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Burpees: What They Are, Variations And At Home Workouts

Burpees are calisthenics exercises to tone up and burn fat. There are many variations for this exercise.
Burpees are exercises that tone muscles and burn fat.

Among the most used fat burning exercises, we can find burpees, movement sequences that can combine different variations in which the plank and the squat are included.

In this article, we will revise what burpees are, what variations exist and how to make a home-based workout routine. In the end, we will also explain what the Burpee test consists of. 

What are burpees?

A burpee is a physical exercise in which all the body is used, and that consists of a squat thrust in combination with a plank on the floor. It's one of the most effective fat burning workouts that can be included in both strength and aerobic training. 

The basic movements of this exercise are mainly carried out in 4 steps, and that is why it is known as "four-count burpee." These are the steps:

  1. Squat

  2. Plank with push-up

  3. Squat

  4. Vertical jump

These exercises to tone up and burn fat are considered really useful in the fitness world and calisthenics; and as we've just seen in the list of steps, it combines fast movements of squat, plank, push-up, and vertical jump. 

Benefits of burpees

Burpees are highly valued exercises in the world of physical activity. Many physical benefits are attributed to it since we can work different muscles at the same time, such as:

  • Abs

  • Glutes

  • Chest

  • Shoulders

  • Femoral

  • Quadriceps

  • Triceps

For this, it is a perfect training to burn fat because it activates our metabolism and a more significant amount of calories can be burnt at rest. However, it is not recommended to do it fasting because it is a high-intensity exercise and it can harm the muscular tissue. 

How to do a burpee

To begin with, you must be in a standing position with your feet together and then do a squat. Then put your hands on the floor, in front of your feet -being in a squatting position- straight and upright.

It is important to push your feet back and stay in a plank position. At that moment bend your arms and do a push-up.

With a jump, go back to the squat and jump vertically to repeat it as much as you want. In the following video you will see how to do burpees: 

8 burpee variations

There are many burpee variations, as well as the traditional burpee that we explained previously, in which you can use different objects or movements. Here you have some of them:

1. Traditional burpee

This exercise is the most common one. The muscles of the whole body are involved, from the calf muscle to the abs. When making the jump, we must try to look straight forward.

2. Box-jump burpee

It consists of jumping onto a box, instead of going up and down. You can also include the variation with a wide jump if you do not have a box or another element that you can use in its place. The wide jump is to make a move with both feet together. 

Box-jump burpees are a variation of this exercise.

3. CrossFit burpee

It is a four-count burpee adding a triceps up at the bottom, where the chest and thighs touch the floor and jump at the top of the standing position with the hands over the head.

4. Tuck-jump burpee

A variation that complicated the traditional exercise a bit more. Change the push up for a push-up but moving your legs, this is, take the leg towards the chest in a diagonal direction, alternating left and right. Otherwise, the exercise does not change concerning the standard burpee.

5. Double burpee

When you are in the plank position, do two push-ups. This makes the jump more difficult. Each part of the exercise can be repeated to make it even more difficult.

6. One leg burpee

You stand on one foot, lower down to a squat position and put your hands on the floor, so they are aligned with the shoulders. 

Then jump backward with the standing leg. Jump back to the squat position and jump as high as you can only use the standing leg. Repeat with the other leg.

7. Side burpee

Squat down and put your hands on the floor. Jump with both legs to one side. Jump again but this time to the other side. 

8. Easy burpee

This is an easier burpee variety, perfect for beginners. The difference between this one and the normal one is that we do not do the push-up, which is what makes this exercise more difficult. Once you can do this one, try with the previous variations. 

At home workouts

As we have said before, this type of exercises can be done anywhere, and you just need a bit of space for the push-ups. 

To know how to do it, we propose a 30 days burpee challenge to do at home, following these routines:

1. Four series routine

This first one consists of doing only 4 series of burpees. In the first series we will do 7 burpees, in the second series we will do 6, then 5 in the next one, and in the last one we will do only 4.

The pause between each series will be only 1 minute. You can apply all the variants you want.

2. Tabata burpees

This consists of spending 25 seconds doing burpees -as many as you can- and stopping for 10 seconds.

The same cycle is then repeated until the 4 minutes of a Tabata series are completed. It is a really aerobic exercise in which many calories are burnt.

3. Three series routine

In this routine, we will only do 3 series. In the first one, we will make 3 burpees, and we will rest for 1 minute. Then we will do 5 and rest 3 minutes, and finally, in the last and third series, we will do all the burpees that we can without stopping for 5 minutes.

When we do burpees, we exercise areas of the body such as abdominals, legs, glutes, and shoulders.

Burpee test

The Burpee test and the exercise itself was created by the physiologist Royal H. Burpee, in his physiology doctoral thesis. 

The exercise became popular when the U.S. Armed Services adopted it as a way to assess the fitness level of recruits when the United States entered World War II.

This test consisted of a quick measure to know the agility, coordination, and strength of the person doing the test. It calculates anaerobic strength. The cardiovascular endurance of the person is evaluated regarding the number of repetitions that can be done in a specific period or when there is a mistake. 

If the person does from 0 to 21 repetitions it is a low level, from 22 to 27 it is normal, from 28 to 33 is good, 34 to 39 very good, and more than 40 burpees is excellent.

References

Podstawski, R., Bernard, K., Tomasz, B., Michał, B., & Dariusz, C. (2013). Relationship between BMI and endurance-strength abilities assessed by the 3 minute burpee test. International Journal of Sports Science, 3(1): 28-35.

Wendler, A. J. (1938). A critical analysis of test elements used in physical education. Research Quarterly. American Association for Health and Physical Education, 9(1): 64-76.

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