Fitness 101: How To Do A Burpee


Women's Health |

By Michelle October

It’s the ultimate all-in-one fitness move – score! – but, like unsolicited child-rearing advice, everyone has a different opinion on how to do it. Prepare to silence the know-it-alls…

If exercise is your grocery list, a burpee is your supermarket: you can get it all in one go. “The burpee integrates a combination of cardio and resistance training in one fluid sequence,” says Sports Science Institute of SA registered biokineticist Claudia Gravenorst. Thighs, back, arms, butt…

There’s hardly a muscle group left out. It even tones your tum. “Your abs are recruited to keep the core stabilised and protect the lower back,” explains Gravenorst. Plus, that jump at the end is a killer explosive move that’s hard to match. While there are a bunch of variations flying around (with push-up, without the jump, corkscrew…), Gravenorst advises caution before trying even the basic full move head-on. “Introducing new forms of exercise into your routine is really exciting, but correct form while executing the movement is key,” she says. “Doing it incorrectly can cause a magnitude of injuries – start with a modified version and then gradually build up your overall strength to execute the movement in the full position.”

Do it

start standing and lower your body into a squat. Place your hands on the floor and kick your feet back into pushup position. Do a push-up. Jump your feet back into the squat. Engage your core and tighten your glutes as you jump up off the ground, landing back in a standing position. If it’s your first time ever, ditch the push-up and jump until you’re more comfortable. Start with one to five modified burpees three times a week and work up to 10. Once that’s comfortable, start including the jump and push-up.

Three tips to keep you out of the physio’s office

1. Control the squat-to-push-up transition: the first few times, place your hands on a higher surface, like a bench.
2. Save your joints: step your feet in and out one at a time. This will also allow you to become stronger in the push-up position.
3. Ease up on the push-up: go for the modified (knees down) version to start. This will help you stabilise your back and prevent it from hyperextending (bending too far back).

Avoid if…

You’ve got an injury (obvious, but we’re saying it anyway!).

You’re pregnant – you’ll put too much strain on your lower back and pelvis.

Looking for more basic moves to master? Here are the tips you need to do squats like a pro, the key pointers for nailing the lunge correctly, plus the right way to do a biceps curl and tricep dip.

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