Burpees are one of the hardest, most intense parts of a workout session. This sweat-inducing, explosive four-step movement involves squatting, thrusting, getting into a plank position and jumping. “It is a full-body exercise that helps develop muscle strength and burn calories,” says Kamal Chhikara, owner and head coach of the Reebok CrossFit Robust gym in Delhi. It engages all the major muscle groups like the arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings and abs.
Our experts list some of the additional benefits. But do remember, if you’re new to exercise in general or 40-plus in age, don’t start it without a trainer—you could get injured.
Good for weight loss
The key to fat loss is keeping the heart rate high long enough to burn stored fat, says Vesna Pericevic Jacob, a fitness expert and founder of fitness centre Vesna’s Alta Celo in Delhi. “The burpee demands all your strength and power, utilizing the muscles from your feet to the neck and shoulders,” she says.
That’s not all. Your body works at busting fat even when you’re done with burpees. “Burpees boost your metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day,” she adds, suggesting that you finish your workouts with 3 minutes of burpees (try for 30 repetitions) for additional weight loss. At the intermediate level, aim for 100-150 burpees as fast as possible, she suggests. You can add a press-up to the basic burpee to challenge your upper body strength.
As mentioned, burpees engage most muscle groups, most importantly the core. “A stronger core means an activated central nervous system, which in turn makes you alert, improves memory and body functionality,” says Kadam.
Make it explosive
Burpees are both explosive and anaerobic, designed to keep you out of breath, so the shorter and faster the workout, the better, says Chhikara. “For a beginner, 7 minutes of it is enough, while at an advanced stage, a mere 5 minutes (because you’re doing them faster at an advanced stage; you might do 40 burpees in 5 minutes, versus 20 in 10 minutes when you are a beginner) works to give your body a workout,” he explains.
Surprise your body
Doing one workout gets your body used to it, reducing its impact. With burpees, you can experiment and include variations, making every workout a surprise to your body, says Kadam. “Try a box-jump burpee, where you jump on to a box in front of you post a plank rather than straight up and back,” she says. Other variations include jump-over burpees, where you jump over an obstacle between two burpees, and tuck-jump burpees, where you fold your knees into your chest at the peak of the jump.
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