. Burpees are an effective exercise for developing the conditioning and endurance, the manly vim and vigor to tackle any challenge. They’re also a great exercise to include in football conditioning drills.

Free. There are no fancy gizmos, classes or gym memberships required to perform a burpee. All you need is your body, a floor, and an iron will.

Portable. You can do this exercise anywhere. On the road? Bust some out in the hotel room. Don’t have a gym membership? Get your burpee on at the park. In prison? Do them in your cell.

Burpees are how Mike Rowe keeps in shape to work his dirty jobs:

How to Perform a Burpee


The burpee is a ridiculously simple, full body exercise that will leave you gassed after doing only a few.

To perform a basic burpee, just follow these instructions:

  • Begin in a squat position with hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Kick your feet back to a pushup position.
  • Immediately return your feet to the squat position.
  • Leap up as high as possible from the squat position.

When performing burpees, the key is to perform them in quick succession in order to get the conditioning benefits this exercise is famous for.

Some of you might be thinking, “Hey, this is a squat thrust.” While the squat thrust and burpee are indeed similar, the crucial difference between the two is the leap at the end. That leap is what separates the men from the boys.

Besides the basic burpee, you also have your choice of a few burpee variations that will not only kill your body, but also your soul.

Burpee with push-up. Perform the burpee normally, but after you kick out your feet to a push-up position, go ahead and do a full push-up.

Burpee with divebomber push-up. Instead of just doing a full push-up, make it a dive bomber push-up.

Burpee+Pull-up. Stand underneath a pull-up bar or tree branch that is high enough that you have to leap to reach it. Perform a burpee normally, but when you leap up grab the bar and perform a pull-up. Repeat. Did you hear that? That was the sound of your soul dying.

The Coach Chamlee Burpee. I hated these. As mentioned above, my offensive line coach would use the specter of burpee punishment as motivation to keep us from slacking off. When Coach Chamlee said to get our feet moving, we had to “chop” our feet in place as fast as we could.  When he said “hit,” we’d hit the ground and perform a burpee. Between each rep, we continued rapidly chopping our feet. I’m tired just thinking about it.

Burpee Workouts

Because they’re such an intense exercise, you can make a quick and effective workout using just burpees. Below are a few suggested burpee workouts that will whip your flabby butt into shape.

Descending Burpee Ladder. Start with a set of 10 burpees. Rest one minutes. Then do a set of 9. Rest one minute. Continue lowering your reps by one on each set until you reach just one rep.

100 Burpee Challenge. Pretty simple. Just do one set of 100 burpees as fast as you can. I can usually do the first 20 in a minute or so. After that I hit a wall, and it takes me about 15 minutes to finish the rest as I lay on the ground to rest between reps. Take as long as you need until you hit the 100 burpee mark.

2 Minute Drill. Set your stop watch and crank out as many burpees as you can in two minutes.

Burpee Ladder with Sprints. So you’ve been doing burpees for a bit and feel like you’re in good shape. Try this little ditty to take your burpetitude to the next level. Perform the burpee ladder as described above, except instead of resting a minute between sets, perform a 50 yard sprint. I tried this a few months ago thinking I was in good shape only to barf after the second set. You know a workout is good when it’s barf good.

{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Orion January 27, 2010 at 12:28 am

I just found your blog and I wanted to tell you….

I hate you.

I want you to die! I want you to go to h3!! and you die!! These are EVIL! HORRIBLE! They are the bane of mankind!

Which is why I use ‘em to try to get in shape for rugby and firefighting…I mix ‘em in with my runs and alternate with mountain climbers, pushups, and situps.

And I hate them.

Orion

2 Michael January 27, 2010 at 1:14 am

Argh, you beat me to a burpee article. Well played, sir.

Burpees are indeed evil. Especially the St. Paddy’s Day combination of alternating burpees and beer. Which I recommend for everyone who’s not me.

I actually did the burpee+pull-ups variation a few days ago. Believe it or not, I can do more of those than straight burpees. And my soul eventually returned.

3 Tom J January 27, 2010 at 1:36 am

Greetings.

I trained in martial arts for a while, and the teacher had an exercise he called “black belt builders”. Basically, they are burpees, but done as a 4 count exercise with each step isolated. He would call cadence.

Start standing feet shoulder width apart
1 – down, hands to ground, keep feet in
2 – feet back, to push up position
3 – feet forward, hands remain on the ground
4 – jump, land in starting spot and position

They had a tendency to make me dizzy!

