Burpee – CrossFit Exercise Guide with Photos and Instructions


Muscles Targeted: The burpee is one of the cornerstone exercises used in CrossFit. It’s an excellent movement to include in a WOD (workout of the day) since it works the entire body. Along with being a strength training exercise, it is also a great cardiovascular exercise that burns lots of calories since it engages every major muscle group in the legs, core and upper body. This helps to accelerate fat burning while toning and tightening the physique. The burpee will also help to develop explosive strength and power for a wide variety of sports.

Exercise Instructions: The burpee begins from the standing position with the feet positioned about shoulder width apart. Start by bending your knees and placing your hands on the ground. This position is similar to when you execute a squat thrust. Like a squat thrust, push your legs out behind you. They should land shoulder width apart, as if you were doing a push-up. While your legs are moving outward, lower your upper body by bending at the elbows and complete a full push-up. At the end of this step you should be back into a push-up position on the ground with your legs straight. Bring your legs back up and under your body by bending the knees. You will have returned to the squat thrust position. Straighten your body by standing up and bringing your arms upward. From this position, jump into the air and try to get at least a few inches of vertical leap. Raise your arms over your head and clap them together at the top of the jump. If you are doing multiple repetitions, transition back into the start of the exercise and lower yourself into the squat thrust position and complete your desired number of reps.

Things To Avoid: Proper technique is critical when performing a burpee so make sure you start off by going very slowly through each stage of this exercise before performing it at full speed.

  • Avoid holding your breath and ensure you follow a natural breathing pattern since this is a very demanding exercise that will take a lot out of you. It’s an excellent aerobic exercise that uses your own body weight to condition multiple muscle groups, so starving your body of oxygen will tire you out very quickly, limiting the benefits of this exercise.
  • Do not relax your core. The burpee can put stress on your lower back, and keeping your core tight will help prevent this from causing additional pressure in this area. Flexing your core also engages your abdominals and obliques which help to increase the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Do not land on the balls of your feet when returning to the squat thrust position. Push your upper body upward more explosively and try to land with your feet placed flat on the floor. Landing on the balls of your feet will tire out your calves quickly, limiting the number of repetitions you will be able to perform.
  • Don’t forget to do a full push-up after you push your legs out from behind you. Don’t skimp on this part and make sure your chest touches the ground. This will ensure you are targeting the muscles in your chest, shoulders and triceps optimally on every repetition.
  • Don’t forget to jump in the air at the end. It may seem silly, but the jump and the clap at the top of the jump serves two purposes. First, it signals the end of the burpee and it’s just plain fun. Burpees can be grueling so adding a touch of enjoyment to this difficult exercise can be a real motivator.

Reps and Sets: As an aerobic exercise, the burpee is best performed in combination with other exercises like double unders and air squats. As a beginner, you should focus on performing just a few repetitions to make sure your technique is spot-on. Once you are more advanced, you can perform anywhere from 10 reps to as many as 50 reps per set.

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