By Coach Gina
There is no question that burpees are one of the best exercises of all time.
Not only do burpees work pretty much every muscle in your entire body, they’re also an incredible conditioning exercise, and will get you functionally fit like no other exercise can.
If you are new to burpees or struggle with burpees, or even if you are good at them, let’s look at ways to improve within the movement. We should look at your form, your speed, or just your overall level of efficiency while busting out multiple reps of burpees.
Visualize yourself doing a burpee while reading these 7 tips for better burpees;
• Keep your core tight. It could be due to fatigue or just poor form; many people forget to keep their abs tight while doing burpees – a big mistake. You should be tightening your core (and butt) during the entire active phase of the burpee, since doing this will not only make the exercise more effective and work your core, it will improve the overall strengthening benefits you get form burpees as well as maximizing calorie burn. Also, keeping your core tight during burpees will also help reduce the stress that’s placed on your spinal column and prevent lower back pain.
• Relax on the way down. Though you want to keep your whole body as tight as possible through the push up and the jump portions of the burpee, that doesn’t mean you have to be that way the entire burpee. Especially when you’re doing a lot of burpees in a row, this will unnecessarily tire you out without adding much strength. Instead, after you jump at the top, loosen up your hands and body and relax on the way down, letting gravity bring you to the ground. This will give you enough of a mini break to help you keep going faster, longer.
• Don’t do a full push up.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when doing burpees is that they try to do a full push up at the bottom of the burpee. Most of the time, this ends up in them fatiguing quicker and slows their burpees down significantly. If you’re adding a push up on purpose because you want to work your chest more, great – but in all honesty, you’d be better off doing full pushups instead, rather than doing slow burpees all day long. So what SHOULD you do at the bottom of a burpee? Let your chest hit the floor, then bow your way back up. That way, even if you’re trying to do 100 burpees in a set, your arms will fatigue much less quickly since you’ll be using your core and lower body to help you get up, not just your arms.
• Land on your heels. We see this a lot, people doing burpees and they jump from the pushup position up onto their feet, they often end up landing on the balls of their feet, which ends up tiring out their calves and legs during the jump portion. Instead, try to jump directly on your heels from the pushup position. Although this may mean that as you start to get tired, you land with your legs wider than hip width apart, it will keep your legs from fatiguing too much and making the jump harder than necessary.
• Get some air. When you’re tired and in the middle of a tough WOD, it’s easy to jump half way up (not opening hips). But you should always try and get at least an inch or two of air at the top of your burpee. Doing this will make the exercise more effective by helping you develop the maximum amount of lower body power possible.
• Don’t forget to breathe. Holding your breath during part or the entire burpee is a common mistake (esp for beginners). Holding your breath during any exercise is never a good thing – since it could potentially cause you to faint or black out. Burpees require an extreme amount of endurance to complete several in a row, holding your breath will cause you to fatigue faster and make you feel dizzy and weak.
• Add a clap at the end. Aside from being the CrossFit ‘standard’ to stand fully upright and open your hips, the clap at the end keeps you engaged in the exercise. It mentally signifies the end of a rep, and adds a bit of fun! After that brief smile, that may just be the push you need to keep on going!
Burpee 101 Bottom Line;
• Keep the Core & Butt tight (saves your lower back)
• Let gravity bring you down.
• Skip the strict pushup (enjoy that mini break)
• Stand up to your heels (wider feet if necessary)
• Stand all the way up, little jump & clap.
Embrace the burpee. It will make your overall fitness better, which we all know will result in a better Fran time!
Adapted from 12 minute Athlete, 11/13
By Coach Gina