For the love of burpees: 4 variations to get you started



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Behold the exercise that we all love to hate — the burpee. It's intense. It's effective. It works.

That’s why so many personal trainers across the country are forcing us to do them. “Burpees just torch calories,” says Meghan Bedwell, the senior fitness manager at Gold’s Gym in Birmingham, Alabama. “They encompass not only cardiovascular endurance, but agility, balance and coordination. And you’re also having to use your body strength to propel you in the movement. It’s kind of a one-stop-shop for exercising.”

Bedwell says burpees can be added to any basic strength-training program to take your heart rate up a notch. “They’re great for high-intensity interval training,” she says. “So if you’re doing a basic strength training routine and you want to really increase your heart rate on a dime, you could do a set of squats and then turn around and do five to 10 burpees. You take a basic strength-training routine and turn it into an interval workout just by utilizing the burpee.”

Below are four short videos with Lewis Sanders, a trainer at Gold’s Gym in Birmingham, demonstrating a few variations of the burpee for people of different fitness levels. Bedwell cautions that what she calls “a severally deconditioned individual” — someone who hasn’t been to the gym in a couple of years — should not start off with burpees. In addition, anyone with shoulder issues should avoid them.


1. The Beginner Burpee

This variation uses a riser so you don’t have to come all the way to the ground and back up again.


2. The Regular Burpee

This is the burpee most trainers will start you off with that brings you down to the ground and ends with a jump.


3. The Push-up Burpee

More advanced than the regular, instead of simply coming down to the ground, you engage your arms and shoulders in a push-up during the move.


4. The Full-Range Burpee

This is the nonstop, throw-yourself-into-it burpee that extremely fit people and athletes do.