Raise your hand if you love burpees! What? Nobody?! I agree. Even though I don’t love burpees, I also can’t say that I hate them. I actually don’t mind them at all. They’re not too bad, if you know how to do burpees.
I used to hate burpees. Yes, hate is a very strong word. In this case, it’s completely accurate. I considered burpees to be equal to the devil. They are one of the most challenging CrossFit core exercises.
If I’m being honest, I hated them because I wasn’t good at them and I just couldn’t ever get comfortable with the suck. If you know me, you know I don’t like it when things are hard for me. So, I set out to embrace them.
I embraced them by doing them. More specifically, I did a 100 burpee challenge.
The challenge was set up to do one burpee on day one, two burpees on day two, etc.
If you miss a day or days, you have to make up ALL of the missed burpees plus the current day’s burpees to continue. For example, if you miss days 10, 11 and 12, then on day 13 you have to do 46 burpees.
One day, I did over 300. One day I did over 400. One day I did over 600.
I completed the challenge, though, and today I don’t hate burpees. How could I possibly hate them when I’ve never again had to do 600+ burpees in a single day?!
Here are a few things I learned about how to do burpees
1. They really aren’t that hard
Let’s be honest, they are nothing more than getting on the ground and then getting back up. When you’re up, get down. When you’re down, get up.
That day I had to do over 600, really made me see them differently. As soon as I stood up, all I had to do was get down. Once I was down, I just had to get up.
Of course there is always technique, which I’ll address shortly, but the basics of a burpee aren’t hard. Get down and get back up.
2. You have to pace yourself
That pace is going to be different for everyone. Things like fitness level, volume of burpees, whether you are combining them with other movements, etc, will determine your pace from workout to workout.
Your pace should be the rate at which you can move as quickly as possible, without stopping. Burpees will get your heart rate up and your lungs burning so you have to find that point that you can continue to manage both without stopping.
Sprinting and stopping and sprinting and stopping is going to take you much longer to accomplish the same amount of work. Find that breaking point of moving as fast as you can, but not so fast that you have to stop…and then stay there.
3. Technique is a key part of how to do burpees
There are many tips out there for how to do burpees. Here are some of my favorites.
When you get down, don’t stop in the middle, at the top of the plank, and then lower yourself. Rather, try to kick your feet back as you’re coming down and “catch” yourself in the bottom of the push up position. This is because it takes longer when you stop, it takes more effort to stop there, and you then have to do the decline of your push up, which is harder than just falling.
When you get up, jump your feet wider than your hands and throw your hips up as you bring those feet up. When you go to stand up, go straight into your jump. Don’t stop at the stand, and then jump. Let your stand and jump be one fluid movement.
Move as little as possible. I am all about efficiency and accomplishing a task with as little effort as possible. Flow as many movements together as possible. Step up and step down if you have to.
4. Burpees are mentally taxing
It can be a real mental game for a lot of people. There were far more people who started the 100 day challenge than people who completed it.
The burpee is very repetitive and it takes a lot of effort to complete just one, and they never go as fast as you want them to go so it can be frustrating. When you accept them for the challenge that they are, you can just get after it.
If you think burpees suck, embrace them.
Embrace that you’re burning calories and getting a full body workout every time you do them.
Embrace them because you’ll never need the Life Alert, if you’ll just do them. You’ll be able to get on the floor and play with your kids, your grandkids, your dogs, or whatever, and not have to worry about not being able to get up.
So, the next time you see burpees programmed, embrace them. After all, you’re just getting down and then getting back up.
By Kari Reed