4 Playstead January 27, 2010 at 2:29 am

I have to say I laughed out loud at first when I saw this because it brought me back to junior high. I will say that the Burpee is a killer exercise, and that I still use today when I can’t get to the gym or after a run. It’ll beat the hell out of you.

5 Chris M. January 27, 2010 at 2:47 am

Great post! I travel a lot and I do what Mike Rowe does–burpees in my hotel room. The next time I’m at the gym I’m going to have to try the burpee+pull-up. Sounds like a great challenge.

6 Tyler Logan January 27, 2010 at 3:16 am

The burpee in ll its glory! I remember reading up about these about a year ago and got into a habit of doing them. Wow, they got strenuous about a few sets. Could definitely see the benefits though.

7 George January 27, 2010 at 4:04 am

I was wondering when the hallowed burpee would make an appearance on the AOM. I’m a huge fan, but only perform the burpee with pushup, or as it had been called, the Ross Enamit burpee. Try doing 100 burpees for time every now and again to benchmark your conditioning. My record is just under 6 minutes, but did it the other day and couldn’t manage better than just over 11!

8 George January 27, 2010 at 4:08 am

Well this is embarrassing, i did not finish reading the article before i posted out of sheer excitement. the 100 burpee challenge is already there!

I’ve found the best technique is to break the sets down into the following reps: 10,2,4,6,8,10,2,4,6,8,10,2,4,6,8,10, with rests between each set. If you did 10 the previous set you get 10 breaths rest, if you did two you get two etc.

9 Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com January 27, 2010 at 4:23 am

Burpees are seriously excellent exercise. I plan to use them when I start my Tabata Interval exercise routine in March. Cheers.

10 Jim Hart January 27, 2010 at 6:29 am

As a personal trainer I have used the burpee to torture my clients over the last 15 years. It’s one of those old school exercises I love to use with guys who are struggling with losing that last 10 pounds. There is nothing like combining the use of upper and lower body strength to create a fat burning metabolism boost that lasts all day.
Thanks for the great variations- My clients are going to hate me today.

JIM HART

11 Eden Wynter January 27, 2010 at 8:33 am

This is a great exercise. I did not know about it until I read this article.
So much great information on this site. Thank You!!!!

12 Charlie January 27, 2010 at 8:39 am

I’ve been doing these for years! Not only do they drastically simplify my workout routine, they also improve my PT score. I usually do them in a pyramid for 2 3 days a week, then do them to muscle failure 3 days a week, and rest one day. I do a burbee variation that goes like this: start in standing position, squat, thrust feet out to front leaning rest position (pushup position), do 2 pushups, return to squat, leap up, do 2 side straddle hops (jumping jacks), repeat. This addition of the 2 pushups & 2 side straddle hops really adds another dimension to the exercise.

13 Joe Librande January 27, 2010 at 8:53 am

An excellent variation:

Do 10 burpees, then a 20 yard sprint.
Do it 10x.

14 Brohammas January 27, 2010 at 8:56 am

If ever there was a reason for otherwise energetic and athletic middleschoolers to fail gym class, it was the burpee.

15 Will January 27, 2010 at 9:14 am

I had a wrestling coach back in high school that loved burpees. He’d include them in this end-of-practice/punishment workout he dubbed “10 minutes of love.” I hated them with every fiber of my being, but I’ll be damned if we weren’t in better shape than any other wrestling program in the state!

16 John Sifferman January 27, 2010 at 9:24 am

Great tutorial for a great exercise. I like doing quad-hop burpees, too. It’s similar to a burpee with pushup, only you push up with all four limbs, both knees and elbows bent.

17 Tony Young January 27, 2010 at 9:28 am

Brett,
World class Olympic lift coach Mike Burgener, during his CrossFit seminars, tests the group by requiring “yea, burpees!” be shouted each time he uses the term. If we missed the cue burpees, held in each position while he expressed his displeasure, were the “motivational consequences”, not punishment, for our inattention. We hung on every word.

Love the blog, keep it up. Yea, burpees!

18 warriorpoet912 January 27, 2010 at 9:39 am

Ahhh burpees. I do the pull-up variation as a warmup before heavy lifting and when I’m on the road I do tabatas; that’s 20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes. That’s 8 sets of about 8-10 each. Enjoy!

19 Justin January 27, 2010 at 9:46 am

Do these during my crossfit workouts regularly. Ugh! Hurt so good…

20 Greg Webb January 27, 2010 at 10:12 am

In the Corps we had an exercise on PT days called ’8-count Bodybuilders’, which is a modification of the Burpee. They’re similar to what Charlie mentioned, but with only 1 pushup and 1 side straddle hop.

