Whoever said, “It never gets easier, you just get stronger” had it half right.
Burpees, a fundamental bodyweight exercise in Crossfit, strong or not, never seem to get much easier.
Burpees are like the perfect storm.
They require a great deal of strength, coordination and balance.
And to do a lot of them quickly, like you might in a CrossFit workout, you better also hope you’re quite fit.
Go ahead, rep out 10-15 burpees at full speed and you’ll see what I mean.
In this short guide, we’ll take a look at why burpees are hard, how to do them, and the standards CrossFitters should hold themselves to when adding them to a workout.
Why Are Burpees So Hard?
Burpees are difficult because they force your entire body to work hard through the movement.
Getting on the floor, doing a push-up, to getting back up, and jumping with a clap overhead works all the major muscle groups: legs, shoulders, arms, chest, back.
Your core supports your efforts throughout the entire movement.
As such, burpees deplete your major muscle groups of oxygenated blood, elevating your heart rate and increasing your breathing rate.
Whether it’s an all out set of 10-15 or 100 burpees at a slower pace for time, you’re bound to find yourself breathing heavily after you do the first big set.
Benefits Of Burpees
Burpees are a compound movement requiring muscular strength and endurance, coordination, power, and cardiovascular fitness simultaneously.
If you struggle with push-ups, burpees are a good accessory movement for building up a base. Expect stronger chest muscles and improved cardio from adding burpees to your training.
How To Do A Burpee
Here’s how to do a burpee:
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
- Push your hips back, bend your knees, and bring your hands to the floor
- Jump back into the top of a push-up position
- Complete a push-up
- Jump your feet towards your hands. Have them land slightly wider so they have to travel a slightly shorter distance.
- Extend your hips back to a standing position. At the same time, jump and clap your hands above your head.
CrossFit Burpee Standards
In CrossFit, there are a few keys to doing a burpee right each time. They are:
- When you go to the ground, your chest and thighs must make contact with the floor.
- Your feet must come back up together. This is a newer standard, as it used to be permissible to step up with one foot at a time. As a beginner, you can still do this, but higher level athletes should stick to jumping back up with their feet together.
- Extend your hips fully and jump and clap overhead. Each rep ends with you standing up fully. Your body should not look like an “L” at the conclusion of the burpee as a shortcut to the next one.
CrossFit Burpees For Beginners
Here are a few keys for getting good at burpees if you are new to CrossFit:
- “Worm” your way up– A common misconception is that a CrossFit burpee has to have a full push-up. If you watch even top level CrossFitters, almost all of them use the “worm” method, where the hips sit below the chest for a brief moment before they jump their feet back to their hands.
- Modify your push-up– If you don’t yet have the strength to complete a push-up from the floor, don’t hesitate to perform the push-up from a bench, a box, or even a wall.
- Don’t get discouraged– It’s okay to be completely gassed after doing a set of 5 burpees. Seriously, ask any CrossFit athlete how their first burpee workout went. Just keep building up slowly over time and you’ll improve.
How To Do A Burpee- Conclusion
Burpees are a fundamental bodyweight movement to CrossFit. Whether you consider yourself a CrossFitter or not, they will increase your fitness, coordination, and upper body strength.
As a beginner, you can modify burpees to make them easier by either “worming” or modifying the push-up angle.
The key? Build up slowly. No matter where you start from, burpees are always going to be a challenge. That’s what makes them a great tool for improving your fitness.