As everybody knows, exercise is highly beneficial for people looking to burn fat, get in shape, and improve their health and fitness.
The problem is that not everybody enjoys doing it, especially when the exercises are tough.
Today, we’re looking at the benefits of burpees, and exercises don’t get much tougher than burpees.
Everybody knows how tough burpees can be, at least, everybody that’s ever done them before will know how tough burpees can be, yet when it comes to knowing the key benefits, that’s where some people struggle to grasp the importance of this exercise.
Burpees may be simple to perform on paper, but as with most things in life, nothing is ever really as black and white in reality.
Burpees work on your cardio, your conditioning, your mental stamina, and a whole lot more besides, but are they really as great as experts would have you believe?
Let’s take a look, as we look at 18 benefits.
What Are Burpees?
Don’t let the name fool you, because this exercise has nothing to do with burping, although we can’t promise you won’t want to throw up by the time you’ve finished with them.
Burpees are basically a calisthenics or bodyweight exercise that is best described as being a hybrid between a squat thrust and a leapfrog.
This full-body exercise is used as part of strength training and aerobic training and although basic on paper, once you do it for yourself, you’ll see why so many people find it so tough.
The exercise is carried out in four steps as you will first begin in a standing position, then drop into a squat, then kick your feet back into a plank, before kicking your feet forwards into a squat position, and leaping to your feet.
Sounds awesome, right?
History Of The Burpees:
Burpees are a type of exercise that people both look forward to doing, and dread doing at the same time.
They’re an exercise that will punish you, physically and mentally, yet we can’t overlook the fact that they’re so beneficial for health and fitness purposes.
We know what burpees are, and we know how tough they are to perform, but where did this exercise originate?
Well, that’s what we’ll be finding out today.
Royal H. Burpee:
Back in 1939, long before we had Jane Fonda, Jack LaLanne, etc, a man named Royal H. Burpee was working as a Ph. D candidate in applied physiology at Columbia University Teacher’s College, as well as the managing director at New York’s YMCA.
As part of his studies, Burpee was tasked with finding a way of measuring a person’s levels of fitness and endurance.
All of his life, Burpee was involved in fitness in some way, and especially when he was younger, he would often be found working out, taking part in athletics, wrestling, gymnastics, and weightlifting.
He had the mindset of an athlete and was a perfectionist.
Back in the 30s and 40s, very few people emphasized physical fitness and exercise, and Burpee was looking for a way to change that.
There was a stigma associated with exercise, as weightlifting was for circus freaks, and running was for track and field athletes.
If you didn’t fit the bill for either of those, what would be the point in taking part?
The Most Advanced Fitness Test Yet:
Burpee wasn’t a super-shredded, muscular athlete, despite his interest in fitness.
Sure, he was in very good shape, but he wasn’t a physical specimen.
He took pride in his appearance and he understood the importance of good health, and he wanted to replicate that for others.
Burpee decided to look for ways of working out that could be scaled up or down, depending on the fitness levels and abilities of the participants.
While looking for a fitness test to determine an individual’s overall abilities, he wrote down the following points when creating a four-step exercise to help do precisely that:
- Squat down placing both hands flat on the ground in front of you
- Pop both feet back into a plank position
- Bring both feet back forwards to the squatting position
- Stand back up
Sound familiar? It should be because what he had just described is the exercise we know today as the burpee.
Notice anything different, though?
Yep, it was a little easier back then, because there was no ‘push up’ position and jump at the end as we see now.
No, that came later.
Burpee understood how testing it was and how it was a great measure for all-around fitness.
Put very simply, the more burpees you could perform in one go, the fitter you were.
If you struggled to perform any, your fitness levels obviously needed improving.
Royal would measure an athlete’s heart rate before doing 4 burpees, and he would then measure again after doing 4 burpees and would measure how long it took for it to return to normal.
WW2 To Now:
When the US entered WW2, there needed to be a way to figure out just how to fit the soldiers.
10 exercises were picked to form a test to measure a soldier’s fitness, and the burpee was among them.
Basically, the test measured how many burpees a soldier could perform in 20 seconds.
The military modified it slightly to make it tougher, which is the variant we know and love/hate today.
Now, burpees are performed as part of the most grueling and physically demanding training routines, and the results are speaking for themselves.
So, What Are The Benefits Of Burpees?
So, what are the key benefits of performing this exercise, and why has it been a staple part of so many people’s strength and conditioning training for so long?