21 Keith January 27, 2010 at 10:14 am

Excellent! Always looking for something that is simple and doesn’t take a lot of time or set up. I lift weights and cycle but when on the road for business travel, this will be my ticket. Great to do with my kids too. Thanks……keith

22 Russell January 27, 2010 at 10:32 am

What do you mean by ‘Chop our feet’?

23 Stin January 27, 2010 at 10:52 am

TABATA workout with burpees

20 seconds of burpees (as fast as possible)
10sec rest
Repeat eight times!

The Tabata workout is great – if you’ve not heard of it search for it on Google. It’s simply an intense interval workout consisting of 20 sec activity at 100% effort, followed by 10 sec rest, for 4 minutes. Great when you are pushed for time. You can use other exercises as well – sprints, cycling, etc.

Have fun!

24 matt January 27, 2010 at 11:13 am

Oh nooooooooo I remember these, we did these when I wrestled in high school, that and jogging up the bleachers (not at the same time!)

I was in the best shape of my life back then…you know what? I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do a burpee!

I’m gaoanna die sdf,lgjbmpdks

25 Koley January 27, 2010 at 11:14 am

The burpee is a great conditioning exercise, but it is not a strength exercise. A person who can do 100 burpees in ten minutes is in incredible condition. A person who can deadlift over 300# is relatively strong. The burpees will not make a man able to lift heavier on his deadlift, squat, deg lift, stone lift, or get stronger in any way (unless he was so pathetically weak in the first place that a pushup is a challenge for him). A well designed program includes exercises for both strength and conditioning and a good coach does not confuse which exercises and modalities are which.

26 Jaymz January 27, 2010 at 11:24 am

I didn’t know my level of man-crush on Mike Rowe could get more serious. That’s awesome.

27 Ben Fowles January 27, 2010 at 11:26 am

I remember these, I also remember hating them. Our coach called them “downups” and he would control the tempo with the whistle or by shouting “down!”. After each one we would shout the count, losing a game, ten down ups a point. slacking off? 50 downups. not hustling? 50 downups. and so on.

28 Anthony N. Emmel January 27, 2010 at 11:33 am

Hello!

I actually prefer the somewhat similar “8-count pushup” from my Army days:

1: Standing position to squat.
2. Kick feet back to the pushup position.
3-6. Do 2 pushups.
7. Return to the squat position.
8. Stand.

…and repeat.

29 B. Dresser January 27, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I’m glad to see that burpees have finally hit AOM! A few additional variations I don’t think have been mentioned:

Box Jump Burpees
- It’s what it sounds like. Instead of jumping in the air at the end of the rep, you leap up onto a 24″ box (add height to increase the fun).

Weighted Burpees
- Perform burpees using dumbells. Instead of jumping at the end, complete a shoulder press. This also allows your pushups (which ideally are “chest and thighs touch floor” deep) to go deeper.

Muscleup Burpees
- My least favorite variation, and one you’ll see occasionally on the Crossfit main page. It’s essentially a burpee pullup, only instead of a bar, you use rings… and instead of pulling your chin to your hands, you pull up all the way into a dip, and finish upright with your hands at your waist (search youtube for muscle ups to see what I mean).

I love the sprint between sets idea. Also fun are 800m or 400m runs between sets. :-)

30 Torrey January 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Wow. This is the first I’ve heard of the Burpee. For guys like me who are extremely busy and travel a lot, this is a great option for a workout

31 Shane January 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm

You forgot to mention that it is the preferred single body building exercise for prisoners in solitary confinement or who don’t have access to a weight stack. It is possible to actually build your body on these, they’re not strictly a maintenance exercise.

32 Cedrik January 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Like a few other guys that left comments I’m a CrossFit”er” and these are a favourite to warmup before a workout. If push-ups are your weakness then try this little combination, it made my workouts a lot easier after a few weeks of this one.
(All Burpees should be Push-up Burpees as described in previous comments)
15 Burpees, 50 push-ups
12 Burpees, 40 push-ups
9 Burpees, 30 push-ups
6 Burpees, 20 push-ups
3 Burpees, 10 push-ups for time.

33 Tim Lebsack January 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm

There is a reason that calisthenics became unpopular.
They bust your ass.

34 TSherry January 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I did the 10-9-8… push up variation set today after biking up to campus and a mile run. There’s potential here, but I won’t rely soley on these for my fitness. I didn’t feel anything in the core and my arms could’ve used more of a workout. I was pressed for time, so points there!

I could see these being good at the end of a more rounded workout. I’ll try to incorporate this into my normal routine.

