The burpee has been around for over 70 years. It was named after Royal H. Burpee, a physiologist who invented the very first burpee as part of a fitness test. Today, the way we do a burpee and the volume of burpees we complete has evolved a bit. Now, it's an effective workout that most fitness enthusiasts love to hate. Let's review the essential details, benefits, and variations of the burpee so you can decide if and how you should add some to your clients' workout routines.
Your client will start in an athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart. With hands out and open in front of the body, have your client squat down and place their hands on the floor. Once their hands hit the floor, they will quickly extend both legs out behind them. This puts them in a push-up position for a moment. Their core should be engaged, and hips lifted just like proper plank position. Your client will remain in a push-up position for a split second and then immediately jump both feet forward while bringing both knees closer to chest level, toes on the ground. They will then explode up into the air, fully extending their ankles, knees, hips, and arms. The key to effective burpees is to do them with proper form while also focusing on speed.
Burpees are an incredible bodyweight exercise with a variety of benefits. Here are a few reasons why we love them:
Exercises that isolate a muscle group (bicep curls, tricep pull-downs, crunches, etc.) have their own time and place. However, movements that require many muscles and joints to work together are a bit better for supporting everyday functional movement. Squatting, jumping, and planking engage the upper body, lower body, and core in every repetition.
Because the movement is a full-body exercise, it will naturally burn more calories because it requires more muscles to complete the movement. Not only that but it is also a great exercise to add to any high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is known to be a calorie-blasting workout. More muscles used and a higher intensity typically mean more calories burned which ultimately leads to faster weight loss.
Some burpee variations require equipment. However, the basic burpee can always be done anywhere without equipment. They are appropriate for the gym, home, park, or hotel room which ultimately helps minimize your clients' excuses for not working out.
For clients who don't have a lot of space for a piece of cardio equipment, this is a fantastic exercise to get their heart rate pumping. Just a few burpees get the heart and lungs working hard in a short period of time. The challenging move then quickly becomes a source of cardio.
It is a full-body workout, and even more particularly, a core workout. The core should be engaged throughout the entire movement to ensure proper burpee form. We are a big fan of exercises that target the core when no sit-ups or back extensions are required! And, we aren't necessarily referring to sculpting a six-pack, although burpees can contribute to that. The core is our base of stability and movement. So, a strong, functional core is essential to performance, injury reduction, as well as quality of movement and quality of life.
Burpee variations can help keep things interesting, challenging, and engaging. Depending on your client's goals and fitness level, you can add jumping jacks, mountain climbers, or several variations of different jumps. A basic burpee, by itself, it quite the challenge; so, if you're looking to help your clients crank up the intensity, here are a few ways to make it happen:
The client will follow the same steps as the basic burpee. However, when they explode up at the end, at the top of the jump, they will try to tuck their knees to their chest, land gently on both feet, and then move to the next rep.
The client will complete the burpees facing a plyo box. They will follow the same steps as the basic burpee. Instead of jumping straight up in the air after coming out of the push-up position, the client will explode up onto the plyo box, step or hop back down, and then move into the next repetition.
The client will follow the same steps in the basic burpee. However, they will complete the burpee just below a pull-up bar. At the end of the rep, when they extend up in the air from the plank position, they will grab the pull-up bar and complete one pull-up before dropping down and moving into the next burpee repetition.
The client will follow the same steps in the basic burpee. Then, once they are in a push-up position and before they jump their feet back up to their chest, they will complete one push-up. After pressing up from the push-up, they will jump their feet forward and explode up to complete the rep.
To view some additional burpee variations, check out this video.
A burpee workout will engage the entire body and blast calories without any equipment needed. If they do it correctly, your client's core, heart, and lungs will thank you for adding this to their workout regimen. You can stick to a basic burpee or include one of the many different burpee variations for a greater challenge. Burpees may still be that exercise your clients love to hate, but, if they do it right, they will love the results.
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