These are all terms that have been used to describe my love for burpees. But it may surprise you to know that when I first did them, I hated them. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t do “THEM,” I think I successfully did “ONE”… the hating part is correct. My lungs were burning, I felt like I was going to throw up and it was SO MUCH HARDER than it looked. So I stopped doing them until I decided I wanted to be a trainer, at which time I realized I should embrace this thing. And the rest is history.
My point is that I completely understand why burpees are not everyone’s favorite. They’re HARD! But as Tom Hanks said in “A League of Their Own” – “if it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
And here are just a few more reasons why they’re so great:
- They work EVERYTHING. They truly work your entire body from your shoulders on down to your calves.
- They improve your cardiovascular fitness. The simple act of going from the floor to a standing position is challenging enough! Now add a jump and throw some speed in there and you’ve got yourself a serious workout!
- They challenge your endurance. The Guinness Book of World Record holder did 1,840 in one hour! Thankfully, we don’t have to do nearly as many to get the benefits.
- They are super functional. Especially at this time of year in Wisconsin when ice is a hazard! I have had several falls in recent years that I’ve been able to get up and recover quickly from – thanks to essentially falling down and getting back up on purpose, over and over.
So while I accept that I may be a little loony in my burpee love, I promise we don’t use them as a torture device (remember: burpees are not punishment. They are a celebration of life).
If I had to give one tip for the burpee-shy:
Make like Moana and find burpee happiness right where you are. Work within your comfort level. Use props such as benches, bosus, equalizers; anything that elevates your upper body. Step back one foot at a time instead of jumping your feet back. Come to your tiptoes at the top rather than jumping. All of these options will still get you all the cardiovascular and strength benefits of burpees while lessening some of the impact.
Now that I’ve got you all fired up and excited, go ahead and give me a few… or at least embrace them a little the next time you encounter them in a workout.