The Benefits of Burpees

Have you ever heard of burpees? If you are reading this, you probably have. Despite the various ways of doing burpees in different fitness circles, the exercise is basically going down & getting up again. Ok, it’s a little more complicated than that: starting from a standing position, you squat down, put your hands on the surface beneath you, push your legs back into a plank position, do a pushup, jump your legs back to your hands, stand up, & finish with a jump. Whether you hate them or love them, burpees are full of benefits for your body, if done correctly. As with any exercise, proper form comes before speed or reps, so be sure to keep your core engaged the entire time, & don’t continue if any injuries are aggravated from the exercise. Now, onto the many benefits of burpees…

  • Burpees work your entire body

The burpee (shall we refer to them hereon out as the big B? …nah) combines a squat, plank, & jump, & allows for numerous variations to work more body parts, as further explained below. The squat works your quadriceps & glutes, while the pushup works your arms & back. And of course, the plank along with joining all the movements together seamlessly requires engagement from your core. All in all, there is no major muscle group the burpee does not work, making it an ideal full body exercise.
  • Burpees build cardio endurance & muscular strength

If you’ve ever tried to do multiple burpees in a row, you quickly realize they work your heart, hard. Because burpees require movement from your whole body, not in the least your largest muscle groups, your heart needs to pump blood throughout your whole body, thus elevating your heart rate. But burpees not only work your heart, they also build muscle by using the basic strength moves. You could build a full-body workout with the squat, plank, & pushup & build muscles, making you tone & lean. Why not put them all together into one exercise & add cardio burn for an even more full workout? After doing burpees, you will see greater definition & strength in your legs, arms, & core.
  • Burpees allow for variety

You could probably just do burpees for the rest of your life & not need another exercise (though that sounds scary, right?). Why? Because the burpee lends itself to endless variety, since at any stage, you can add movements for each body part, as well as for explosive power. For example, at the beginning of the movement, instead of going into a squat, jump into a lunge; or, while in the plank position, add a plank jump or mountain climbers; better yet, you can intensify your arm strength by adding a clap in your pushup, or doing one armed pushups, or spiderman pushups. Another effective way to work different small muscle groups with the burpee is by manipulating the angles of your movements. So, instead of bringing your legs straight up to your arms, you can bring them to the side & work your oblique muscles. You could also move the positions of your hands in the pushup to work different back & arm muscles. To bring explosive power into the burpee, try a tuck jump or split jump instead of the normal jump. Or simply jump up with your hands behind your head, or in front of you. The possibilites are endless, & each little change works different muscles. 
  • Burpees can be done anywhere & at anytime

One of the best things about burpees is their accessibility. Actually, you don’t need anything but your body & a space big enough to get down & jump up in! (I’ve even done them naked, so I mean it when I say you only need your body and some space.) You can wake up & do them bedside first thing in the morning, or find a quiet space in a stairwell, or do some reps in a park, or crank some out in your living room, or kitchen, or backyard, or anywhere! You might not want to do them anywhere or at anytime, for social propriety, but the principle still stands: burpees are the ultimate accessible exercise. 

As you can see, I am a big fan of burpees. In fact, I might even love them. I’ve been incorporating them into my workouts, to varying degrees (I’m almost embarrassed by how many I do), for about 4 years now. They don’t get easy, ever, but they do get better with time. I love them because they work your whole body, they not only strengthen your heart but also your muscles, they can be mixed up for endless variety, & they can be done anywhere & anytime! Truth be told, I also love how challenging they are, physically & mentally. No matter what level of fitness you are, burpees can take you to the next level. See for yourself the benefits burpees can give your body & mind. 

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