Burpees For People Who Can't Do (or Don't Like!) Burpees, Straight From 2 Trainers
The burpee: it's an advanced move to master, and one full of many different parts that might, if you're not careful, put strain on your wrists and knees. First, there's squats. Then, there's the push-up portion, and don't forget about the jump squats at the end! Done in succession, these exercises all lead up to the total-body burpee, which CrossFitters and non-CrossFitters alike know all too well.
Jonathan Tylicki, certified personal trainer and director of education for AKT, broke it down for POPSUGAR: "In the plank, you've turned on the entire core. Then lowering down and up through the push-up, you work your chest, triceps, and shoulders. You use power to bring your feet into a squat position, then use your glutes, hamstrings, and quads to jump off the floor." It gets your heart rate going, too, he said, and also works on strength, flexibility, and power. So, yeah, it's a lot in one move.
It's also easy to break your form during burpees. Stephen Foster, Trainiac personal trainer and EXOS performance specialist, CSCS, said that you need to consistently keep a tight core and refrain from rounding your back and sagging your hips throughout your movements.
How to Build Up to a Burpee
The key to mastering this exercise, Jonathan said, is to develop your strength first. You can work on the components of burpees and increase the intensity. For instance, here's a list of progressions you can try:
- Squats: air squats; goblet squats; jump squats.
- Planks and push-ups: high planks; push-ups; negative push-ups; froggers.
After you master these exercises, you can incorporate two elements together like "lowering through the squat and jumping back into plank, or pressing up from the push-up and then jumping your feet in," Jonathan recommended. But, he noted, be conscious of your own ability level. You don't have to progress in speed or intensity until you're ready. Also, Stephen suggested doing as much of the burpee as you can and working the components you have trouble with separately. "If you don't quite have push-ups down, skip them and add them into your workout programming individually to build strength," he said. Same goes if you have trouble with the jump squat portion.
The burpee is an advanced exercise that you can do if you're up for it, but we're here to assure you that you have other options as well. Try the progression Jonathan suggested above, and check out lower-impact moves from both trainers that will still work your entire body. These types of burpees will be your new BFFs in no time!