Should You Do Burpees Every Day? How To Do Burpees To See Results

Before we answer the question of whether you should be doing burpees every day, let’s have a quick (promised!) History lesson.

The exercise physiologist Royal Burpee coined the move as early as the late 1930s. In an interview with Insider, Burpee’s granddaughter Sheryl Burpee Dluginski noted that her grandfather started the move while he was doing research for his PhD at Columbia. His goal: to find an efficient way to measure the physical fitness of people.

According to Alexis Dreiss, a NASM CPT and certified Functional Strength Coach, Burpee’s test still hits the mark when it comes to athletic ratings. “Burpees are a whole body movement,” she explains. “You’re working through a hip joint, knee [movement], and push movement in one. You get a real bang for your money. ”

It’s also worth noting that in Burpee’s original research, the instructions for moving were pretty straightforward (and perhaps a little less sloppy than what you typically see in gyms). Participants were instructed to bend their knees first and place their hands flat on the floor in front of them. They were then instructed to jump their legs straight back and pause. Eventually, participants were instructed to jump their legs back in and stand up to complete the movement before starting over.

After each subject (men and boys were originally presented in the study) performed a burpee, they were assessed for their speed in performing the movement, their pulse rate after exercise, and the degree of shortness of breath.

And while control and accuracy were key factors in executing the move in Burpee’s original outline, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen (or been directed) faster, angrier versions in Bootcamp classes, faster, angrier versions (with far more thrown limbs). And this is exactly why Roxie Jones, CPT, does not recommend it for beginners. “Most people don’t have enough strength for their upper body or core muscles [burpees] right, ”she says, noting that beginner strength trainers are better off doing pushups, planks, and squats on their own in the beginning.

That being said, if you can really master the move, there are a number of benefits associated with adding burpees to your routine on a regular basis. Below are the benefits of burpees, how to get better at exercise, and how to scale them up or down depending on your fitness level.

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1. You hit several large muscle groups at the same time.

    As Dreiss notes, burpees are basically a combination of three separate strength exercises: a plank, a push-up, and a squat. And within these three exercises, several muscles are activated. “You hit everything [in a burpee] from your core to your pecs to your glutes, ”she adds.

    Your arms, back, and chest will likely get most of the work. In a 2019 study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports, researchers confirmed that participants who did a HIIT workout (which consisted mostly of burpees) experienced severe upper body burns.

    2. You will exercise your cardio faster.

      “When you add burpees to your workout and do them one at a time, you’re doing an aerobic exercise,” explains Dreiss. And since burpees have traditionally not been performed at a moderate pace (like jogging or hopping on the elliptical) and fast for short bursts for long periods of time, they are usually categorized as a HIIT exercise, which results in heart health benefits.

      Just try to limit your HIIT training to once or twice a week as science recently showed that too much HIIT can actually have negative effects.

      3. Expect to burn mega calories.

        And since burpees are considered a HIIT exercise, expect to burn a lot of calories, Dreiss says. A 2019 study that observed exercisers doing either a HIIT or steady state cardio workout found that those who participated in the HIIT routine burned three calories per minute while those who did steady state workouts burned two per minute. (And while it might not seem like much, those minutes can add up quickly!)

        Meanwhile, additional research from the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that those who did HIIT workouts lost almost a third more body fat than those who did moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.

        4. The movement takes up practically no space.

          One of Dreiss’ favorite perks associated with burpees? The move takes up next to no space – and only uses your body weight.

          5. They can be added to most training sessions.

            While Dreiss states that you shouldn’t just do burpees for your workout all day, combining them with aerobic or weight training every day (or even pumping out a few at noon to boost your energy levels) is a good choice. “These should be done in moderation and viewed as a fun addition to your regular strength and conditioning program,” she says.

            How to get better at burpees

            While Burpee’s original tutorial provided a pretty solid foundation for doing the exercise in a controlled and safe manner, Dreiss says that your starting point for better improvement is to practice the main movements in it over and over again: squats, high planks, and high presses.

            She also notes that isolating the three strength exercises below can be a solid start to feeling stronger if you’re not entirely comfortable doing a full burpee. Dreiss recommends integrating these movements into your strength training two to three times a week:

            High planks

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            Hold for at least 45 seconds to a minute at a time. Make sure there is a direct line between your head and your toes and keep a neutral stare in front of you. Keep your wrists just below your shoulders with your arms straight.

            pushups

            Do eight to ten pushups for three to four sets. “If you don’t feel comfortable doing a traditional push-up, you can do it on your knees or on a raised surface,” recommends Dreiss. Make sure your chest is touching or getting close to the floor by stretching your elbows right behind you and keeping them close to your body.

            Squats

            Do 10 to 12 squats with your own body weight for three to four sets, making sure that “your glutes are parallel to the floor and your feet are a little wider than hip-width apart as you build them,” she says.

            As for performing the burpees themselves, the following steps are listed by Dreiss. Once you are confident in your burpee skills, you can do them at any point in the workout, but be aware that regardless of the point in time, they will tire you out quickly. “For three to four sets, don’t do more than 10 to 12 repetitions at a time,” she says.

            And the answer you’ve been waiting for: “Make sure you only incorporate it into your training two to four days a week.”

            How to do a burpee

            1. Start with your feet hip-width apart, standing upright, arms by your sides. This is the starting position.
            2. Bend your hips forward and place your hands on your feet to bounce your feet back onto a high plank.
            3. Continue to support the core as you lower your chest to the floor for a full push-up.
            4. After getting up from the push-up, jump with your feet towards your hands and land gently in a squat.
            5. Get up in a standing position. This is a repetition. (You can add a jump at the end of the move if you want, which makes the challenge harder!)

              The most common mistakes Dreiss sees in clients usually occur at the end of the movement or during push-ups. “I see a lot of people falling to the ground instead of doing a full push-up,” she explains. “Often times after people hit a plank, they let go of their core completely and let their hips sag and their chests sag. This is the quickest way to lose chest strengthening. “

              The simple solution, says Dreiss? “Go back to perfecting that push-up!”

              How to Grade Up (or Downgrade) Your Burpees

              As Jones repeats, if burpees just aren’t your thing (which is perfectly fine), holding on to these three main movements (plank, squat, push-up) can help you build strength without risking injury. But if burpees are your jam (what, go!) You can always bring in modifications.

              Here’s a regression from Dreiss to make it easier: “Instead of doing a full burpee, try a squat thrust instead,” she says. “It’s exactly the same flow as with a burpee, only without push-ups. I would also recommend this option if you can’t do full pushups without kneeling down. “

              As for a more challenging variant, Dreiss is a big fan of jumps. “Turn up the volume by adding a tuck jump at the end of the move instead of jumping back to standing and starting over,” she says. “So if you get off the ground, you jump off both feet and immediately ram both knees into your chest. Land gently on both feet and repeat the jump. “

              And if you’re a real burpee fan, try this 30 day bang for a mega challenge.


              Julia Sullivan, CPT is a New York City-based writer, indoor rowing instructor, outdoor enthusiast, powerlifting novice, and devoted mother cat.

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