35 Jim Thomson January 27, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Burpee ladders ,with sprints upstairs ,instead of rest are very evil indeed. Alternating with either kettlebell snatches or swings will work you too. Trying to skiprope after is a test of both stammina and coordination. Trying to perform finite motor skills (example: tying knots) between sets lets you know your limitations under high levels of stress or adrenalin rushes.

36 Gus January 27, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Doing burpees ladders with stair sprints will really work you hard. Burpees with kettlebell swings or snatches work well too. Practicing finite skills (examples tying knots, assembly or disassembly drills) while taxing yourself with burpees will prepare you for performing under high physical stress and adrenelin dumps. You can see how quickly you loose fine motor movements and know how much your hands shake. At the least burpees are great PT.

37 Parminder Gill January 27, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Oooh we have some evil variations of these. The best one goes something like this:
- Drop into press up position, then perform a plyometric one hand press up on the left, one hand on the right
- Bring the legs in and perform a half backward roll onto your back
- Perform a V sit and russian twist at the end
- As you roll forward, extend one leg and perform a plyometric one leg squat, switching to the other leg on the eccentric
- Repeat
An extreme approach that isn’t for the faint hearted!

38 Jeff January 27, 2010 at 11:49 pm

First post to the site.
Love the articles keep up the good work.
I follow the BrandX version of Crossfit and one burpee they do is called Burkes Burpee where instead of jumping at the end you do a forward roll such that you come up on you feet at the end of the roll. If you have the room you continue if not you spin so your next roll will take you back to the start.

Would also suggest the Tabata protocol. 20 sec work to 10 sec rest for 8 rounds. Really gets the heart pumping.

39 Chris Nelson January 28, 2010 at 1:15 am

At some point, I will just stop writing my blog and tell my ten regular readers to go here instead. A pox on your house for beating me to the burpee, Brett.

40 aaronpaul45 January 28, 2010 at 4:58 am

So that’s how my it’s, i will give it a try. But I want to point out that It is an important thing to know that in starting a fat burning program, don´t only make burning calories your goal, you should also try to build some lean muscle which will help you burn fat quicker. Always remember that some exercises will actually help you reach your goal faster.read more..

41 Bill January 28, 2010 at 6:46 am

Thanks for this exercise and reminder. I’ll be 53 this year. One of my goals is to lose 15 pounds and be able to do 53 good pushups without stopping. I want to do this by the end of my birthday month. I am going to add the burpee this month.
I power walk about four and half miles almost every day of the year. Even in the rain, snow or bad windchill. When the weather is seriously bad, I nordic track. I do exercises 5 to 6 days a week. I don’t look like I am in the best of shape, I still have too much belly fat. But I do have good blood pressure, pulse and sleep well most nights.
My wife thinks I am crazy, especially when I am wearing my vinyl suit under my sweats for my walk. I do this regularly, even when the temp is high 60′s low 70′s. I tell her that she can’t understand it, ITS A MAN THING! My sons know I am in good shape and are encouraged to workout too. I just like to workout and sweat. If only I could get the diet a little better. But, oh well.
Some men might like to add hindu pushups and hindu squats also. They will strain you and test you.
I liked your site and I will be back again.

42 Alex January 28, 2010 at 11:32 am

I’ve seen these before, but I had never heard them called burpees. In boot camp, we called them 8 count body builders. Everyone did a set number everytime we worked out (usually we counted backwards from 10, and then forwards to 10 for a total of 20), but if someone screwed up during the day, then our instructors would add our name to ‘the list’. At the end of the day, they would put them through their paces, and the 8 count body builders were the grand finale. Luckily, I kept my head down and usually didn’t have to go through this anymore then I had to…usually.

43 Josh January 28, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Here’s the steps for the 8 count body builders alex mentioned:
1-Stand, feet together, arms at your side
2-Drop to a squat, hands on the floor
3-Kick your feet back (push-up position)
4-Perform 1 pushup
5-Kick your feet out and spread them as wide as possible
6-Return to push-up position
7-Return to squat position
8- JUMP!
Then wash, rinse, repeat… if possible.
I went through plenty of these during boot, got darn ripped too.

44 Nick January 28, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Yay burpees – there’s nothing like the collective groan set off by burpees.

I train in Muay Thai, and after a 3 minute round of drills, bag work etc, we sometimes throw in 15 burpees as part of our 1 minute “rest” period.

I think I’ll try to work in some of the variations during the days that I teach our beginners.

45 warriorpoet912 January 28, 2010 at 6:12 pm

re: @Nick

A great variation we do in muay thai training is burpees with a single jump knee on a thai pad at the end instead of a standard jump. 10 per leg. 1 minute rest in between each leg, otherwise, power through 20 in a row! More for anaerobic lung capacity but great plyometrics for the legs.

