As exercises go, the burpee is about as all-inclusive as it gets. Virtually anyone can do burpees and benefit from this exercise also known as squat thrusts: men, women, kids, over-50s, beginners, elite athletes, you name it.
Whether you’re willing to do burpees is the question. They’re not easy or particularly fun, either. So why do them? Because burpees are brutally effective at enhancing cardiovascular conditioning and fat burning. The burpee is a full-body exercise with an unsurpassed range of motion (from body flat on the floor to airborne with a vertical leap), a blend of basic human movements (squats, push-ups, jumping) that when strung together and done repeatedly can’t help but elicit significant aerobic and anaerobic adaptations while carving up your physique.
“The burpee is one of the best functional exercises that exists,” says Donté Jones, an ACSM-certified trainer and the personal training coordinator at the Harlem YMCA in New York City. “It requires the coordination of most major muscle groups, can be done with or without additional equipment and has great cardiovascular benefits. Burpees can be done anywhere, so there’s no excuse to miss out on this great movement and its many variations.”
How To Burpee
Find an area of open floor space and begin in a standing position. A standard burpee is comprised of six distinct parts performed in sequence: 1) Squat all the way down until your hands are flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart and in front of your feet, 2) drive your feet behind you to arrive at the top of a push-up position, 3) perform one push-up, 4) bend your knees and “jump” your feet forward underneath you, 5) stand back up to the start position, and 6) go immediately into a vertical jump with your hands overhead before landing softly back on the floor. That’s one rep. It's worth noting that the push-up and vertical jump are sometimes considered optional steps, particularly for beginners because of how much intensity they add to the overall movement.
How quickly you perform this sequence of actions depends mainly on your conditioning level and familiarity with the exercise. Those new to burpees and/or who are deconditioned (the polite term for “out of shape”) will probably need to perform each step at a steady pace while advanced, in-shape individuals can do burpees more quickly, to the point where the six actions blend into each other instead of being choppy.