When an exercise becomes a CrossFit staple, it means two things: 1) The move is an effective test of both strength and conditioning, and 2) enough crossfitters struggle with it that it’s sure to increase the intensity of just about any workout.
Burpees are one of the most notorious CrossFit staples because they fit this bill: Even dyed-in-the- wool CrossFitters are wary when they see them in a workout. This dynamic movement tests your strength, muscular endurance, and coordination, and taxes your chest, tris, quads, core, and hip flexors.
There are a few different approaches to burpees, but the CF standard form is: 1) Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. 2) Drop into a squat, driving your hips back and down while reaching for the ground in front of you with your arms. 3) Transfer your weight to your hands, kick your feet back, and land in the top of a pushup position. 4) Immediately bring your feet back under you— ideally you can shoot your feet up in between your hands, with your legs almost extended. Jump vertically to finish the movement, then immediately begin the next rep.
DO A FEW AT A MODERATE PACE TO GET COMFORTABLE. THEN STEP ON THE GAS.
The more burpees you can do in a shorter period of time, the higher you’ll jack up your heart rate, and the more fat you’ll burn.
You’ll often see burpees programmed in WODs with a ton of reps in a row. I like to use them in a couplet; for example, a seven- minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of 5 power cleans at 135, plus 10 burpees.
You can also directly combine burpees with other movements— for example, burpee box jumps or burpee pull-ups.
Try throwing burpees into your normal routine. For example, put a set of burpees in between regular lifts, to build muscle endurance.
If you’re traveling and don’t have access to a gym, you can always hit 100 burpees for time in your hotel room for a quick workout that provides results.
BY NATE FORSTER