46 Neil January 28, 2010 at 8:13 pm

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Burpees. I’m happy to see them make their overdue appearance on AOM. The variations are endless and this exercise is as old school as it gets.

Simple, brutal, and effective. Just like all the great things in life.

Well, except for the brutal part.

47 Carl Muthman January 28, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Oh God I remember those “grass drills” in football which were like the Coach Chamlee Burpees and we did them in full pads. I am guessing we did the dive bomber push ups with them also.
When the whistle blows—–
Run in place and keep those knees up and then dive into a pushup position and hit the turf with your chest while kicking the feet out the back and then push up with arms and jump into the upright and running position again.
Glad I got old so if I ever have to do them again I can run the whistle!

48 Mike January 28, 2010 at 11:03 pm

The Burpee destroyed me tonight.

Well done.

49 Steve January 28, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Our coaches/gym teachers, they were one in the same, had two basic forms of punishment.

One was the dreaded burpees, and the other was swats with a paddle.
While I was doing burpees, I was wishing it was swats instead.
When I was getting swats, I was wishing it was burpees instead.
Both were very effective. I doubt that either are used much in today’s schools.

50 Mike January 29, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Too funny! We use Burpees as part of the cross fit workout to maintain discipline and fitness with respects to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) and our new Combat Fitness Test (CFT).were shown

I hate them! But they work…..especially hard to do after a 25 yard lunge excercise….

My two youngest teenaged sons decided to break the rules this week and learned a little discipline through judicial application of the Burpee method! They enjoyed a laugh when I showed them this post, but begged never to have to do Burpees again.

LOL!

Semper Fi,
Mike

51 Chis January 29, 2010 at 11:09 pm

I wonder if Steve (above) and I went to the same high school.
If one of the older, gray-haired lady history, English teacher types complained to the coach about one of his players being disruptive or disrespectful, we were doomed. Coach didn’t get too upset about grades, but he demanded that we act like gentlemen in class.

The reported player did not get a choice between burpees or swats, he got both. After a grueling, extended session of burpees, the exhausted, sweating player, heart pounding, would have to assume the position and take whatever number of blazing swats the coach decided to deliver. Then, it was off to the showers to try to drown some of the pain.

Believe me, there were very few discipline problems, especially with the athletes.
I had a taste of both punishments, but fortunately, never at the same time.

Don’t misunderstand, I was a good kid. Standards were high. We might get a swat for something as minor as having our shirt untucked. It sounds extreme today, but we thought nothing of it at the time. I think today’s schools have gone too far in the other direction.

52 Matt January 30, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I like to do these with a weight bar too. I load a bar with a 25lb plate and do 3 sets of 10.
First set- do a standard deadlift with the bar as you go up.
Second set- do a snatch lift as you go up.
third set do a power clean as you go up.
This turns the ordinary burpee into something sadistic. I’ve lost many workout partners over this. It’s a great way to end a good workout.

53 Jeff February 1, 2010 at 9:41 am

I’m on the crew team at my college, and this year as part of our winter training we did a 500 burpee challenge. As the name implies, you do 500 burpee+pushups for time (I finished at 56 min 34 seconds). The first 100 are easy, then they get harder and harder, until you get to about 350 and you realize “hey, I can actually do this”. Then it’s pretty much smooth sailing till the end. It’s more of a mental excercise than anything else. Try it some time. You’ll find other workouts to be a piece of cake.

54 MattyBeeez February 2, 2010 at 8:52 am

in grade school we called these “Squat- Thrusts” … as the name implies you squat than thrust your legs out begind you… never had to do the jump at the end, but we had jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, and a few laps around the gym before class as a warm up to the days activity… squat-thrusts were the last thing before the run.. i hated them so much and i think i blocked them out over the years becasue until the article i had forgoten them. im about to begin a new excercise/diet plan because i have a bet with my brother(ex-army) to see who can be in better shape in the next 4 months. i gotta lose 50 lbs before i can compete with him. and there is cash and dinner at the winners choice of resturaunts on the line… cant afford to lose…. WISH ME LUCK

55 Ibrahim | TwentiesLife.com February 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I’ve never been one to resist a challenge. You’re on brother, I’m gonna crank out as many as I can this evening. I’ll report back with the details!

56 Sean Reeder February 5, 2010 at 9:26 am

These are great, Crossfit has a WOD (workout of the day) called “GI Jane”, which is comprised of performing 100 burpees – pullups for time as fast as possible; try it I promise you’ll love it so much you won’t notice the rips in your hands until you hit the shower :)

57 Frederic February 22, 2010 at 1:05 am

does anyone know of any variation to help work on the ab muscles more? I’m a windsurfer and I need abs for when the season comes back this year.

