Shape it: Burpees

Burpees are not something that I used to include in my regular workouts at all. I probably would have never come to know this awesome exercise along with its many variations, had it not been for my friend and burpee queen Mariela Burkett.

Burkett, a personal trainer and fitness instructor in the lovely city of Mississauga (my home town), is so committed to burpees that, that since last November, she has completed more than 8,000 burpees, as part of her buck-a-burpee campaign, with proceeds going towards cancer research.

Her goal was simple: to raise $10,000 by doing one burpee for every dollar donated.

Her social media videos showing her doing burpees got me thinking, “Well, why haven’t I tried these?” And so, the quest towards becoming a burpee warrior began.

My journey towards burpee domination started by being nominated by Burkett to film myself doing 10 burpees as part of her campaign. I wanted to make sure this video would be top notch, as you never know who could be watching.

As I went about researching all different sorts of variations of burpees, I found myself becoming more intrigued by this challenging exercise. Now I am going to share my knowledge with you.

Before going into the details of different burpees, let’s take a look at the primary muscle groups involved: quadriceps, core, glutes, arms, chest – in other words, everything. Advocates consider them a great way to keep fit, because they help burn fat by keeping your heart rate up.

They also help with body-toning by using your own body weight while tackling each muscle group.

A standard burpee is quite simple. Start out standing, feet shoulder-width apart, shoulders squared. Jump up and raise your arms towards the air. When you land, put your hands on the ground slightly wider apart than your feet and lean into them as you kick your feet behind you.

Transition into a pushup position – your chest should be lightly touching the ground. Then quickly use your legs to jump towards your hands (a squat jump) and then jump back up to standing position. Do this as soon as your chest touches the ground.

Start out doing 10, and see how far you can go. Now – time to add some fun.

For the slightly more advanced fitness lovers, try doing double burpees. Each motion is done twice – but that counts as one burpee.

If you are looking to give yourself a serious butt tone, go for lunge burpees. Do a standard burpee; at the end, add a lunge, quickly jump to switch legs. Try doing 20 in a row and you will feel that booty burn.

If your game plan is to make your core work extra hard, give Superman burpees a try. They start out like a complete a standard one. Except, when you bring your chest to the floor, extend your arms forward, but don’t let your arms or legs touch the floor.

You should pretty much look like you are flying like Superman.

One of my favourite ways to incorporate burpees into a workout is something I like to call boxer burpees – and Burkett’s cardio kickboxing classes inspired the boxing component.

The punching combo goes like this: jab, hook, uppercut, kidney shot, drop to the ground and spring up in a ninja jump. This is a jump where you bring your knees up as high as you can, like a ninja jumping roof tops.

Sounds hard? You can do it. Channel your inner ninja. They are great because they can be done in any season, indoors or out.

If you are new to the world of burpees, Burkett offers these wise words: “Stick it out! This exercise will soon become your favourite. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!”

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