During the holidays I didn't have the best access to the gym. I did get in a pretty good workout in Christmas morning, but the rest of the six days that I spent back home, my workouts were done mostly outside. I did some running, walking, even built a snowman. That counts as a workout too, right?
Running in the deep snow is tough. Try this for 40 minutes and I promise, you don't need to go to gym on that day anymore.
But there's one exercise that you can do then almost anywhere, that targets all your major muscle groups and that you don't need to go to the gym for. I made sure to do some of them on the days when my only activity was a longer walk.
So, what is it?
Burpees, of course!
Every time I went to my local CrossFit box and saw the word Burpee on the whiteboard as a part of the day’s workout, comments like This is going to be a tough one! or Seriously, more burpees? were really usual.
Yes, burpees are no joke. You really need to push yourself hard to complete a set of burpees. They don’t only challenge your body but also your mind.
People have a love-hate relationship with burpees. I love burpees. It may sound crazy but it’s true. Okay, maybe I am not loving them at the moment when I’m doing my 80th burpee out of 100 while the clock is ticking unmercifully.
There is a great burpee challenge by Krista at 12minuteathlete that I take part of. Every first Friday of the month she challenges her readers to perform a hundred burpees as fast as possible, taking time and comparing the results with the last month’s results. It is fun and very challenging!
So okay, I may not actually love doing the 80th burpee at the very moment of this challenge. Or I may not really love them as I am pushing myself through the WOD of my CrossFit workout, where the burpees alternating with thrusters or wall ball shots are burning my quads and leaving me breathless.
But I do love what that exercise makes my body to do. It is definitely one of the most efficient body weight exercises out there.
A burpee is a complex exercise that is put together of squats, push ups and jumps, making all your bigger muscle groups work hard. If you try them for the first time or it's been awhile since you last did them you probably wake up the next morning with a nice soreness. It’s okay, sore muscles = happy pain as they say!
So, what is it that make burpees so efficient?
They simply make your whole body work hard. If you are looking for a complex exercise that engages all the bigger muscle groups of the body, look no further. When performing a burpee, you strengthen your arms, chest and upped back muscles, keep your core muscles engaged and make your legs – your thighs, hamstrings and glutes – work hard. So, it really is a perfect full body exercise. Doing many of them in a row, you are not only working on strength but you also challenge your endurance.
Burpees make a great aerobic and fat burning exercise. Try it yourself – do just ten quick burpees without a break and you will feel it. Burpees are great fat burners because they speed up your metabolism. It is estimated that one burpee burns between 8-14 calories. It may not seem much, but the real benefit in terms of calorie burning appears as something known as afterburn which simply means the post exercise calorie burning. The more intense the exercise – and I’m sure you agree that burpees really are intense – the greater the afterburn. With high intensity exercises your body is still burning fat even hours after the workout.
Burpees can be done almost anywhere. You don’t need any fancy machines. You don’t need any equipment at all. You don’t even need much space. All you need is a little bit of space – even a tiny bedroom is enough for performing some burpees.
A burpee workout doesn’t require a lot of time. Believe me, if you work really hard, all you need is 5 minutes to get totally exhausted form burpees. You can perform burpees as a part of a circuit routine combined other exercises of your choice, or do it as a standalone exercise.
So, you want to do some burpees? Here’s how.
1. Stand still with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body to a squat position.
2. Place your hands down on the floor in front of you.
3. Keep your hands on the floor and jump your legs back coming to a plank push up position.
4. Lower your body down until you chest touches the floor. Start pushing your chest back up and at the same time, jump your legs back to the squat position.
5. From the squat position, jump up as you clap your hands overhead.
6. Repeat the routine.
Need some more intensity? If you feel like you are ready for even more intensity, there are some variations. Try out one of the following variations of burpees.
1. Box Jump Burpee. Instead of finishing your burpee with just a jump up from the floor, jump on a box (a bench will work too).
2. Tuck Jump Burpee. Finish your burpee with a tuck jump! As you are performing the step 5 bring your legs as close to your chest as you can.
3. Burpee with a Sideways Jump. Instead of jumping straight up at step 5, finish your burpee with a sideway jump. Alternate jumping left and right.
4. One Leg Burpee. At the step 3, jump back leaving one leg on the floor and the other one elevated. Also when pushing your body up at step 4, keep only one leg on the floor and the other elevated.
They never get easy.
Burpees like many other bodyweight exercises never get easier. You won’t do a deadlift of a bench press with the same weights forever – to get stronger, you need to lift heavier weights. Body weight exercises never get easy – even just one minute of intense work is always hard. A hundred burpees are always tough, no matter how much you practice. They will always be fun, challenging and awesomely efficient!
What do you think of burpees? Love them or hate them?