58 spence March 10, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I hate burpees. But they deliver. Try burpees with one arm pushups and commando chinups. After 5 reps, do jumping jacks for 30 seconds. Take a break. That is one set. Do this until you are ready to throwup or passout. Tomorrow you will hurt but they will work.

59 Garry Kerr March 12, 2010 at 4:48 am

Burpee Breathin Ladder

THis is a great method of performing burpees and WILL hurt!

Do 1 repetition and have 1 breath recovery
Move onto 2 repetitions and have 2 breeths recovery
Then 3 reps, 3 breaths
And so on until you cant control your breathing

If you make it to 20 you are doing great!

60 Robert W March 31, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Burpees are great!! Thanks for this article.

r

61 Erik May 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm

It’s a lovely exercise that can be made fare more horrible in these two variations:
Longjump burpee: Like a normal burpee with a pushup, only instead of jumping high, you jump as far forwards as you can. I recommend doing them for distance, see who can go the longest around a track. It’ll kill you.
The other one is done with dumbells: Go into the pushupposition holding dumbells, do a pushup, then do a renegade row with each arm (pull the dumbell to chestheight while rotating your torso as little as possibly.) then stand, clean the dumbbells and press them. Repeat until you puke. (Which you will do.)

62 SkinnyD May 24, 2010 at 4:35 pm

A version of the burpee that adds a little more dimension to the abs is this: when you land from your jump, instead of going back down for your leg extension and push-up, roll onto your back and do a “heels to the heavens” crunch. Meaning, roll onto your back and thrust your heels up as high as you can, lifting your lower back off the ground until you are on your shoulders. You keep your arms flat on the ground to stabilize. This requires a lot of ab muscle to do repeatedly. After doing “heels to the heavens,” you roll back down onto your feet, stand up completely and THEN go down into your thrust and push-up. Come back up, jump, roll onto your back, etc.
This is a workout that we do in jiu-jitsu training and it can really, really kick your butt.

63 Ian Dourley May 31, 2010 at 3:58 pm

at last! someone who appreciates the good old fashioned lung burning exercises. i played a lot of rugby when i was younger and much of the training was similair to your (sorry for this) AMERICAN football drills. i just qualified as a fitness instructor and ive been getting involved with conditioning sessions for amateur rugby teams in my area. a really tasty one i came up with is 50 burpees (10-12 rep sets with 20-30 seconds rest) followed by a 40 meter sprint, followed by 10 clean and press, then another 40 meter sprint followed by push ups to failure. repeat 4 times. believe me, many guys who thought they were in good shape quickly realised they are not. ive alos had them do it wearing a weighted vest throughout and also tried it carrying a weighted rugby ball on the sprints. suffice to say they tend to simply run the opposition into the ground now. most teams cant keep up with them after the first half. i also tried 200 burpees last week. and im never getting on a treadmill again, except to maybe do 60 second intervals between 50 burpee blocks. its the single hardest yet most satisfying session ive had in a very long time. i managed 19 minutes 26 seconds. gunna try to beat it in the morning. wish me luck!

64 David Grim June 16, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Good ‘Ol Burpees! They are tough. I am doing the 100 Burpee Challenge right now. My goal is to do 100 in less than 5 minutes. It’s day 47 and I’ve got some work to do. Check out my progress: http://www.getfitgetlean.com/exercise-goals/the-100-burpee-challenge-%E2%80%93-a-case-study-part-1-of-a-4-part-series

Thanks and keep up the great articles.

David

65 Paramjit June 19, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I never really appreciated burpees until your nice article over here. Looks like I underestimated the exercise. It definitely is more difficult that it looks. A 100 burpee challenge is something that I am going to take up.

66 rapter man July 10, 2010 at 10:25 am

Insane Prison Workout

The IPW was crafted in the confines of early American penal institutions as a way for surly inmates to add strength and confidence to their yard antics. Legend has it, 20-1 was admission to first name status; 30-1 earned cell block respect; the lads that could do 40-1 were unnatural beasts who earned the right to be in charge.

