What makes the burpee so special?

When I explain the burpee to first-time clients, I always feel it’s important to mention that the burpee is a fundamental, functional exercise.  What do you do when you fall down?  Ideally, you get back up.  That’s the burpee.  In fitness and in life, getting back up is the hard part, but it’s necessary.

I was inspired by one of my workouts this week:  200 burpees for time.  It took me just over 13 minutes and I was huffing and puffing pretty good when it was over.  It’s amazing how simple burpees are, but they are wildly effective in getting your energy expenditure up and putting your work capacity to the test.

We like to complain about doing burpees when we see them in our exercise programs, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do them!  Here, we share a few of our favorite variations so that you can mix up your training and become a burpee beast!

Burpee Variations

Standard Burpee: 

This is the meat and potatoes of the burpee world.  Throw yourself on the floor and pick yourself back up.  All the pieces are here:  The graceful ‘flop’ onto the ground, the push up, the extension of the hips and the jump.  Together, these components make up what we consider the standard burpee.

Speed Burpee: 

This variation of the burpee involves all of the same components of the standard burpee with the exception of bringing your body all the way to the floor.  Therefore, rather than completing a full push up, you would stop in the plank position.  It is important to have a strong hollow position in the plank so that you don’t let your midline sag.  These burpees are aptly named because they can be completed more quickly than a standard burpee.

Burpee Over Barbell: 

We are always supposed to jump at the top of our burpees.  However, doing burpees over a barbell holds us to a new level of accountability.  Oftentimes partnered with a barbell movement, this variation of burpee can be very fatiguing.  Be sure to clear the barbell with your jump – safety is always of the highest importance and this movement requires a bit of coordination.

DB Burpee: 

Believe it or not, burpees don’t have to be a bodyweight movement.  You can add resistance by holding a dumbbell in each hand.  I would recommend keeping the dumbbells relatively light because you still want to be able to control your jump at the top of the movement.  These burpees should be done in short bursts rather than long bouts.

Burpee Pull Up: 

By nature, a burpee is a pushing motion. The push up at the bottom will work your shoulders, chest, and triceps.  By adding a pull up at the top of the movement, you engage posterior musculature and your pulling muscles.  These two muscle groups are very different and therefore create a great balance to the movement.  You are allowed to jump into the pull up to use momentum, but shouldn’t rely on it exclusively.  

Closing Thoughts

Burpees aren’t necessarily the most exciting movement in the world, but they definitely serve a purpose and can be very challenging if implemented properly.  These variations can help you add some spice to your exercise routine and mix things up!  

There are several other variations of the burpee that we have on our Milo video channel.  Did we leave any out that you are a fan of?  Let us know in a comment below and until next time.. Stay moving!

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