Here are several awesome benefits:
1. Burn Calories And Lose Weight
If you take part in any circuit training session which is designed to help people to lose weight and burn fat, you’ll find that burpees are almost certainly included as one of the main exercises, exactly like jumping rope, and jumping jacks.
The reason why is simply due to the fact that burpees are so tough to perform and they burn off so much energy while being performed.
If you want to lose weight, burpees are the perfect exercise to burn calories and get in shape.
2. Can Be Done Anywhere
One of the biggest issues that people have when it comes to working out on a schedule is the fact that it can be difficult to exercise if you don’t have a gym to go and work out in.
Some people just don’t like gyms, and some people just don’t have the time to visit the gym to train.
This is where the benefits really become apparent.
Burpees are ideal because you can do them anywhere with a bit of open space.
3. Free To Do
Not many things in life come free, but burpees certainly do.
Burpees are a bodyweight exercise that can be done anywhere, at any time, without any specialist equipment required.
4. Strengthen Your Mind
Another awesome benefit of burpees is the fact that they will test your mental fortitude and will help you to strengthen your mind.
Burpees are very tough, and the more you do them, the more out of breath you will feel and the more your lungs will burn.
This is where your mental fortitude will really be tested and it is here where your mind will become stronger than ever.
5. Increases Lung Capacity
Another lesser-known benefit is the fact that they’re ideal for people who are looking to increase their lung capacity.
You see because it is so physically demanding, your stamina and lung capacity will improve dramatically when doing this exercise.
This is why endurance athletes perform burpees, as they often find that they’re able to take in more oxygen and exercise for longer after incorporating burpees into their routines.
6. Improved Stamina And Endurance
Speaking of stamina and endurance, another great reason to consider doing more burpees on a regular basis is because of the fact that burpees will improve your stamina and your endurance.
Burpees are physically demanding and will really work wonders in boosting your fitness levels.
So, whether you’re an athlete, a marathon runner, or even somebody looking to get into slightly better shape, burpees are ideal for doing precisely that.
7. They’re A Great Addition To Your Training Routine
No matter how much you enjoy something, after a while of doing the same thing day in and day out, week in and week out, you’re going to find yourself growing bored and wanting to try something new.
One key reason why people include burpees in their routines is due to the fact that they’re s unique and that they offer something different compared to regular training.
8. Full Body Workout
Okay, if you’re training as a bodybuilder, you can’t expect to build solid muscle through performing burpees by yourself, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t help.
Burpees are a compound exercise which means that they recruit multiple joints and multiple muscle groups at the same time when being performed.
Burpees work your upper and lower body, making them ideal for training your entire body with just one movement.
9. Stronger And Muscular Legs
One reason why burpees are considered to be so effective is that they’re ideal for training and strengthening the legs.
Burpees in part, recruit squat thrusts into the movement, which is basically similar to a squat in that it works your glutes, hamstrings, and your quads.
At the top of the movement, when you jump up into the air, your calves also get worked so you can build muscular legs that are also stronger and more powerful than they were beforehand.
10. Burpees Work On Explosive Speed And Strength
Burpees are an exercise that recruits what are known as fast-twitch muscle fibers.
What makes this so important?
Well, the simple reason for why is that fast-twitch muscle fibers are responsible for explosive speed and power.
The more burpees you do, the more explosive speed and power your legs will be able to generate.
This is very useful because it will allow you to run faster for short bursts, I.E sprinting, plus you’ll also be able to jump higher as well.
If you’re an athlete or sportsperson, this is especially beneficial.
11. Burpees Are Functional
Some exercises are simply more functional than others, and burpees certainly fit that specific criterion.
Functional exercises are exercises that are deemed functional and relevant to the outside world.
Basically, they’re exercises that mimic everyday actions such as getting out of bed in the morning, bending down to pick something up, tying your shoelaces, and so on.
Burpees are very functional in that they mimic a lot of everyday actions and they work on muscles that would be worked during these same actions.
CrossFit, which is all about functional fitness, incorporates a lot of these movements for these very reasons.
12. Push Yourself, Harder, And Harder
If you’re looking for an exercise designed to test your physical and your mental limits, burpees are the perfect exercise for you.
Burpees are very tough to do, especially after you’ve done more and more and found yourself feeling tired and out of breath.
The harder they feel, the more you will have to push yourself.
