Burpees, a very good bodybuilding exercise


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The burpees are a common exercise in crossfit WODs. Many athletes also incorporate this intense movement sequence into their training at the sports hall. But what is the use of burpees? Is this fitness exercise so important for muscle development? And how do you do burpees correctly? That's what we'll find out in this article.

What are burpees?

Burpees are a sport exercise to high intensity that could be described as polyarticular. Indeed, the burpee solicits the muscles of the whole body (upper and lower body).

Burpees were invented by Royal Huddleston Burpee, an American physiologist. He developed this physical preparation exercise as part of his applied physiology thesis presented in the early 1940s at the prestigious Columbia University in New York.

Originally, Royal Huddleston Burpee imagined burpees as a way to evaluate the physical condition of individuals. But soon, the U.S. Army took over this exercise to test the abilities of its future recruits.

What are the benefits of burpees?

Today, burpees are sometimes present in the weight training programs. But they are most often found in crossfit programs aimed at increasing muscle mass or to promote the weight loss.

burpees muscles used

Burpees are based on a sequence of intensive repetitions. This helps the metabolic system to eliminate fat massThis is ideal for weight loss. In addition to burning fat, burpees are a cardio exercise that can improve the cardiovascular system.

Finally, this movement is particularly effective in firming all parts of the body and toning muscle fibers.

Specifically, the muscles worked by the burpees are mainly :

  • the quadriceps,
  • the buttocks,
  • the abdominal muscles,
  • pectoral muscles,
  • arms,
  • the shoulders.

It is therefore a complete bodybuilding exercise to burn calories. Apart from the back, most of the major muscle groups in the legs and upper body are involved in burpees.

When to do burpees?

You want to integrate burpees into your sport training ?

This exercise can be used as a warm-up for your weight training session. It can be done in the gym or at home if you prefer to train at home.

Burpees will allow you to efficiently warm up all muscle groups before your physical activity. There are many sports coaches and other physical trainers offer burpees for a complete warm-up.

This movement requires speed, flexibility and explosiveness. It will allow you to sculpt your body and your muscles as you train.

This exercise can also be added to your workout routine. Because of their intensity, burpees can increase your anabolic hormones (testosterone and growth hormone). This will play a positive role on the growth of your muscle volume. Placed in a circuit training, this exercise will help you gain muscle and eliminate body fat.

To enjoy the benefits of burpees, consider following a sports nutrition based on protein meals and supplements such as BCAAs or glutamine. Whether you want to lose weight or gain mass, this will help you reach your ideal weight.

How to do burpees?

The basic movement

Burpees are a full body exercise. Like HIIT, this movement can be very intense.

In practice, the exercise is divided into two phases. Each of these phases works specific muscles:

  • The phase when the athlete is on the ground: during this phase, the muscles trained are the deltoids, biceps, triceps, pectorals and abs;
  • The phase where the athlete gets up: during this phase, the muscles solicited are the glutes, the hamstrings, the quadriceps and the calves.

For perform burpeesStand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Prepare to do a squat which turns into a pump. This phase is actually a sequence of three movements:

  • Step 1: Stand in the starting position;
  • Step 2: Get into a squat position by bending your knees;
  • Step 3: Get into a pump position by throwing your legs back and placing your hands on the floor.

The second phase is the reverse of the first. After performing a push-up, return to the squat position. Next, straighten your legs, lift your chest and perform a jump with your arms stretched over your head. This is also a sequence of three movements:

  • Step 4: Return to the squat position with your hands still on the floor;
  • Step 5: Raise your torso, place your arms perpendicular to your body and unfold your legs;
  • Step 6: Do a jump with your arms straight and clapping your hands.

Performing a burpee correctly requires technique and coordination. If you are a beginner, don't hesitate to break down the different steps of the movement to better understand it.

The different variations of burpees

Sprawl burpees

how to do burpees properly
How to do sprawl burpees properly?

If your physical condition does not allow you to do several repetitions, this burpee variant will allow you to progress at your own pace. Sprawl burpees are less intense, but just as complete.

The movements are almost identical to a classic burpee. Just remove the step where you do a push-up. After the squat, move into a push-up position, but do not lower your torso to the floor. Immediately return to the squat position, then follow with a jumping jack.

Pull-up burpees

On the other hand, if you are already able to do 50 or 100 reps of burpees easily and would like to make your workout more challenging, you can opt for the burpee traction. However, you will need to have a drawbar. This bodybuilding equipment is, of course, available in fitness gyms. You can also buy one for your home workouts, or find one on a street workout area.

Again, the exercise is the same as for the burpees. The only change is that you will have to catch the bar and make a traction with your arms at the time to make your jump. This exercise is reserved for experienced athletes who are comfortable with intense exercises.

Other burpee alternatives

You can easily vary your way of training with fitness equipment.

For example, it is possible to use a weight bench. The exercise is simple. It consists in putting your hands on the bench to do your pump, instead of putting them on the ground. You then use the bench as a stair step to do your jump, before cushioning your landing with your feet on the ground. This variation will also help you train your hip muscles.

Many athletes use fitness accessories during their workouts to strengthen their muscles and improve their physical condition. The weighted vest is another way to make your burpees more challenging. With 10 or 20 extra pounds on you, performing this body weight exercise will be more demanding for your body.

Now it's time to practice!

How to improve at burpees?

For beginners, progress with burpees requires regular training. It is best to start with few repetitions and focus on quality.

On the first day, start by doing 10 to 20 burpees as fast as possible. Then, as you go, add 2 more burpees with each new workout until you reach 75 burpees. Once you've reached your goal, try to do those 75 burpees in less time, without sacrificing the quality of the movement.

And if you aspire to appear in the Guinness book, know that the The world record for burpees in 60 minutes is 951. It has been held since June 2021 by the Brazilian sportsman Cassiano Laureano.

Other athletes have gone even further by achieving burpees for 24 hours. England's Lee Ryan is currently the record holder after completing 10,110 reps in 2015.

The limits of burpees

However, some sports coaches have warned about the dangers of burpees. This is particularly the case of Michael Boyle, a famous American sports coach. According to him, the burpees can be dangerous for the sportsman and lead to injuries.

Burpees put a lot of pressure on the joints of the body, whether it is the wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees or ankles. Furthermore, poor execution of the movement (especially if you are a beginner) will increase this risk.

As a result, many professional trainers use burpees only to a limited extent. It's best to use strength training exercises that safely work the same muscle groups.


Because of their intensity, burpees are an effective exercise for burning calories and lose weight. For an optimal workout, it is of course essential to master the movement perfectly. However, be aware that burpees can lead to injury and should be incorporated into your training program sparingly.

Need a program with burpees?

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Other articles to read :

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Everything you need to know about time under tension to progress in bodybuilding

How to slim down your waist?

What is the TABATA method?

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