Yola's back to basics: Burpees

Fit & Training door thijs

Let’s talk about the famous and probably most hated exercise there is: the burpee. This is an exercise that is well known in CrossFit but is used in many other workout programs as well. There are millions of variations on the burpee that go from low-intensity to holy-shit-I’m-dying-intensity. But what does a proper burpee look like? And how can you make it more or less intense?


Burpees are known as a compound exercise which means you train multiple muscle groups in your body at the same time. It’s a really demanding bodyweight movement. Most of all you use your legs containing hamstrings, glutes and calfs. But when you do a proper burpee (including the push up) you also need your core, chest, triceps and shoulders. No muscles are left behind!

How to
First of all burpees are a great exercise when you don't have and/or want to use any equipment but you do want an intense workout. Burpees get your heart rate up in no-time and can give you some serious muscle soreness for sure. A burpee isn’t that hard, you just have to follow some steps. Six to be precise:

1. You start by standing up straight with your arms next to your body. Now bend over, squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you
2. Kick your feet back so that you’ll end up in a plank position
3. Exactly, now we drop to a push up. Remember to keep your core tight!
4. Push yourself up back into the plank position
5. When you did your pushup kick your feet back in towards your hands
6. Explosively jump up in the air, arms reaching straight overhead

On the first three burpees you think: “Oh, this is nice. I can do 50 of them”. At number 10 you think: “F*ck this, I’m never doing these again”. But after all we know you love burpees because they make an awesome workout and you can do them everywhere and at anytime.

✓ Take good care of your burpees. Don’t speed them up too much. It will only make you look like an idiot that fell down and stood back up again. Keep in control of your burpee, don’t let it control you.

✓ Always keep your core contracted while jumping up, going back down and doing the push up.

✓ Try to find a steady pace that works for you and the type of workout. So if you only have to do 10 burpees, you can go a little faster. But if you’re doing 50 burpees, go slower so you can maintain a consistent pace. Always remember: form over speed!

✓ When you think you can’t do any more burpees, scream out loud and do 5 more. You can do this for sure!

✓ Try to combine burpees in a workout with other compound exercises like squats, lunges, situps , jumping jacks and crunches. You just can’t do burpees all the time. It will be too exhausting and you will get bored really soon. Don’t believe me? Just try to do burpees for only five minutes in a row... Now we can talk!

Absolute don’ts
✗ Don’t stop halfway, only stop when you are done. Resting in between will only make it harder to get going again.

✗ Don’t hold your breath! Find a rhythm for your breathing while doing burpees. Get in that robot-mode and keep moving and focusing on one movement at a time instead of how many there are left.

✗ If you can’t perform burpees anymore, don’t arch your back. Just modify the movement by leaving out the pushup or the jump and keep going steady.

When you are a beginner and you want to do burpees you can do them without the jumping and/or pushup part. Just stand up, come down, jump back, (push up), jump back in and stand back up.  If you can't make a full push-up yet you can do one on your knees as an alternative.

You can also try the jumpee. This is a burpee with a jump to  the left, right, front or back. For example you can set goals from starting at a wall and jumpee to the other end of it. Of if you are outside you can jumpee in between trees.

If you want to challenge yourself you can try the #FITGIRLCODE 30 day burpee challenge, with looooots of burpees. Soreness guaranteed! And always keep in mind: when life knocks you down, do a burpee! Or 10!