Mastering burpees and using them wisely in your workouts can help you in multiple ways. From standing on your toes to reach a box of cereal on a shelf to running up a set of stairs in a flash, burpees can prep you for everyday life. But burpees can also provide a serious challenge that can give hardcore strength and endurance athletes a competitive edge.
- Develop dynamic strength. Burpees demand spring and power from your calves, quads, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, abdominals, pecs, shoulders, lats and every muscle in between.
- Get your heart rate up and can be a staple for your interval workouts or part of a cardio bonanza.
- Are adaptable for all fitness levels and workouts. You can do low impact burpees to protect your joints. You can do burpees in slow motion (freezing at each stage of the exercise) to work on stability and strength. You can do burpees fast and furiously to work on quick response, agility and heart rate.
- Can be done anywhere, anytime with or without equipment. All you need for a basic burpee is your bodyweight. However, you can do a burpee holding a BOSU Trainer, a stability ball or a medicine ball.
What makes the burpee special is that there are four stages to the exercise that are valuable in and of themselves. When you link the stages together, you end up with a very effective exercise.
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The Four Stages of a Burpee are…
1) The Reach is a fingertip to toe extension. You’ll raise your arms to the ceiling to initiate the movement. Come up on your toes in a calf raise or jump. Lower your heels with control after the calf-raise or jump.
2) The Squat- Once your feet are grounded, bend your knees with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on the floor inside your legs.
3) The Plank- To get into the plank position, you can walk your feet back or hop back depending on how much impact you want to exert on your joints. Even though you’ll be moving quickly, you still need to exercise control to protect your lumbar spine. Some people skip the plank and jump back to a jarring bent arm position in which their stomachs hit the ground. A less risky technique that can strengthen your back, rather than put it at risk, is to land in a solid plank and do a push-up to incorporate chest work.
4) The Return- From the plank either step your feet back in toward your hands or do a frog jump or pike jump to return to standing.
Put it all together and get your burpee on! This functional movement has the power to infuse your workouts with interest and energy. Mix-up the tempo, the style and the equipment you use to execute the movement and discover how to make burpees work for you.