Benefits of Burpees

Benefits of Burpees

Staff Writer
6 minute read

Benefits of Burpees

Chances are you have seen it on social media, in movies, on TV, or have had the chance of experiencing the wind-taking, chest-burning sensation of a long set of burpees on your own. 

Well if you are wondering why we have to do it, or who came up with this simple and leg-weakening exercise you’re in luck. Today we’ll take a look at the science of burpees and see if they are really the holy grail of training as claimed or just a modern form of torture that we can live without.


A bit of history on the dreaded Burpee: Created in the 1930s by a Ph.D. candidate in applied physiology at Teacher's College in New York named Royal Huddleston Burpee as a test of fitness, albeit it was a much simpler version performed for only a few couples of reps, and was actually advised against being done for long periods of time or lots of reps. A squat, jumping feet back, then forward, and standing back up was the origin of the good old Burpee.

Today it has morphed into many combinations using more or fewer movements or even adding equipment like dumbbells, jumping over loaded barbells or boxes, jumping to pull-up bars, and many others. However, the most widely practiced form of burpee nowadays has six basic movements: 

  1. A squat or bend at the hip to place your hands on the floor.

  2. Jumping both feet back into a plank position.

  3. Dropping down until your chest touches the floor.

  4. Pushing back up to the plank position

  5. Jumping your feet forward close to your hands

  6. Explosively jumping up into the air, reaching arms straight overhead.


There are a lot of great benefits that you can get from including more burpees in your training sessions and even in your daily routine:


But not everything is good and shiny. By being a big, multijoint compound movement that is often performed for many reps and close to exhaustion there are many places where you could get injured if not being mindful of proper form and body tension. 

Stress to the wrists, knees, hips and most importantly lower back can be some of the problem areas that can get an overuse injury when not performed with proper form.

Here are a few common problem areas that you should take into account to maintain good form even on the last rep of your last set. The more tired you are the more mindful you should be of:

  • Maintaining braced abs and abdominal tension at all times, especially on the dynamic jumping parts.

  • Not leaning too far forward when holding your weight on your hands so as to not overstrain your wrists.

  • Not hitting the ground with your knees, hip, or chest on the way down but controlling the movement down.

  • Controlling the landing after the jump by slightly bending your knees and pushing your knees out on the squatting portions of the movement to protect your knees.

  • Controlling every part of the movement and not performing any portion jerking or without body tension and, again, full control. If needed adjust the movement to your skill level to maintain it safe and get the benefits


The good news is that even do it is a long-chained movement it can be adjusted and scaled down or up to your unique skill level to move you closer to your goals and avoid injuries and make them sustainable and enjoyable for you.

A few ways to make it less demanding and easier for beginners:

  • Avoid the lowering to the ground portion and the jumping part, stick with the original four-movement burpee: squat or bend, feet back, feet forward, and stand up. Especially if you suffer from knee pain or are a bit heavy.

  • If maintaining a solid abdomen in the plank position while jumping your feet back is difficult for you, you can step your feet back and forth.

  • You can elevate your hands on a box or step to make it less demanding but still be able to perform the movement.

If it is starting to get easy and you need to make it a bit more demanding try the next tips:

  • Perform the burpee while supporting only one arm and alternating each rep,


If you’re thinking of including burpees in your training you might be doing something very beneficial for your health and weight goals. However, keep it on the smart side and take these tips into consideration: 

  • Always consult with your main health provider to get clearance before starting a new training program or adding new exercises, especially demanding ones like burpees.

  • If you have the chance to see a professional trainer or physiotherapist to assist you in adjusting the exercise to your skill and fitness level and teach you proper form, please do so.

  • Always favor the quality of reps over quantity and progress gradually and slowly at your own pace.

  • Adjust the movement to your skill level and learn to listen to your body, if something starts to feel off, stop the exercise immediately and scale it down next time.

  • Remember the basics of good form which can be summed up to not jerking around, controlling every single part of the movement, and maintaining body tension throughout especially in your abdomen to protect your back. 

  • Filming yourself performing the exercise can be a helpful tool to asses your own form, see areas of improvement or submit to a qualified professional for feedback.

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