We’ve already looked at how burpees push you mentally, but physically they are just as effective.
Each time you perform burpees you’ll push yourself harder and harder to do better, even if it’s just by 1 more burpee.
13. Increased Strength
When people think of burpee's benefits, they probably don’t immediately think about increasing strength and power.
After all, strongmen and powerlifters primarily lift heavy weights, not burpees, right?
Well, while that’s true, the simple fact of the matter is that burpees will indeed help you to build a significant amount of strength.
Burpees strengthen your legs, as we’ve already looked at, along with your core and your upper body.
If you combine all of this together, you have the ultimate recipe for all-around strength and power.
14. Can Be Done Anywhere
Another key benefit of burpees is the fact that they can be done pretty much anywhere.
Burpees are a bodyweight exercise so they don’t require any gym kit or any specialist equipment.
That means you can do them virtually anywhere.
Whether you’re at work, at the park, at home, in the garden, or at the gym, as long as there’s at least some open ground and a little space, you’ll be able to perform burpees with no issues whatsoever.
This is very useful because now it means people don’t have the excuse of not being able to exercise because they can’t get to a gym.
15. Save Time
If you want to get a brutal workout in but don’t have much time to spare, burpees are ideal.
Take it from us, if you’re performing burpees, you won’t be able to do them for very long, not even if you’re incredibly fit, healthy and strong.
The current world record for the most burpees done in a day is 10, 110, which was performed over the course of 24 hours.
Most people won’t even get close to that and will be finished in less than 20 minutes, after having burnt off several hundred calories, if not more.
16. Different Challenges To Try
If regular burpees just don’t cut it for you, or if you find that you want to do burpees but in a different way, you’ll find that there are plenty of different variations for you to try.
You can create different burpee workouts and mix up your training by trying things such as ‘burpee ladders’ or the ‘100 burpee challenge’ or even simply see how many burpees you can do continuously before you fatigue.
Having different variations and challenges to try will make your workout interesting and enjoyable, which is exactly what you need.
Also, you can read more about the differences between calisthenics vs Weights.
17. Different Variations To Try
Not only are there different burpee challenges for you to try, but there are also different variants of this exercise to try as well.
For example, if you want to try something different, you could try burpees with dumbbells, whereby you hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand when doing the exercise.
You could also do a burpee, pull-ups, single-leg burpees, or chest-to-floor burpees.
Having so many different variations of burpees is important because not only will you target different parts of your anatomy, but you’ll also be less likely to throw the towel in and quit because you grew bored.
18. Can Be Added To Most Workouts
Finally, another of the awesome benefits we’re looking at today is the fact that burpees can be added to most workouts.
It doesn’t matter whether you do CrossFit, circuit training, endurance training, conditioning, or resistance training, burpees make great additions to many a workout routine and can be incorporated into most types of training and most workouts.
FAQ's About Burpees:
How Many Burpees Should I Do?
The best way to get started is to start off with 10-15 burpees per day. You can increase this number if you want to, but don't go above 20. If you feel like you need to take a break after 15 burpees, just stop and rest for 5 minutes before starting again.
Why Are Burpees So Hard?
Burpee's are a great exercise for building muscle mass, endurance, and cardio fitness. Burpees are a simple exercise that anyone can perform and they are perfect for beginners who want to build their bodies without spending hours at the gym. There are many variations of burpees, but the basic version consists of jumping up onto your feet, squatting down, then jumping back up onto your feet. You repeat these movements until you reach the number of repetitions you have set.
The best way to improve your burpees is to start off slow. If you jump up onto your feet, try not to jump straight up. Instead, bend your knees slightly before jumping up. Also, make sure to keep your core tight throughout the entire movement. When you squat down, don't let your hips sag. Keep them tight and lift yourself up using your legs only. Once you've completed the first repetition, try to increase the speed of your jumps. Try to get faster each time you complete a rep.
If you're looking to add some variety to your burpees, try doing them while holding a weight. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell between your hands and use them to help you jump up onto your toes. Another option would be to hold a medicine ball in front of you and jump up onto your toes with it.
As you can see, there are many, many different benefits of burpees so if you’re looking for inspiration for your next workout, why not start doing burpees?
Burpees are brutal, they’ll get you fit, they’ll get you lean, and they’ll do plenty more besides.
Don’t just take our word for it, though, why not perform burpees and see for yourself?