How to do a perfect burpee, every time

We’ve all heard how important burpees are for core strength, stamina and to lose fat but what’s the best way to do a burpee? Over the years we’ve heard so many variations on how to do a burpee and while some of them are correct most of them aren’t. This is why we decided to write this article about how to not only do the perfect burpee but how to do it every time.

There are a number of different types of burpee but they’re all of them are variations on the standard burpee or thrust squat. Each set of burpees is a repetition of the same type, how many times you repeat it is up to you and your fitness level. To get any real benefit though you want to repeat it at least 5 to 10 times.

  • Start by squatting on the floor with your hands flat on the ground just in front of your feet.
  • Next jump both of your feet back at the same time towards the plank position.
  • Continue to a push up with your chest touching the floor.
  • From that position push back to the plank.
  • In one movement jump your feet back to your starting position.
  • Lastly jump forcefully into the air with your arms stretched as high above your head as possible.

So how do I make sure I get it right every time?

As you tire it gets more difficult to perform a burpee the same way every time. The key to always getting it right is to not do too many, to take your time and pay attention to your breathing. That doesn’t mean do one and then stop, what we mean is don’t just think you can do 20 and then rush through them as quickly as you can. When you’re starting to tire it’s even more important to think about every move you’re making. At the same time it’s as important to concentrate on your breathing. If you focus on every breath you do you’ll find that your burpees will flow better and it’ll become much easier to keep them consistent. Take deep breaths in and exhale as you transition through the stages. For example as you squat at the start take a deep breath in, then as you jump your feet back exhale. This will help with the flow but focusing on this will also help your concentration.

What actually is a burpee?

Also known as a thrust squat, burpees take their name from the American psychologist, Royal H. Burpee, who invented the burpee test. As part of his Ph.D. thesis in applied physiology he developed the burpee as a quick and easy way to gauge fitness. A succession of rapid exercises, the test was designed to be a quick way to gauge somebodies agility, coordination and strength. It wasn’t until the onset of World War II though that the burpee test became popular as the United States Armed Services adopted it to assess the level of fitness of new recruits. Since then burpees have changed very little and are now a very popular way to improve strength as well as to aid weight loss and build tone.

What are burpees good for?

Known as a core exercise (one that helps to improve the strength of your core muscles) burpees are considered ultimate test of fitness. They’re classed as a full body exercise because they work pretty much every aspect of your body from your arms through your body to your legs. The repetition of them will also help to improve your stamina which makes them excellent as part of your high-intensity interval training. Unlike a lot of exercises burpees don’t fall into any one group, they’re extremely versatile and can be used in any workout plan regardless of your goal. That said they burn an awful lot of calories so are very good if you’re looking to lose weight and tone your body. Another added benefit of burpees is that you don’t need any special equipment and they can pretty much be done anywhere.

What other exercises should I do with burpees?

A hula-hoop can help improve your core balance

While burpees are a complete exercise in themselves they’re often combined with other things such as crunches and planks for core strength, sprint bursts for HIIT or deadlifts for strength. As you can see what other exercises your doing your burpees with is down to you and your ultimate goal but we’ve listed a few things they could be combined with depending on your goal:

  • Weight loss – The idea with weight loss is to not only lose the weight but to turn weight into muscle and build tone. For this we would recommend combining burpees with other high-intensity interval training exercises such as sprint burst (whether that’s bursts of running or cycling is up to you).
  • Core Strength – Other exercises for core strength would things like planking and crunches, both of which will work on your core muscles. An exercise that’s often over looked with regards to the core is hula-hooping! People assume that it’s a Child’s toy that doesn’t belong in the gym but that couldn’t be more wrong. The hula-hoop improves your balance too because you’re constantly trying to stop it from falling.
  • Stamina – Much the same as weight lose we’d recommend doing burpees as part of your HIIT workout plan but increasing the number you do along with the types of burpee you’re doing.
  • Strength – If you’re trying to improve your overall strength we would suggest doing burpees with some lifts, rows and presses. They’re all perfect companions for burpees when you’re looking to increase strength but we would also throw in a few box-jump burpees and parkour burpees. These variations on the normal burpee really push you, especially after a few repetitions, so are great to add to the mix.

