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Burpees: you love them, you hate them, or you tolerate them. But there’s no denying they’re the king of bang-for-your buck bodyweight exercises, hitting your chest, legs, abs and, of course, your lungs.
Which means that burpees, as agonising as they are, deserve a place in your workout. There is, however, more to them than grinding out sloppy reps and ‘starfishing’ at the end of your gym session or home workout. Done correctly, burpees — and the workouts you include them in — are a fine art form, so it pays to get them right.
Here, we’ll be explaining how to do exactly that, alongside some expertly-crafted burpee workouts to sweat through ASAP, plus some variations to try once you’ve got the exercise down-pat. But there’s one thing we have to cover off first…
How to Burpee
- From a standing position, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor and place your palms on the floor.
- From there, kick your feet back as far as you can while keeping your arms extended.
- As soon as your feet land jump them back in towards your hands, then jump up into the air.
- and and immediately squat down to go into the next rep.
Expert tip: A solid core is key to avoiding sagging hips when you kick your feet back.
Best Burpee Alternatives
That said, burpee workouts don’t start and end with the bodyweight staple. You can incorporate various methods of resistance and plyometrics, from weighted vests to dumbbells and sandbags to box jumps. Here are a few burpee workout variants we love, and the coaching cues that will help you nail your form.
Medicine Ball Burpee
- Get into a press-up position with your hands resting on a medicine ball.
- Bring both knees up towards your chest and then explodes upwards into a jump, lifting the ball above your head while in mid air.
- Stand with your dumbbells in each hand, then squat down and lower the weights to the floor.
- Jump both of your feet behind you and perform a press-up, making sure that your chest drops all the way to the floor.
- Now, hop your legs forward and jump up, landing softly with your knees slightly bent.
- If you only have one dumbbell, alternate hands each rep.
Split Leg Burpee
- Squat down and place your hands on the floor between your feet, then jump both feet backward into the top of a press-up position.
- Lower your chest to the ground.
- Jump one leg forward into a lunge position, before explosively jumping upward to standing.
- Repeat and alternate your front legs with each rep.
The barbell burpee is an all-in-one workout, crucial when gym space is at a premium. It fuses two high-impact exercises – the deadlift and burpee – for fast fat loss. “They’re compound moves, which means you’re recruiting multiple muscle groups at once,” explains PT Alex Crockford. “By combining push and pull moves, you’ll drive up your heart rate to ignite your calorie burn.”
- Reach down to the bar with your feet at shoulder width. Bend your legs and contract your shoulders to engage your lats and help to keep your back straight.
- Drive your feet into the floor and stand up straight. Keep your back engaged by imagining you’re trying to snap the bar in half. Lower under control.
- Keep hold of the bar and jump your legs back into a press-up position. Grip the bar tight, then do a press-up: tuck your elbows in, touching your chest to the barbell.
- Once back in a high plank, jump your legs back up to the bar and reset your deadlift stance by keeping your feet flat on the floor, with your hips down and your chest up. Grip and rip into your next rep.
The 11 Best, and Most Brutal, Burpee Workouts
Burpee Workout #1: ‘Death By Burpee’
- Minute 1: 1 burpee
- Minute 2: 2 burpees
- Minute 3: 3 burpees
- Minute 4: 4 burpees
- Minute 5: 5 burpees
“‘Death By Burpee’ is a simple tool we use at Gym Jones to teach people how to jump into that fire. It’s quick and you can do it anywhere, so you’re instantly stripped of your excuses. All you need is a will to suffer,” explains its creator Bobby Maximus. “At some point, you’ll meet what we call ‘the moment’, when your mind tells you you’re too tired and that you should quit.”
“Everyone does, whether they are elite athletes, huge actors or a guy off the street. It’s here that everyone has to decide how deep they want to dig. For most, it’s 15-20 minutes in and if you listen to your mind then and walk away, you’ll stay the same. If you push for another minute or two; if you find that grit, you’ll build mental and physical resolve that will last you a lifetime.”
Grab a stopwatch a prepare to face death. Each minute, add an extra burpee, resting for the time you have left in that minute before the next level. Keep adding and repping until you cannot do the required number of burpees in the given minute. It sounds easy but round 12 and onwards is a different matter. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…right?
The scoreboard: 5-8: Dead meat, 9-12: Below ground, 13-16: Good, 17-20: Dead good, 21-24: Elite, 25+: Immortal
Burpee Workout #2: ‘The Hardest Man in the Yard’
- Stand in one corner of a room. Do 20 burpees.
- Now run to another corner of the room and do 19 burpees. Run to another corner and do 18.
- Repeat the pattern until you reach 1 burpee. Rest only as needed.
“It’s not for the faint of heart, but it has an incredible ability to give you strength, speed, and insane endurance. Those are all skills that make you harder to take down. That’s why I’d do it when I was fighting in the UFC, and why I give it to the Special Forces soldiers that I train at Gym Jones,” says Bobby Maximus.
“Do this workout as quickly as you can, but make sure to use strict form. If you can finish in 15 minutes or less, you may be able to claim the title of ‘the hardest man in the yard.'”
