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Monday, June 10, 2013

Bodyweight Series: Burpees

We'll be starting a series on the cheapest, most convenient, and most effective piece of exercise equipment ever...your own body weight!

No gym membership required.
No fancy schmancy equipment.
All you need is a floor...and you!
It's freer than free!
Can literally be done any place, any time, while wearing {or not wearing!} anything.

Let's first look at burpees...

Burpees may just be the single best exercise that you can possibly do.  And yet, burpees are one of those exercises that people absolutely love to hate. It's hard not to hate something that kicks your butt, leaves you a millimeter from passing out, and burns the besqueezus out of every muscle in your body. This will burn crazy calories, shed fat all over, and make you stronger while working your arms, abs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and chest.

I think there's something wrong with my neurological wiring because I just love doing burpees {strangely enough} for the same reason people want to give them the middle finger.

If you search the web, you'll find a whole heck of a lot of burpee variations, depending on how hard you want to get knocked on your tush. But the idea is that you go from a vertical position to horizontal then back up to vertical as quickly as you can. Like this...

4-Point Burpee

Start standing.


Kick feet back to plank/push-up position.

Pull feet back in to squat.

Back up to standing or jump up.

6-point/Push-Up Burpee: For an extra challenge, there's the 6-point burpee which adds a push-up {chest to touch the ground} from the plank position.

Burpee Box Jumps: Instead of standing up or jumping straight up, jump on to a plyometric box.

There's some burpees that exhibit poor form and good form. For example, CrossFit's version of burpees are the perfect example of the former. It goes a little something like this:

Squat. Kick out {more like flop down} to touch chest and thighs to the ground. Back to squat. Jump up to touch a target 6" above your max reach.

And I have a sorry butt has been doing this version of burpees, thinking I'm all hardcore knocking burpees out faster than you can say "onomatopoeia." In the back of my mind I keep thinking, "Why do people hate burpees so much? They're easy!" Well, no wonder! I've been cheating!

I really have no idea why CrossFit has its athletes do burpees like this. To be able to do more in less time? Doing this version of burpees causes the athlete to hyper extend the lumbar when getting up, which can cause injury.

Ready to do it?  Let's go!

30 Day Burpee Challenge: This is a great way to slowly get into the swing of your new favorite exercise. Modify any way you want, take your time, and try to keep your back as straight as possible.

The Prisoner Workout: What do you do when you're a prisoner...meaning, you have no agenda, no equipment, and limited space? You work out, of course!  You do burpees!  Lots and lots of burpees!  Here's how this one 20 reps of burpees {straight through without stopping, if possible}. Rest and catch your breath.  Now do 19 reps of burpees. Catch your breath.  Keep descending the number of reps you do until you get all the way down to 1.  See how long it takes you to complete this workout.  I have done this once {doing cheater/CrossFit burps} and it took me 26:33.  I'll have to try it again by doing 4-point or 6-point burpees. You can modify by starting at a different number other than 20, like 10 or 5, depending on your fitness level and how much time you've got.

Let us know how it goes!  Keep an eye out for the next Bodyweight Series exercise...

Lots of love, Dawn

New York Times article "What's the Best Exercise?"
Burpee T-shirt
4-Point Burpee Image:
6-Point Burpee Image
Burpee Box Jumps Image
Burpees and proper form

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