Can I do burpees if I have a bad back?

There are so many reasons for somebody having back pain that there are no hard and fast rules as to whether you should or shouldn’t do burpees with back pain. That said burpees work your lower back muscles (along with others) so can aggravate any pain you may have. That combined with the explosive jumping can cause back pain if your surrounding muscles are already weak.

So I have issues with my back what should I do instead? Instead of burpees why not a few minutes on an elliptical trainer or treadmill. You’ll be surprised how effective this is, especially when done at speed.

What are the different burpees?

Each type of burpee is a variation on the normal or squat thrust burpee, but some are more extreme than others.

Leg Push-Up Burpee
  • Leg Push-Up Burpee – Before performing a push-up raise one leg around 6 inches off of the ground while keeping your back straight. Continue to perform the push-up with your leg still raised then lower the leg and continue the move. Repeat the whole burpee with the other leg.
  • Box Jump Burpee – The challenge of this burpee is that instead of jumping into the air with you arms stretched you jump on to a box then jump off again and continue the move. If you want to make this even more difficult you could try either the Jump Over Burpee where instead of jumping on the box you jump over it, or the Parkour Burpee where before jumping off of the box you perform another burpee then jump off.
  • Broad jump – Also known as a long jump burpee, it’s similar to the box jump but instead of jumping on and then off of a box you jump forward. Like the box jump is helps improve your core balance but also strengthens your legs.
  • Push-up  Burpee – This combines the burpee and plank together, instead of starting from a squat you start from an extended plank then transition to a burpee before returning to the extended plank. After doing a few of these it’s easy to understand why this has the nickname of bastardo burpee.
  • CrossFit Burpee – Sometimes known as a four count burpee, a tricep push-up is performed at the start and end of the burpee. Another variation of this is the CrossFit Speed which is the same but performed as quickly as possible.
  • Dumbbell Burpee – This is pretty much a regular normal burpee but it’s made more difficult by the addition to dumbbells which are held in each hand through the entire burpee.
  • Double Burpee – After the plank step two push-ups are performed, the reason for this is it takes your momentum out of the burpee and therefore when you jump it’s not only more difficult but is using pure strength and muscle rather than the driving power of your movement.
  • Star Jump Burpee – As part of the last step of the burpee instead of jumping straight up you perform a star jump then return to the start.
  • Superman Burpee – Called the Superman Burpee because after the plank you lay flat on the floor with your back arched and your arms and legs stretched out in front of you as much as possible (similar to Superman flying) before returning to the plank and carrying on with the rest of the burpee.
  • Mountain Climber Burpee – At the top of the push-up step bring one leg up then the other, as if you’re climbing a mountain. Do this twice before carrying on with there rest of the burpee.
  • Renegade Row Burpee – This can be performed with or without dumbbells but the idea is that after the push-up stage you raise one hand off the ground and row it back, making sure your elbow doesn’t go above your back and that your shoulder blade moves towards your spine. Then continue with the rest of the burpee before performing it again with the other hand.
  • Rotational Jump Burpee – This is almost identical to a normal burpee but instead of just jumping up you rotate your body 180 degrees as you jump, then when you perform the next burpee rate you body in the opposite direct to finish the same way you started.
  • Side Plank Burpee – As you complete the push-up raise one hand and rotate your body to side plank. Lift your hand as much as you can to create a T shape before returning to the push-up and doing the same with the other arm then continue with the rest of the burpee.
  • Pike Push-Up Burpee – When you reach the top of the push-up instead of returning to the plank bring your hips up towards the ceiling and keep your back straight to form an upside down V before carrying on with the normal burpee.
Pike Push-Up Burpee

Conclusion

As you can see the burpee can be a complete workout all on it’s own or used in conjunction with other exercises. It’s an excellent full body workout and is versatile enough to be used in pretty much any workout regimen regardless of your end goal. If you’re interested in learning more about other exercises such as the plank or crunch look out for articles on those in the future.