Burpee Workout #3: Noah Ohlsen’s 12-Minute AMRAP Bodyweight Workout
CrossFit’s second fittest man in the world and seven-times Games athlete Noah Ohlsen recently dropped his go-to home workout on our YouTube channel. The AMRAP (as many reps/rounds as possible) workout can be done one of two ways, with the bodyweight alternative using fat-blasting burpees to kick each round off. You’ll find the video above and, below, the easy-to-follow structure:
AMRAP 12 minutes:
- 4 burpees
- 8 air squats
- 16 sit-ups
Burpee Workout #4: Run and Row
In this burpee workout, you’ll be using an EMOM (every minute, on the minute) format. You’ll start the rower timer, then work to complete the required work in one minute. Once you do the required effort, you’ll rest until the end of the minute.
At the top of each minute, row for 10 calories. Once completed, you’ll start your burpee workout ‘count-up’, performing one burpee in after the first row, two burpees after the second, three burpees after the third and…you get the gist. The workout is over when you can no longer hit the burpee reps into the minute. Shoot for at least 10 rounds.
Burpee Workout #5: ‘Run, Burpee, Run’
This military-style calorie-blaster will challenge anyone. Here’s how it works: starting with a single burpee, you’ll then sprint a short 80m, then perform two burpees. Once finished, sprint back to where you started and perform three once you’re there. Continue back and forth in this style, making sure to add a rep each time until you hit a total of twenty burpees. Try and keep maximum speed on the sprints and keep enough gas in the tank to rep out a grand total of 220 burpees. Ouch.
Burpee Workout #6: ‘Gotta Get Up to Get Down’
Perfect for a home workout finisher or as part of a larger burpee workout, ‘Gotta Get Up to Get Down’ uses the six-pack building front leaning rest (FLR) — a meaner version of the plank — in partnership with burpees every time you break. Sweat will pour.
Here’s how it works: set a timer for 15 minutes and maintain the FLR for as long as possible. Every time you break, lose tension or let perfect form fail, perform a burpee and clap your hands above your head before dropping down into the FLR again. Add one burpee to every break. A warning: it’s harder than it sounds.
Burpee Workout #7: ‘300 Plus’
In this burpee workout, you’ll be using a ‘chipper’ format. You’ll tackle all prescribed reps of each movement as quickly as possible before moving onto the next. Here’s the catch: the second you start each minute, you’re going to perform five burpees before continuing with your reps.
“This one can be quick, or it can be long. Whichever you choose (or whichever one chooses you) it’s going to be tough,” says Men’s Health Fitness Editor Andrew Tracey. “This one’s all about knowing your strengths, the faster you can chew through these reps, the quicker the workout will be over. But if you pull the pin too fast and gas yourself out, those burpees are going to catch up with you.” Understood? Here’s how it works…
0. Burpee x 5 Every Minute
1. Pull-Up x 50 reps
2. Press-Up x 100 reps
3. Prisoner Squats x 150 reps
Burpee Workout #8: ‘Boiling Point’
“This one is simple and sinister. It’s going to start off incredibly easily, but don’t underestimate it, those reps are going to catch up quickly,” says Men’s Health Fitness Editor Andrew Tracey.
“Stay calm and controlled for as many rounds as possible, when rest time is abundant. When you reach beyond the seventh or eighth round, you’re going to have to start moving at a clip to fit all of the reps in. In the final few rounds (when you’re most fatigued) is when you need to be stomping on the gas.” If you fail to reach the prescribed reps within the sixty second time cap on any round, your workout is over. Here’s how it works:
- Burpee x 1,2,3,4…15
- Kettlebell swing x 1,2,3,4…15
Burpee Workout #9: CrossFit Open Workout 12.1
“There is beauty in simplicity,” explains coach James McShane of ShiroKuma Health & Fitness. “A low skill movement with nothing limiting the participant other than their ability to endure extreme discomfort.”
Specifically, McShane is talking about burpees. And lots of them. In this burpee workout, you’ll start a timer for 7 minutes and see how many burpees you can grind through before the clock hits zero. “The top athletes were managing upwards of 135 reps, though to compare yourself you’ll have to go chest to ground at the bottom of the movement and jump and touch a target set 6 inches above your maximum reach at the top,” says McShane. Just don’t forget to count…
Burpee Workout #10: 150-Rep Home Session
Let’s get creative. In this 15-minute burpee workout, you’ll need any relatively heavy object you can find — a loaded rucksack, a large rock, a compost bag or a sandbag, for example — for 150 reps of sweaty work. Here’s the deal:
1A) Front-Loaded Squat: 150 reps
1B) Chest-To-Floor Burpee: 5 reps every minute
Burpee Workout #11: ‘Get a Grip’
If you lack the motivation to go all-out on an AMRAP (as many rounds/reps as possible) workout, use this penalty-driven workout to gain a new mindset. Repeat the first three movements as many times as possible in 15 minutes — but, every time you let go of the bar, you have to drop and grind through 10 burpees as a forfeit.
Your grip strength will be tested, so make sure you’re hanging on. “Focus on form – to beat your score next time, try to reduce your rest time after the burpees,” says fitness editor Andrew Tracey. “The question is: how few burpees can you get away with?”
- Barbell Hang Clean: 5 Reps
- Bent-Over Row: 10 Reps
- Deadlift: 15 Reps
- (Penalty) Burpee: 10 Reps
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