Okay, we know .. if you see burpees on the session plan, you roll your eyes, probably mutter a few things under your breath and probably even start working on the reasons why it is the right time for a rest day. We all know that burpees are not everyone’s favorite and well, we get that. In their pure form, it is sequence of movements that beats the stuffing out of you very quickly. But here’s a few reasons why we think you should actually LOOK FORWARD to seeing burpees pop up on the plan!
- There are tons of variations. (yes, many of them are even more awful than the original!)
- We’ve developed a version we call the “vertical burpee” which retains a lot of the body mechanics but avoids the rapid high-to-low-to-high position that causes quite a few folks some grief.
- They are radically easy to ramp down or ramp up if you are into that sort of thing.
- They make falling down and getting back up look pretty much awesome..
Let’s elaborate just a touch on #3, because this is real key. For us, a full version of a generic burpee goes as follows:
- from a standing position, squat down placing your hands the normal distance apart you would do for a pushup
- jump your feet back and get your balance
- since you’re in the neighborhood, do that pushup
- jump your feet back close to your hands
- explode up into what is now the second half of a squat jump
- repeat until you can’t do one of those steps any more….
Lot’s of opportunity for modifications .. let’s start with the complete overhaul — our vertical burpee consists of a pair of front kicks, followed by a squat, then come up out of the squat to either a jump or just to tiptoes. Aside from the pushup component for chest and shoulders, the movement pattern is actually quick similar to the traditional burpee. If you still want it to at least “look like a burpee”, there is still plenty you can do. First, any jump can be a step. You can eliminate the pushup. Instead of a jump at the top, just come up onto tiptoes. And you can do the whole thing at your own pace using any number of those mods.
Want to jack it up? Many options there too! Among our favorite is a “dumbbell enhanced” version, in some circles known as the “manmaker”. For this, we add a pair of dumbells, doing our pushup on them and adding a row after the pushup before coming back vertical for either thruster or push press. Or you can soup it up with a few added moves .. maybe a sitout to each side or a plank jack or tuck after the pushup. Perhaps a 180 degree turn or lateral move on the jump. The options are limited only by your own desire and creativity.
So hey, next time you see burpees on the plan, don’t think “those suck!”; instead look at that part as a chance to customize your workout!