Imagine the dimensions of a prison cell, let’s call it 10×15 feet.
Perform 20 burpees
Walk to the other end of your “cell”, or 15 feet.
Perform 19 burpees
Walk back
Keep doing this until you get to one burpee

67 dale July 28, 2010 at 11:53 am

I did 100 burpees yesterday. It was the first time I’d ever attempted that many burpees in one workout. I always do my burpees with a push up, as touted by Ross Enamait @ http://www.rosstraining.com

I did my 100 in sets… 20, 15, 12, 10, 10, 8, 9, 8, 8. It took me just over 15 minutes, which is way too long. The next time I attempt the 100, I think I’ll try the following sets:

13, 13, 13, 13, 12, 12, 12, 12. A total of 8 sets instead of 9, and lowering the maximum number of burpees performed in any one set. I was pretty gassed after doing the first set of 20, and the last couple of reps were pretty sloppy. Still, I did it and I’m pleased about that.

68 Brent August 5, 2010 at 5:52 pm

It would seem that everyone posting to this is pretty young. If you can do Burpees, by all means do them. If you have ANYTHING wrong with your body, shoulders, knees, crushed sternum from many years ago, any type of back problems or neck problems, do not do a Burpee. Don’t even think about it. While they are one exercise that will replace practically all others, they are dangerous for anyone not in perfect shape joint wise. If you are 60 and someone suggests(like a trainer)that you try this, look them in the eye and make sure you mean business and tell them to not ask anyone to do these that hasn’t been checked thoroughly by an orthopedic specialist. These things are joint killers and unless you’re sure you can do them until you run out of steam, instead of ruining a joint or more than one joint, roll up a joint and do that. It might save your life.

69 Jason August 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Wow. Last year, seventh grade, I used to hate these. I was one of the skinnier kids in my P.E. class, but not the weakest. Still, I heard the word “burpees” and felt my stomach drop to the floor. After reading this article, I stood in my kitchen and busted a few burpees. Now, looking back, I realized how much of an idiot I was. Burpees are actually fun if you add your own variations to it! For example, after you jump up, throw in a few roundhouse kicks or a few left and right hooks. This’ll really get your heart pumping in addition to the challenge of the normal “burpee”.

70 René October 15, 2012 at 8:23 am

The Burpee+Pull-up variation is awesome. However, finding a pull up bar you have to jump to may incur an injury to the rotator cuff. I earned mine doing that last summer. It still acts up now and then, but I work through the mild tightness and discomfort in my shoulder. I’ll do the pull up variation on a bar I can reach without jumping.

71 Adriano October 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Burpees(+ push up) are a total killer,one may develop a strange love&hate relationship with them.l do them ocassionally when not rope jumping but they get me so gruesomely air lacking and dizzy sometimes that l had to go and look on the internet if that was normal.Well,reading all sorts of reactions l see virtually everybody bears this cross of hardcore exhaustion.l will do them more frequently now,4 minute Tabata style or 100 burpees/ascending to 10/descending to 1 leave me like a flat pancake at the end.

72 Gery November 21, 2012 at 2:11 am

Yesterday I did 90 in 7 minutes, I almost threw up so I had to stop never got to 100 unfortunately :( Today my whole body is sore!

73 Lissa Harris November 21, 2012 at 10:48 am

Currently working up to a 20 descending burpee ladder. (The pushup kind.) Started out at 8 a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday I did a 12 — 78 reps — in 12 minutes. Onward and upward.

Kindly pardon an interloper posting in your manly-man forum. I like the attitude here. Women’s fitness articles don’t talk enough about vim and vigor. Not to mention barfing.

74 Shannon D. November 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Argh Lissa – you beat me to it. Being an interloper, that is. I totally agree with your take on women’s fitness articles! Mind, I am no fan of barfing, nor of sweat dripping into my eyes after it’s saturated the headband. But I am a huge fan of the benefits that come from being willing to go there. I have a long way to go to get back to anything close to where I was as a teenager running the stadium stairs, etc. But stuff like this is what will get me back to that condition, or as close as I can 30+ years later.

Guys, thanks for the article about and variations on the Burpee. Please, carry on!

75 Diego December 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Today I incorporate for the first time burpees in my routine, I did them at the end of my workout, I did 3 sets of 8 reps….it was hell, this exercise consumes out everything from you, at this moment I can’t feel my legs. I’ll continue doing it.

76 Paul December 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm

We used do variation when was in Para’s basically we called these Bstrds ha so start standing position,full jump knee raise to chest,from standing down to floor press up and then squat then stand up do knee raise to chest now thats counts as just 1 rep. used do x 50 as a group and if one person was not in sync with timing we go back to zero again they where evil but good give them a try. I also enjoy doing 4minute tabatas burpess in successive rounds of 3 good for metabolism.The tabata sprints are awesum for wiping the floor with you 8x 20 secs 100%/10 secs rest in between well I wouldnt call it rest ha but get idea.Great site and ideas!

