Friday, December 19, 2014

Burpees: A Love-Hate Relationship

One thing I can predict every time a client looks at his workout, is a low groan when he sees "Burpees" listed in the circuit. "Oh lawd, not BURPEES!"

If you workout, more than likely you are familiar with a Burpee, especially if you do any form of circuit training and or do plyometric exercises. For those of you not familiar with a burpee, it's  a full-body explosive movement that usually contains the following 6 movements.
  • Step 1: Squat down and place both hands on the floor (use dumbbells as hand grips if desired).
  • Step 2: Jump both feel back fully extending both legs so that your body is in a plank position.
  • Step 3. Lower your body into a pushup position
  • Step 4. Raise your body back into the plank position.
  • Step 5. Jump both feet back into the squat position.
  • Royal H. Burpee
  • Step 6. Explosively jump up into the air with your arms above your head.
You can do it with or without the pushup, add a dumbbell overhead press, do it with your hands on a medball, the variations are endless. I often have my clients use an inverted BOSU as a hand grip (with or without adding the pushup) and then instead of jumping, I have them press the BOSU above their head after returning to a stand.

I'm often asked, "Where did this form or torture come from?" Sorry to say, not from hell. LOL! It actually was developed by a man named Royal Burpee. He developed it as a part of an exercise test in the late 1930's. It was used by the military to test overall agility, coordination, and fitness. His version however, was a milder version. It was a 4-point movement without the pushup and vertical jump. His version was repeated only 4 times as a part of his testing. During the test he took several different heart-rate
measures and used them in a calculation he created that assessed the heart's efficiency at pumping blood which he used to measure the person's overall health.
Royal Burpee's Original 4-point Movement
Mr. Burpee actually warned against doing his version aggressively. Jump ahead about 80 years and boy has the burpee blossomed. Turns out it actually is a great full-body movement which can also incorporate explosive plyometric movement. Form is essential and like any exercise, if done with poor form, then injury can occur. So, be careful not to get too carried away with excessive repetitions as the cost of good technique. Burpees are a great exercise to do when you want a good workout, but have no equipment.


Strong Runner said...

You gotta love the burpees. Great exercise for all runners to include more often. Thanks for the post.

HalfCrazed Runner said...

They are a sort of torture. I too have a love hate relationship with them! Cool history notes! Happy New Year!