How to Do Burpees: And Why You Should Do Them!
I never thought I would see the day when there would be a World Burpee Day, but it happened. Thank you to Reebok who launched the inaugural World Burpee Day on Saturday, October 12, 2019. For us at B Fit, it’s burpee challenge month, and this is the second time the burpee challenge has come to B Fit.
Burpees are an amazingly effective compound move that works just about everything. The burpee is great for increasing strength, endurance, and stamina. Don’t think you can do an actual burpee? Have no fear! I created a video showing a couple of ways to perform modified burpees. Here’s the link.
The burpee challenge came back to B Fit in October for a couple of reasons. Because the burpee works all the muscles of the body in a compound movement, plus they burn fat, I thought this would be the perfect pre-food season challenge to complete. We are also heading into a new training program in November to get ready for the Frost or Fog this January. More on that a little later.
Burpees for Running
I remember a couple of years back when we did the burpee challenge at B Fit in May. I had signed up to run a half marathon in higher elevation in June. I was disappointed in myself for not getting all my mileage in and felt unprepared going into the peak week right before the race. I probably only completed one 9-mile training run over the course of the 10 weeks I had been training. The week of the race I realized there was nothing that I could do. I had to stay the course (literally) and do what I could do to make through what was sure to be a grueling 13.1 miles at 2,500 feet and higher. Ugh!
The race starting line was cold, we were in the mountains, and the race start was delayed for whatever reason more than a half an hour. This was a brutal start since I had already warmed up and felt like I was basically wasting that warm-up. Finally, we started. The first couple of miles were as expected. There was a slight elevation gain, and we were running on fire roads. The roads were rocky and uneven.
Heading into the race, I made the decision that I needed to just go out and do what I could do and have fun. After all, I had only completed one measly little 9-mile training run when I should have done at least a 14-mile training run for this race. Oh, well, just keep running. Of course, the competitor in me knew in the back of my mind that this wasn’t possible. There wasn’t a lot of racers but enough where I could pinpoint who was my competition and had to keep in my eyesight as we progressed.
I pushed as much as I could within the first three or so miles, all while watching in front of me to see where the two or three other female runners were pacing. As I mentioned we were running on fire roads. Did I mention we were running uphill? I knew I needed to keep close to the front runners but not push myself that I could not maintain after nine miles. After all, that was the extent of my training runs.
Just before the halfway point, I could visually see the giant hill that we would ascend before the turnaround point. I blew through the aid station, took a deep breath, and told myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, all the way up the hill. There was still at least one more female runner in front of me. I could see her in the short distance between her and me. This was a long hill. Was I tired? Not yet. I kept checking in with myself to see if I could do it. I could!
Slowly but surely, one foot in front of the other, breathing becoming more labored (thank you elevation), I began to close the short distance between the leader and myself. Then, I could hear her breathing. She was clearly in a worse position than I was feeling. “Just keep pushing,” I told myself. “You can do this.” Step by step, I gained, and then I passed and kept going. After passing, there was no turning back. I pushed a little bit harder to finish the climb, which felt like it would never end. Finally, I could see the turnaround volunteers cheering me on. Luckily, I was not doing the 50k, which meant I would keep running straight. No thanks! I waved at them as I happily began the descent.
Was I really in first place at this point? Nope, couldn’t think about that right now. Gotta stay the course and maintain the current strategy – create more distance between the runner you just passed. It was awhile before I saw any other runners climbing. I really put the hammer down running up the hill. Thank you, BURPEES! At this point, I knew that the strength and stamina I was experiencing in my legs and cardiovascular fitness was a direct result of the previous month’s burpee challenge.
In the week prior to this race, I had completed 85, 90, 95, and 100 burpees on the previous days leading up to the race. Yes! I did 370 burpees in one week. Some people call me crazy, others call me masochist, but the results are clear. Keep reading, I will finish the story of the race.
Heading down the hill was lonely. I saw the few runners – guys and the solo female runner I had been chasing – as I went downhill. I cheered them on with a “Good job! You got this!” and kept going. I saw a car heading up the hill; I knew someone in the car. He leaned his head out the window and said, “You’re the first female runner.” Woo Hoo! Just keep going.
It was important for me to stay focused and not relax too much after hearing this news. I was ecstatic. I have never been number one. I had never led in a race as big as this one. Finally, the road leveled out, and my legs began to tell the real story. If you have ever run hills, you know that running downhill is often harder on the legs than running uphill. The process of keeping your body upright and softening the blow of each leg hitting the pavement in the downward motion requires more strength than running on flat. My legs were tired! I downed a GU and kept going. Where is the finish line?
Long story, but eventually the end was in sight. I kicked it up as much as I had left. It was an awesome finish and my first overall half marathon win. I was approached by the runner I passed after she finished to join her relay team later in the year. What a blessing!
Burpees for Training
Burpees should be added to your strength and endurance training. They are just-about the perfect move. Hate me if you want, but it’s true. We added the burpee challenge to our workouts at the beginning of the year. Happy New Year! There was plenty of groaning, but here is the point. For someone who could barely do a pushup heading into the challenge, this same individual was able to knock out 100 pushups with 100 burpees at the end of the challenge. Wow! Way to go!
Burpees work the legs, the upper body, the core, and overall stamina. They burn approximately 10 calories per minute when you do them. Why wouldn’t you want to do them? Your legs will get stronger. Your upper body can demonstrate a perfect pushup when the challenge is over. Your mid-section will be flatter. In short, it truly is the perfect move.
You can start the challenge today. Start with just five burpees at a time. Then, add on five more. Soon, you will be all caught up and stronger than ever. Share your experiences with the burpee challenge – good and bad. It’s okay if you hate me for the moment you are doing your burpee challenge. Most people do. LOL!
Just remember what awaits you on the other side of the challenge. A stronger body! A healthier you! A feeling of accomplishment. Just remember “One foot in front of the other.” You can finish on top.
How to do a Burpee
The burpee is a multi-functional, compound movement. There’s a lot going on with the burpee. Here is how to perform a burpee.
Start standing tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Jump straight up raising your hands over your head. When you come down, place your hands inside your feet and thrust your feet back into a plank. Do a pushup. You can do a modified pushup on your knees. Thrust your feet back up as far as you can, hopefully just outside your hands again. Stand up tall and do another jump. Congratulations, you just did a burpee.
Staying Motivated to do Burpees
There are very few people who love/like to do burpees. In fact, most of my clients moan and groan when I just mention the word. It’s hard to stay motivated when it feels like you might die in the middle of the set. Trust me, you can make it through the set. There really is no secret to doing burpees, except to just do them. Do them one at a time. Before you know it, the set will be done, you will be stronger, and most importantly, you will be happy you did them. Even if it means you curse my name several times in the middle! ;)