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BURPEES: Love Them, Hate Them, Do Them

By Megan Johnson McCullough

Everyone’s favorite exercise….NOT! Even though we hate them, there’s plenty of reason to love them. They burn some serious calories. They’re a total body movement, which means that they make you stronger with how many muscles are activated. Let’s not forget there’s no equipment needed- so they’re portable and can be done just about anywhere. Now you are head over heels for them, right?

So who invented this torture?

Don’t blame me or your coach or trainer. Rather, credit goes to Royal Huddleston Burpee. This physiologist from New York created the movement for a fitness test done at the YMCA back in 1939. He used this exercise to receive acceptance into his doctoral program at Columbia University.

Burpee 101

What sounds so simple on paper makes us sweat and roll our eyes when we hear it on the agenda for the day’s workout. So here’s the basics… ready, set, go!

Squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you, then jump both your feet back to a plank position, then jump the feet in towards your hands, return to standing and jump up. There are a few variations, everyone is capable of every type of exercise. There are ways you can adapt Burpees to make them suitable for anyone’s individual needs. Bad knees or low back problems mean you might add a chair. This adds a higher elevation. The chair takes the pressure off the back, knees, and wrists instead of at the lower position on the floor. Jumping has its expiration date for many of our knees, so stepping in and back can take its place. An extra challenge would be adding a pushup or some renegade dumbbell rows at the plank position.

Why we should do them

Here’s the selling point… a few sets of burpees are more beneficial than 30 minutes on the Elliptical at a steady state. The reality is that exercise is uncomfortable, but for results we have to move our body efficiently, effectively, and past our comfort zone. Burpees do burn up to 50% more fat than moderately striding along on a cardio machine. Don’t think of them as a punishment, think of them as a gift to feel and look better. I hate to break it to you, but in a world that wants fast results, burpees are one of the fastest ways to transform your body. Weight loss, core, strength, endurance, coordination, time saving….gosh, what are the negatives?

Changing the body requires getting out of the comfort zone. Burpees never become comfortable. From the person who exercises for general fitness to the professional bodybuilder, burpees benefit us all. When I personally stepped off the treadmill hamster wheel and started doing burpees, I saw the most change in my body and toned up faster and better than ever before.

Final thoughts

Accept the challenge of this love-hate relationship with Burpees. There’s no question that they give a feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes we don’t want to hear the truth….DO BURPEES!!!! Start with a goal to do 15 per day and hey by the end of the week that’s 105 complete. 5 past 100 sounds pretty good.

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