• Par
  • Le 05/11/2013

By Ben Van Leeuwen

The burpee - developed by renowned Eastern Bloc gymnastics coach Vladimir Burpee - has long struck fear in the hearts of all those who have heard the cry “drop down and give me 20”, only to rise back up feeling the pain and getting ready to run to the bathroom with a mouth full of last night’s dinner.

The burpee can be performed anywhere and at any time making it the go-to exercise for sadistic trainers the world over.

Now before I go any further, I must confess, I do tell a lie. As far as my knowledge goes there is no Vladimir Burpee and I do not know how this simple and effective exercise got such a strange name.

What I DO know is that the burpee burns energy like nothing else holding the mantle as the king of body weight fat burning exercises. 

I also know that they are being butchered and misapplied in local parks and gyms all around Australia and could be potentially bringing you closer to an injury rather than the sexy, firm and sculpted body that you are after.

This article will show you the safest and most effective ways to perform and progress the burpee as well as some basic programming tips, so that ALL of you can benefit from this killer exercise coming into summer.

Bench Burpees

For the same reason we wouldn’t let a novice pump out push ups from the floor right away before building the appropriate strength, the burpee is no different.

In fact, even with a new client with a decent training background, I would rarely ask a client to go straight to the floor right away, before they develop the right amount of hip flexor length/strength and core control.

  • Reason 1 - You should start with bench burpees, it requires less hip mobility and you perform the exercise in a more upright position. Less demand on hip mobility, means less chance of falling into lumbar flexion to make up for the lack of flexibility in the hip, which is murder for the lower back.
  • Reason 2 - Less Lactic Acid

Let’s face it burpees are hard. Whenever you use multiple muscle and joints through multiple plains of movement in the one exercise you’re going to build some fatigue. So now you have two options:

1. Slowly work up to burpees, or

2. Make them easier

Whichever you go with is fine but please do not fall into category three:

3. Perform multiple reps of advanced burpees while out of shape, then wonder why you hurt your back and vomited everywhere in the studio.

Got it? Good. Moving on...

You will still get a training effect from a knee high bench, so don’t be afraid to air on the side of caution.