If there’s one bodyweight exercise that everyone can universally agree is challenging, it’s the burpee.
Burpees, which are a staple in metabolic conditioning and bodyweight workouts, essentially involve performing a jump squat and a push-up together back-to-back in one move or can be thought of as sequencing a squat, push-up, and vertical jump in a row.
Burpees appear in the lineup of many CrossFit workouts, many Met-Con workouts, and many at-home cardio workouts due to the cardiovascular and metabolic demand of the exercise, yet burpees are also common in regular strength training workouts due to the total body strengthening nature of the exercise as well.
Clearly, there are many benefits of burpees, which is why this challenging exercise deserves a spot in your workout routine.
If you’re looking for efficient exercises that will help get you shredded, keep reading to learn more about the benefits of burpees, how to do burpees, and useful tips for doing burpees.
We will cover:
- What Is a Burpee?
- 8 Benefits of Burpees
- Tips For Proper Burpee Execution
Let’s dive in!
What Is a Burpee?
A burpee is a dynamic, total-body bodyweight exercise that essentially involves three movements cycled together continuously: a squat, push-up, and vertical jump. You can also think of a burpee as a jump squat with a push-up.
One complete burpee involves starting from a standing position, lowering into a squat, dropping down into a push-up, then jumping your feet forward to stand up and leap into the air, reaching up as high as possible in a vertical jump before landing back again and moving into your squat to begin the second repetition.
Burpees are a calisthenic exercise that can be considered a cardio and strength training move in all in one.
8 Benefits of Burpees
Burpees are certainly rigorous and physically taxing, but the hard work is not without its payoff.
There are many benefits of burpees, including the following:
#1: Burpees Increase Your Heart Rate
As long as you’re performing burpees rapidly and pushing yourself in the way that you should be, burpees are a great cardio exercise because they increase your heart rate and respiration rate rapidly and significantly.
In fact, it’s possible to do burpees vigorously enough to approach your maximum heart rate, so burpees are one of the best exercises to add to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, especially when you don’t have access to exercise equipment or have limited space to move.
#2: Burpees Burn a Lot of Calories
Due to the high-intensity, high-impact nature of burpees, and the fact that you are working nearly every major muscle in your body, one of the benefits of burpees is that they burn a lot of calories.
If you’re completing an average of 20 burpees per minute, a 185-pound man will burn about 15 calories per minute. Therefore, just ten minutes of burpees (okay, that is a lot!) will burn 150 calories.
The more you weigh and the faster or more vigorously you perform them, the more calories you’ll burn doing burpees.
When coupled with a healthy, calorie-controlled diet and well-rounded workout routine, burpees can help you lose weight.
#3: Burpees Improve Your Cardiovascular Fitness
As mentioned, burpees increase your heart rate, imposing a demand on your heart and lungs that strengthens your cardiovascular system and increases the efficiency of the system over time.
Plus, because the intensity is so high, burpees challenge both your aerobic and anaerobic metabolic pathways and can therefore boost both your aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
#4: Burpees Improve Your Endurance
We tend to think of aerobic endurance as the ability to exercise at a lower intensity for a long period of time, but endurance also refers to your ability to perform higher-intensity exercise for a longer period of time.
There is aerobic endurance as well as anaerobic endurance.
Aerobic endurance refers to your stamina to perform low- to moderate-intensity exercise without fatiguing, whereas your anaerobic endurance is your ability to exercise at higher intensities for longer before exhaustion.
Consistently doing burpee workouts can improve both types of endurance, especially if you work on increasing the length of time you perform burpees without stopping.
For example, a beginner might do 30 seconds of burpees, progressing to 45 seconds, and then one minute without stopping.
Over time, you can add one minute at a time until you’re doing a full burpee workout of 10-15 minutes without rest.
This will also improve your muscular endurance, increasing the duration that your muscles can work without rest.
#5: Burpees Increase Bone Density
Because there is a jump component, burpees are a high-impact exercise, which makes the move excellent for increasing bone density.
The higher the impact stress, the greater the stimulus your bones recover to adapt and strengthen.
Even the push-up and squat component of the exercise helps increase bone density because these portions of the burpee strengthen your muscles.
Stronger muscles pull more forcefully on bones, which also stresses the bones in a way that yields positive adaptations—greater bone mineralization.
#6: Burpees Don’t Require Equipment
Burpees are a full-body bodyweight exercise, so you don’t need any weights, resistance bands, exercise machines, or spotters to get a great workout.
This makes burpees a fantastic exercise to do if you can’t afford a gym membership or exercise equipment.
#7: Burpees Strengthen Your Whole Body
One of the greatest benefits of burpees is that as a total-body move, they strengthen nearly every major muscle in the body, including the deltoids (shoulders), triceps, pecs (chest), lats, and traps (back), abs, back extensors, glutes, hips, quads, hip flexors, and calves.
#8: Burpees Can Be Performed Anywhere
Because burpees don’t require equipment, they can be performed just about anywhere, so burpees are great for at-home workouts or when you’re traveling or exercising outside.
All you need is a little bit of room to move.
Tips For Proper Burpee Execution
Because burpees are complex, dynamic combinations of three separate moves—a squat, push-up, and vertical jump—it can take a little practice to master the proper technique and feel like you’re able to do a burpee smoothly in one fluid motion without having to think through every step.
However, using the proper technique is really important, particularly because burpees are a high-impact, high-intensity exercise, so your muscles, connective tissues, joints, and bones are being subjected to high forces and stresses.
If you are using poor form with burpees, you can increase the risk of injuries.
Here are a few execution tips to really reap all of the benefits of burpees:
With the squat portion, you really need to sit your hips back as if sitting in a chair.
A lot of people make the mistake of allowing their knees to come forward well beyond the toes, with their center of mass also shifting forwards rather than backward.
This puts excessive strain on the knees and does not capitalize on the potential strength of your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, making for a less effective exercise.
One thing you can do to train yourself to have proper squat form is to actually position a chair or box that’s about knee height or slightly higher, about 2 to 3 feet behind you. When you go to squat, actually tap your butt on the edge of the seat to ensure you are sitting back.
It can also help to thrust your hands in front of your body straight ahead as you squat down.
Your arms will act as a counterweight to your hips and will make it easier to balance.
After the squat, drop your hands to the floor in front of you, weight-bearing through your hands completely, and jump your two feet back into a push-up position.
With the push-up portion of a burpee, make sure you keep your back straight and glutes and core actively engaged to prevent stress on your lower back.
Lower your chest as far as you can to the ground without touching it. Your elbows need to be bent to at least 90°, if not a more acute angle.
After the push-up, concentrate all of your weight on your palms as you jump your two feet forward so that you can stand.
With the jump portion, thrust your arms straight overhead as you jump to increase your momentum and jumping power.
As you start to descend from the jump, drop your arms and swing them back behind your body to help accept some of the landing load at impact.
This will also help transition you right back into your squat to begin the next burpee rep.
Although burpees probably aren’t ever going to become “easy” to perform, with consistent practice and a commitment to doing burpee workouts, or at least incorporating burpees in your workouts several times per week, you can master the burpee and squat, push, and jump your way to a shredded body.
If you would like to add some more compound exercises to your workouts, you can check out our Complete List of Compound Exercises for more ideas.