77 Shannon Macri May 2, 2013 at 8:57 pm

What a great article. I love body weight only exercises. Push ups,Chin ups,Lunges,Squats and Burpees are my favorites. I’ll take those over any barbell,machine or dumbbell exercises any day. I work out at home because most fitness centers are just social hang outs the past 15 years. Too many silly treadmills. When are people going to learn?

78 Ash May 12, 2013 at 3:57 am

Do they work for girls too? Im a 12 year old girl and I am familiar with burpees. Im trying to get fit in preparation for a cross country event.

79 Lu June 7, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Gymnasts , yes girls…. we have to do burpees every time we work out, that’s every morning and evening and during conditioning sessions, so man up hahah!

80 Adam July 23, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I recently started doing Burpee’s after suffering an achilles injury while running. when it feels miserable in terms of exhaustion I guess thats good?

81 Brandon July 24, 2013 at 3:17 pm

I am not sure if this burpee variation has been covered. It is called a navy seal burpee its a burpee where ya do push ups with knee raise after the push up alternate sidees. Do this between the standard burpee while your in push up position. If that isn’t a challenge for ya add a star jump [star jump= giant in air jumpin jack] to finish the burpee. Just a little extra work for your side body. ;-)

82 Craig August 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I remember doing these and front, back, goes in basic and AIT. Talk about a workout that tears a boy apart and builds a man. Between these two, the front back goes got the largest groan from our company. Five minutes and you couldn’t feel anything but pain. Gonna have to start back up again and get back to “fighting condition” again. Can’t wait for the pain to begin.

83 Neil August 6, 2013 at 10:28 am

I can do quite a few more burpee push-ups than regular burpees. I think it’s because you’re moving less of your muscles on the push-up segment, it gives the rest of your body a little rest.

Anyway, I’ve decided I prefer to keep my push-ups and my burpees separatee.

84 Frank August 10, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Awesome exercise to work into a barbell complex.

85 JR August 20, 2013 at 3:54 pm

How about this one. Double burpees. Do two push-ups instead of one. Do the jump as you stand up and then come down into a full squat and jump again.

2 push-ups and 2 jumps. It’ll make regular burpees feel like child’s play.

86 me September 7, 2013 at 9:30 pm

I discovered burpees after I was told “no more weight lifting”, and I moved away from the gym which had a VersaClimber. Burpees have become my favorite exercise to loathe.

87 Seamus September 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm

We did these for wrestling and then again in football, only we called them grass drills. Run in place til whistle, drop to pushup til whistle, jump to feet followed by jumping jacks, rinse and repeat til groaning. Wrestling added going from pushup to onto back supported by neck. I hated them with a passion, but damn if I wasn’t in great shape then.

88 Jeremy November 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Question for the guys who are doing these a lot more frequently than I am. I did a burpee ladder on Sunday, then was a wreck for about 4 or 5 days. Muscles were ridiculously sore, which I think is mainly because I didn’t really warm up. Here’s the question. How often do you do a burpee ladder? Is it every other day? Every three days? Looking for a bit of advice.

89 Eric January 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

I actually love burpees. Sets of 100 have become my favorite go-to exercise when pressed for time.

90 Luis January 28, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Burpees, and bodyweight exercises in general, are usually looked down by bodybuilders who say you can’t build muscle with them.

Granted, you may not win a Mister World contest, but for those who simply want to look good naked or on the beach, with a fit, ripped body and toned chest, shoulders and arms, these are all you need.

Burpees and all their variants are a hell of a workout. Pairing them will some pull ups will make and excellent full body routine.

91 caleb January 30, 2014 at 10:12 pm

i love burpees. i have been doing them for about 10 years. all sorts of variations some that arent listed here. like burpee kick outs, or mountain climber burpees. but the most challenging ones for me were in hockey. we had to do them on the ice in our skates and full pads. Talk about a workout.

92 BodyweightReallyIsBetter February 3, 2014 at 10:50 am

I need to incorporate these more into my bodyweight training. Think I’ve been avoiding these some because they’re so tiring, but no more of that! They WILL become a regular part of my routines from now on.

93 Chris Chillngworth February 27, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Same thing. Our football coach would call them up downs, and if someone got caught talking durring walk-throughs, he’d have us rattle 50 or so off at doubble time.

94 Sean McManus April 10, 2014 at 9:34 am

Just did 100 burpees in 11:45 this morning after a 5 minute warmup on elliptical. Stretched for 5 minutes, and done! My speed was too fast to start, so I was smoked after 20, and needed to slow down a bit. Beastmode! Thanks for the great website!

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