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Burpees: A Simple Way to Get Fit with No Gym, No Trainer or No Equipment

May 18, 2012 | 116,641 views
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By Dr. Mercola

Here it is… a simple exercise that helps accelerate your move towards fitness. If you want to do one of the single best exercises to get your whole body in shape, you've come to the right place.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you... The Burpee!

Developed in the '30s by Dr. Royal H. Burpee -- a Renaissance man who was an author, a physical fitness fanatic and a psychologist, the Burpee was created by Dr. Burpee as part of his PhD at Columbia University. The Burpee has historically been used by the military to test recruits for strength and agility. In recent decades, the larger population caught onto the move's full-body calorie-blasting fitness benefits. The best part: Anyone can do it anywhere, at anytime.

Highly Effective Simple Exercise that Requires No Equipment, Gym, or Trainer

The reason why the Burpee is "the one" end-all, be-all exercise: It is a full body exercise used in strength training and as aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

  • It pounds your entire body, working out your legs, arms, chest, back, abs, and glutes.
  • It is a phenomenal strength trainer because you are pushing and lifting your own weight, and building serious muscle.
  • The Burpee burns 50% more fat than conventional strength training. In other words, you can work out half the time and burn just as much fat. Burpees, like other strength training moves, also give your metabolism a boost. This is largely because it is a powerful anaerobic stimulus and falls into the Peak Fitness type of high intensity exercise training.
  • The Burpee can be performed anywhere, and anytime for free.
  • It is also a cardio-respiratory workout. If you do Burpees you can effectively raise your heart rate to target levels by doing a brief set of burpees.

How to Properly Perform a Burpee

It is performed in four steps, and was originally known as a "four-count Burpee":

  1. Start in a standing position and drop into a squat position (as if you're sitting back into a chair) with your hands on the ground.
  2. Bring your palms to the floor and extend your feet back in one quick motion to assume the front plank position.
  3. Return to the squat position in one quick motion.
  4. Return to an upright standing position.

Try it, and you'll see that it really packs a punch, targeting the legs, glutes, arms, and core, all at the same time. Do several in a row (if you can), and you'll ramp up your calorie burn, too.

How to Modify the Burpee if You Are Not Fit

If it's too challenging at first, here's a simple modification: Instead of going into plank position, do a Burpee by a wall. Squat down, stand up, and do a push-up against a wall. (This is especially important for anyone with knee or shoulder issues.)

How to Modify the Burpee if You Are Already Very Fit

Once you get the hang of a traditional Burpee, there are a few variations you can use to spice it up:

  1. When you're in plank position, add a push-up to tone your arms, chest and shoulders. Don't forget to keep your core engaged throughout the move!
  2. At the end of the exercise (when you move from squatting to standing), lift up on your toes for some added calf work. Or, if you're feeling really energetic, give it some propulsion and jump up for even more leg and glute action.
  3. Following the push-up, try a side plank. In plank position, keeping your right hand on the floor, slowly lift the left hand up and out to your left side, rolling your torso out to the side so that your weight is on the right hand and your left hand is extended to the ceiling. This is a great challenge for your obliques, arms and shoulders.

Take The 10-Day Burpee Challenge!

Whether you can do 10 Burpees in a row or just one, start at a level that's comfortable for you, and begin to add an additional Burpees to your routine each day for 10 consecutive days. You'll be amazed at the full-body-sculpting, belly fat-melting results, and it takes less than five minutes a day!

You can also try using it in the Peak Fitness model by simply warming up with walking for three minutes. Then doing 30 seconds of Burpees, and walk for 90 seconds and repeat that 7 times. Then cool down for 3 to 6 minutes.

The Secret Burpee Subculture

You'll love the burpee, and hate it at the same time. You'll enjoy its benefits, and groan at the pain. All the while, you'll exult in the knowledge of participating in one of the most effective physical fitness moves known.

  • To date, there are 19 variations of the Burpee on Wikipedia.com. Dozens of other variations live on YouTube and health blogs.
  • The Burpee is finding its way back into popular fitness routines. Yoga has its own variation of the Burpee, as do several popular fitness coaches.
  • The 100 Burpee challenge is a 100-day routine in which you do one Burpee on day one, two on day two, and so on, all the way up to 100 Burpees in 100 days. Can you say "ouch?"
  • A guy named Paddy Doyle performed 1,840 Burpees in one hour. If you do more, you're eligible for a spot in The Guinness Book of World Records.

To sum up, the Burpee is your ultimate, all-inclusive, calorie-blasting, weight-smashing, muscle-building, body-sculpting wonder workout. It's clearly the single best exercise you can ever do.

Kathy Smith, president of Kathy Smith Lifestyles, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for more than 30 years with a collection of books, videos, audios and DVD's on walking, cardiovascular health, nutrition, strength training, yoga, Pilates, menopause, dance, and all-things-exercise. Her goal and personal mission is to inspire the best in others.

Kathy can be reached on Facebook and Twitter and online at www.kathysmith.com.