The burpee. Hated by thousands, and loved by a similarly large (but probably slightly less) number. It’s the vegemite of fitness training. But it has to be said, whether you love it or you hate it, it’s one of those movements that does absolute wonders for your body.
I could never really figure out why the burpee had to be taught in so much depth. To be fair, you fall to the ground and get back up again. After years of having other coaches break the burpee down and observing movement myself I see how useful the burpee is and why we should all become more efficient at this beautiful movement.
There are plenty of different variations, each challenging in their own way. At Wonder Woman Workshops, we favour the sprawl burpee. This means taking your chest fully to the ground and lying flat before jumping back up again (ideally with a jump at the end) before taking yourself back down again for another rep.
So what does the burpee consist of?
DOWNWARD DOG POSITION
The very first movement of the burpee. To have the flexibility and confidence to send both hands down to the ground in one move to create a pike positionand the strength in your shoulders and midline to support the feet jumping back is the first hurdle in this movement and if often seriously overlooked.
THE PLANK POSITION
The plank is held momentarily on the way down and up. It’s important to keep a solid midline – shoulders packed, abdominals braced and glutes engaged.
Getting up off the ground is the hardest part – a lot of people see it as an opportunity to rest! Don’t rest! Pushing up is a powerful movement and requires efficiency and strength. Exhale as your driving your palms into the ground and push up, whether you worm yourself up or and push up in one solid movement the aim is to get your body off the ground.
Once we bring ourselves back to the downward dog position we create the power position. This is where our feet are under our shoulders facing forwards and knees are slightly bent. We are now ready for the jump!
THE JUMP (AND CLAP)
I believe the jump at the top of the movement creates rhythm. Executed correctly, the jump requires you to leave and land with two feet, we also open up the hips, something we all need to do more of. I also expect a hand clap above the head, why?… because it fun!
A lot of people say they hate jumping, if you jump more, you’ll get better. So practice jumping and you’ll notice an improvement in box jumps, kettlebell swings and running to name a few.
A perfect burpee would be feet together, and when your chest is on the floor, your palms should be flat and in line with your sternum and facing forward. The ‘push’ back up should be an explosive movement, pushing up off the floor and driving your hips up into a pike, before standing, chest up, and jumping high into the air. All of this should be fluid and hard work!
And why is the burpee so brilliant? Not only does it work your cardiovascular system, getting your heart rate up in super fast time, but it also works your hamstrings, shoulders and your midline for an intense full body workout. It’s a functional movement which teaches the body efficient ways to get up and lay down.
Get going, and remember, the ground is only at your feet.