If you’ve followed me on my Instagram account (@livehealthrun), spent time with me during crossfit, or just taken the time to talk to me about fitness, then you’ve probably already know how much I LOVE burpees and how much of a smile it brings to my face when they show up in our daily workout of the day (WOD) or when I get to do a lot of them.
But before I share just some of the reasons that I love them so much it would probably be best for me to share – even for you cursed souls that have never heard of such a thing (there is much debate about how lucky or unlucky those uninformed people are) what a burpee is. Even better, I’ll share the following video so there is no confusion:
From that, you can see there are two fundamental parts of the burpee that must happen for it to be classified as a burpee. And for me, I’ll add a third.
- Chest MUST hit the floor
- Feet MUST leave the ground (with arms overhead)
- A FULL pushup is required with the body completely parallel to the ground on the descent and ascent to/from step #1.
As I mentioned above, Step #3 seems to be optional – but in my world it must exist for it to count as a burpee.
But why do I love them so much? Just what is it about these most-hated of all exercises that brings a tear to my eye? All my reasons would bore you to tears, so I’ll just start with a few of my favorites (in no particular order) and share more in the months and years ahead as they seem appropriate.
1. Burpees are a full-body exercise
There are a lot of exercises out there that isolate a specific part of your body. Yes, I still do a bit of lifting to strengthen those muscles, but burpees will work out a ton of muscles at once; I liken it to how deadlifts engage such a large number of muscles. But anyone that has done a few burpees understands that you workout the arms, chest, glutes, quads, calves, core and MORE – all from one fluid motion. If you’re lacking time and want to get the most return for your time, a few burpees will give you the most bang for your buck!
2. Burpees build strength
Tied in with the first reason above, you will build strength from doing burpees. As you continue in your quest for 100+ burpees per day you’ll notice that you’re slowly building your chest and other muscles each week as you continue. Those muscles will thank you from your brute determination – and your results in your races will thank you when you are able to pull yourself over walls, climb ropes and carry logs/buckets of sand/sandbags uphill both ways.
3. Burpees involve a lot of cardio
This is definitely one of my favorite reasons. I love to burn calories and am perhaps a bit addicted to see them rack up on my Polar M400 GPS watch. Everyone knows that running is at the top for burning calories at an average of 100 calories per mile (depending on weight, intensity, etc). But burpees are truly a close second – or tied in my book – as working through a few sets of 30-50 burpees will quickly get the heart rate up and ramp up your calories burned in almost no time.
4. Burpees increase your endurance
As I continue to kill set after set of burpees, I can tell that I’m becoming a bit stronger and growing in my endurance. And yes, ultimately this endurance is helping my running – and my running is helping my endurance to do even more burpees. What a lot of people don’t realize is that it takes time for the heart to grow resulting in pumping more blood with each pump (which is why your heart rate goes down the more you exercise). And sets of burpees – like miles of running – will help you build that endurance just a little bit more and help you in your fitness goals – one day at a time.
5. Burpees are a great test of your fitness
I love how the Spartan Fitness test understand that Dr. Burpee designed the burpee to test a person’s fitness level. And then, I love how Spartan has additionally developed their own fitness test to match your fitness against your readiness for each of their different races. Each Monday I take this fitness test (after running four miles) to see how far I’ve progressed. And each week I enjoy seeing how much closer I am to my goals!
6. Burpees don’t require special equipment
If you notice in the image at the top of this post, I’m doing burpees in our main living area – right next to my baby son’s walker and a few miscellaneous items that were left out the night before. I’m not at a gym. I’m not out on the trail. But I’m right at home at 5:30 in the morning knocking out the burpees I love so much! Now don’t get me wrong – I love both the gym and the trail – but every time I hear someone’s excuse that they can’t get in shape because they don’t have a gym membership or access to a beautiful trail I remind them of the burpee and how integral they can be for their fitness success!
7. Burpees are sheer fun!
Finally I just can’t leave this one out. Sure, burpees suck and you can get really, really tired after pumping out a number of sets – don’t get me wrong. But at the same time there’s just something cool about knowing you are getting stronger, faster and more fit every time you knock them out. And there’s honestly just something fun about the full-body exercise – something maybe that I just can’t explain – that brings a smile to my face even at the same time I grimace from the pain.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about just a few of the reasons that I LOVE my burpees. I’d love to hear any of the reasons that you love your burpees – or even hate them. Because at the end of the day, the reasons we love – or hate – the best exercise in the world are all probably for the same exact reasons.