The Burpee – the exercise everyone loves to hate – is both one of the simplest to perform, and one of the most taxing to crank out in high volumes. The two most common variants are easy enough to explain.
Basic four-count burpee:
- Begin in a standing position.
- Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)
- Kick your feet back, while keeping your arms extended – the “plank” position. (count 2)
- Immediately return your feet to the squat position. (count 3)
- Jump up from the squat position (count 4)
At least as common is the six-count variant, which adds a push-up to the mix from the plank.
But what about adding resistance to the mix?
The invention of the burpee has been credited to physiologist Royal H. Burpee as a simple way to test someone’s current fitness level (it’s worth noting that he was opposed to use of high volumes of his exercise being used as a way to build fitness). Another version has the creation credited to Lt. Thomas Burpee of the New Hampshire Militia during the American Revolutionary War as a way to keep his troops fit in the field. Regardless of when it was created, it has become a staple in bodyweight exercise programs.
The pros and cons of burpees can be debated, but two things are clear:
- They are metabolically taxing at higher repetitions
- People love coming up with variations (especially for other people to do)
One of the simplest ways to add a little bit of complexity, as well as added resistance to the movement is to add just a little bit of extra weight. Using a medicine ball as the additional weight also adds the benefit of instability during the push-up phase. Check out the video for the full instructions. Thor, a Lacrosse player and CrossFit athlete from Broomfield, was impressed with both the grip and stability the movement required.
The weight to use depends on the individual strength and fitness level; an advanced-level man might use as much as 30 lbs, and an advanced woman might use 20 or even 25 lbs. Intermediate athletes might use 15-20 lbs for men and 10-15 for women. Beginners should consider working on the strength, skill, and conditioning before adding extra weight. A good rule of thumb is to never use more weight than could be used for a high-repetition set of slam-ball, or a smaller surface for hand positioning than could be used for a set of push-ups.
If burpees are on your love-to-hate list, try this variation to see if you can get more fun – and benefit – from them with just a little added equipment!