Burpees Are the Medicine You Need
Sometimes, you just need to go ahead and do the sucky thing: Tell people the news they don’t want to hear. Make the tough decision. Put that beloved toy that sings the creepy song out on the sidewalk while your toddler is napping.
Blast the death metal and do the goddamn burpees.
Hear me out: Yes, burpees suck, but if you’re physically able to do them (and willing to get sweaty and exhausted), they are also… the best. When you get into a rhythm of slamming yourself down on the floor and getting right back TF up again, the intensity is oddly cathartic. If you do enough of them, it takes absolutely every ounce of energy and strength out of you and leaves you panting on the floor like a wrung-out washcloth. Which is fun! You know you’ve done the absolute most right when doing the most is exactly the goal. I’m not talking about using intense exercise in a punitive way, to be clear; just that going all out and giving it everything you’ve got can really feel fantastic.
From a more pragmatic perspective, burpees are simply one of the most efficient, straightforward, full-body moves that engage basically every possible muscle while also challenging your heart and lungs. Because burpees involve moving from the floor all the way up into the air, the resistance of your own bodyweight is what makes them so freaking hard (and good). You can use them as part of your warmup to get blood flowing before you lift weights, or work them into a brief, high-intensity interval workout and get the same cardiovascular benefits that you’d get from a much, much longer steady-state cardio session. Or throw them in at the end as a kick-your-own-ass finisher to your workout.
Here’s what to do:
Begin standing. Hinge at the waist to bring your hands to the floor, just outside your feet. Hop your feet backward into a plank position. Hop them back up between your hands, then explosively jump straight up into the air, reaching your hands overhead.
Make it harder by adding a pushup when you reach the plank position and by moving as quickly as possible between positions.
Make it easier by stepping instead of hopping into and out of the plank, skipping the pushup, and/or skipping the upright jump.
To learn more about using burpees as part of a brief but effective HIIT workout (and why it works), check out this story:
3 Doctor-Designed Workouts Anyone Can Do
Effective exercise ‘prescriptions’ that take 20 minutes or less
As Elemental’s executive editor and an ACE-certified personal trainer, I’m suggesting a simple move each Monday to start your week on the right foot. Have a great one, and see you next week.