Getting Started with Endurance Training: The Burpee


We all know that cardio plays an important role in maintaining overall health and fitness. Whilst the traditional means of running, swimming and biking can certainly get the job done, they’re not always the most exciting or effective ways to get the blood pumping and fat burning. Sometimes it’s nice to mix things up a little.

Today we’re going to take a look at what many consider to be the king of all bodyweight endurance exercises – the infamous burpee. More specifically, we’ll be looking at how you can use the burpee in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to help you reach your health and fitness goals.

Let’s take a look:

The Burpee – How to Do It

The burpee is essentially a combination of the squat, plank, pushup, and vertical jump. It may sound pretty simple, but after a few reps you might change your mind…

1. Start standing with your feet shoulders width apart and back flat (in a neutral position).

2.Lower down to a deep squat. If possible, keep your back straight and feet flat to the floor (pointing forwards).

3. Kick your feet back and place your hands on floor, shoulders width apart, to the plank position. Keep your back flat by engaging your core and glutes.

4. Perform a pushup, keeping your elbows tight to your body and head facing downwards.

5. Jump your feet back towards your hands to enter a low squat position again.

6. Jump up into the air by driving your knees outward, screwing your feet into the floor, and shooting your arms overhead.

7. Land back in a neutral stance, the same as the starting position.

The burpee can be made more difficult by adding a weighted vest or performing the pushup/plank with only one leg touching the floor.To make it easier, you can forgo the pushup.

If you’re just starting out with exercise you may need to work on the individual components in your strength training sessions, prior to attempting the burpee – the plank, pushup, squat and vertical jump.

Burpee Benefits

As you’ll probably find out the day after your first training session, the burpee is a whole body movement, activating big muscle groups like the glutes, hamstrings and pecs. It also helps to build core strength, and will test your mobility and stability.

These are all useful factors that contribute towards real world, functional strength.

We’ll be using the burpee in a HIIT/tabata style workout, which has been shown to help build both anaerobic and aerobic fitness, compared to long durations, steady state training (like jogging) that predominantly benefits the aerobic system.

In other words – short, intense burpee sessions can improve your ability to go fast, and go far. It also helps you to maintain lean muscle mass, and allows you to get more work done in a shorter timeframe. Win win.

The Tabata Burpee Workout

The Tabata protocol involves 8 rounds of work – with 20 seconds of maximal effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. The key phrase is maximal effort. Although it’s only a 4 minute workout, it should leave you feeling completely exhausted, and will keep your metabolism fired up for several hours after.

Make sure to warm up properly to reduce your risk of injury, and cool down to help the body come back to a resting state. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t overdo this type of training, as it places a fair bit of stress on the central nervous system. Start with once or twice a week, and consider adding in a third session if your body is ready for it.

All in all, the burpee is a movement that you should definitely have in your training arsenal if you’re looking to improve your cardio, drop a few pounds, or build functional strength.

Get out there and give it a go!

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