In fact, this full-body exercise is so challenging that it is even used as a penalty in Spartan obstacle course races if you fail to complete an obstacle correctly.
Burpees are also used in CrossFit metcon workouts, plyometric training, and high-intensity interval training workouts to burn calories, increase heart rate, strengthen almost every major muscle in your body, and develop explosive power.
When planning your workouts you may wonder, how many burpees should I do based on my fitness level and goals?
In this guide, we will discuss how to do burpees, how to modify burpees for beginners and advanced athletes, the average number of burpees by age and sex, and ultimately answer your question, how many burpees should I do based on my fitness level and training goals?
Let’s get started!
How Do You Do a Burpee?
Before we look at how many burpees you should do based on your fitness goals, it is important to cover how to do burpees properly.
Especially if you have never done burpees before, the number of steps to perform a burpee can feel overwhelming, particularly in comparison to most other bodyweight exercises.
One way I like to coach beginners with burpees is to think of them as a squat, push-up, and vertical jump, or a squat jump and a push-up, meaning that burpees can be thought of as a full push-up followed by a jump squat cycled continuously together.
This helps simplify the technique and get you on the fast track to mastering the complicated movement.
How To Perform A Burpee
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides, chest up, shoulders back, and core engaged. Keep your toes pointing forward and distribute your weight evenly across both feet.
- Lower your body into a squat by bending your knees and sitting your hips all the way back, as if reaching your butt back to sit in a chair. Engage your core, maintain a straight back, and keep your chest up and proud to support proper form.
- As you squat down, once your knees are bent 90 degrees, reach your palms down to the floor in front of your body about shoulder-width apart. Place them right in front of or right inside of each of your feet.
- Load all of your weight to your hands and jump your feet back behind you so that you’re in a push-up position with your weight pressing through your palms and toes. Your body should be in a straight line from the top of your head to your heels with your toes curled under.
- Perform one complete push-up by bending your elbows and lowering your chest to the ground. Keep your core and glutes tight to ensure that your hips stay in line with your body.
- Press through your palms to lift your body back up out of the push-up until your elbows are extended by not locked out. Again, be sure to engage your core and glutes and keep your hips in line with your body.
- Once the push-up is complete, load your weight into your palms and jump your feet forward towards your hands, back to their starting position, so that you’re in a tuck.
- Push through your hands and feet to stand up, thrusting your arms up into the air so that they are straight overhead, fingers pointing towards the ceiling, while jumping up vertically as high into the air as high as you can.
- As soon as you land, bend your knees to cushion the landing, transitioning immediately into a full squat to begin the next burpee rep.
As you can likely surmise based on the intensity and complexity of the burpee exercise, using proper form and technique is paramount to staying safe.
How Many Burpees Should I Be Able to Do?
If you’re a competitive athlete, you might ask: How many burpees are “good” for men or women?Although there are no official burpee standards,1Podstawski, R., Markowski, P., Clark, C. C. T., Choszcz, D., Ihász, F., Stojiljković, S., & Gronek, P. (2019). International Standards for the 3‐Minute Burpee Test: High‐ Intensity Motor Performance. Journal of Human Kinetics, 69, 137–147. https://doi.org/10.2478/hukin-2019-0021 the table below shows the average number of burpees for men and women based on fitness level, according to 30,759 burpees workouts logged by community users of Strength Level.2Burpees Standards for Men and Women (lb). (n.d.). Strength Level. https://strengthlevel.com/strength-standards/burpees
Because the intermediate level is said to be the average ability level—or represent the 50th percentile—across all ages for the given sex, it can be said that the average number of burpees for females of all ages and ability levels is 29 while the average male can do 36 burpees.
|Strength Level||Average Burpees Reps for Females||Average Burpees Reps for Males|
|Beginner||< 1||< 1|
How Many Burpees Should I Do To See Good Results?
There isn’t a set number for how many burpees you should do that will apply to everyone.
Factors such as your fitness level, training goals, the type of workout you are doing, and the other exercises you are doing in your burpee workout all play a role in choosing how many burpee reps to do.
Here are a few guidelines for how many burpees to do in a workout:
How Many Burpees Should I Do If I’m A Beginner?
While burpees are intended to be a powerful plyometric exercise that is both high-intensity and vigorous in terms of speed of execution, beginners should go slowly until they master the proper sequence and can use the correct form for all portions of the burpee exercise.
Then, you can work on increasing the speed or how many burpees you can do per minute.
Start with 2-3 sets of 5-10 burpees.
If you aren’t ready for full burpees, you can perform modified burpees to make them a little easier.
For example, you can:
- Skip the push-up
- Skip the jump
- Skip both the jump and the push-up
- Step your feet forward and back one at a time rather than jumping them back together, and after the push-up, you can step each foot forward as you prepare to stand.
How Many Burpees Should I Do For Weight Loss?
Burpees are often used in weight loss workout programs because they burn a lot of calories and provide excellent strength and conditioning simultaneously.
To lose weight, you have to create a caloric deficit, which means that you are burning more calories on a consistent basis than you are eating.
The number of burpees to do per workout to lose weight is largely dependent on your body size, your diet, your physical activity outside of exercise, and the other exercises you are doing in your burpees workouts.
That said, the recommendations for how much physical activity adults should get to lose weight set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 2). How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm and the British Heart Foundation4Understanding physical activity. (2022). Bhf.org.uk. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/publications/being-active/understanding-physical-activity# are to accumulate either 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise per week.
Burpees are almost always going to be “vigorous“ physical activity unless you are deliberately going very slowly through each stage.
That said, you shouldn’t try to do 150 minutes of burpees a week to meet your weight loss goals.
Burpees are super intense and high impact, so you will want to include a variety of types of exercise to reach your goals.
How Many Burpees Should I Do If I’m An Athlete?
If you are trying to build power and explosive strength, add resistance to your burpees with a medicine ball or weighted vest, or add a plyometric box jump, and dial back the number of reps of burpees you do to 5 to 10 per set.
Take at least two minutes of rest in between each set.
For high-intensity interval training workouts, building up to 2 to 3 sets of 30 seconds of burpees is a great starting point.
You can also do a Tabata of burpees, which involves 20 seconds on with 10 seconds off cycled through eight times at max effort.
If you are trying to improve cardio endurance, build up to 60 seconds of burpees with just 30 seconds of rest in between sets.
Keep adding sets and then cut back the rest so that you can do 2 to 5 minutes of burpees without stopping as long as you can keep the intensity high.
Want to do more burpees? Try our 30-day burpee challenge here.
- 1Podstawski, R., Markowski, P., Clark, C. C. T., Choszcz, D., Ihász, F., Stojiljković, S., & Gronek, P. (2019). International Standards for the 3‐Minute Burpee Test: High‐ Intensity Motor Performance. Journal of Human Kinetics, 69, 137–147. https://doi.org/10.2478/hukin-2019-0021
- 2Burpees Standards for Men and Women (lb). (n.d.). Strength Level. https://strengthlevel.com/strength-standards/burpees
- 3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 2). How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm
- 4Understanding physical activity. (2022). Bhf.org.uk. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/publications/being-active/understanding-physical-activity#