The dreaded burpee is an exercise feared by many in our industry. For such a simple technique it can leave even the toughest of exercisers gasping for breath.

So what actually is a burpee? We will define the burpee as a movement that consists of a floor based movement followed immediately by a standing exercise, this is then performed as a super-set for a desired number of repetitions or length of time.

The burpee exercise

The common burpee is a squat thrust combined with a standing jump or jumping jack, and in this original guise is a hard enough exercise, however we can further exploit the brilliance of this movement to create a whole compendium of burpee possibilities.

Targeting both upper and lower body musculature, and with a major cardiovascular demand due to the fast nature of the movement and also through varying between upright and floor bound positions the burpee is truly a total body workout.

Here are 20 burpee variations to get you started, perhaps try 50 reps of each and go for the 1000 burpee challenge!

  1. Squat thrust burpee: The accepted standard of burpee, a full powerful squat thrust back and then a jump up in the air or jumping jack before repeating
  2. Star jump burpee: A simple variation, instead of a vertical jump or jumping jack, perform a full height star jump on every rep
  3. Drop set burpee: Instead of one of each for the upwards jump and squat thrust, start with five reps of each phase and then reduce through four, three, two and one of each.
  4. 1 arm burpee: For the squat thrust perform on one arm only, with the other arm in the small of you back, alternate arms every rep
  5. 1-leg burpee: Alternating sides, jump your squat thrust back onto one leg only and on the upwards phase perform a high hop jump
  6. Superman burpee: Replace the standard squat thrust with a full range squat thrust whereby you place your whole torso on the floor and reach both arms off the floor over head in a superman flying pose
  7. Bumpee: My favourite burpee variation! Instead of performing a squat thrust in a prone position, on the downwards section of the exercise simply sit down first and then lie backwards into a supine position
  8. Breast-stroke burpee: Very similar to the superman burpee but performing a breast-stroke styled arm action whilst floor bound
  9. Commando roll burpee: A great fun tweak, perform a superman burpee, then whilst your arms are outreached do a full roll to one side until you are prone again and continue onto your next repetition
  10. Press up burpee: Perform a full press up or perhaps a plyometric press up after every squat thrust before you jump back up
  11. Lizard/Spiderman burpee: Once in the squat thrust position perform a lizard walking or walking Spiderman press ups for 4 steps then jump up for your next repetition and continue
  12. Forwards to backwards roll burpee: Replace each squat thrust with an alternating forward or backwards roll. Can be performed with the squat thrust and the floor roll also.
  13. Chin up burpee: Position yourself under a high bar and then perform a standard burpee however on every upward jump perform 1 chin up repetition
  14. Muscle up burpee: Just as in the chin up burpee, try to swap the chin up for a muscle up action
  15. Star Crump burpee: Replace the squat thrust phase with a star crump where you jump both hands forwards and then back whilst in a full arm plank position, if you really want a challenge try the star crump thrust where you try to perform this and the squat thrust at the same time
  16. Sandbag burpee (overhead throw on up section): Holding a heavy sandbag throughout, lean on the bag during the squat thrust and then when you jump up launch the back overhead behind you – run to where it lands and repeat for your next repetition
  17. Broad jump burpee: On the move, include a full length broad jump (long squat jump) forward after the squat thrust in every repetition
  18. Deadlift burpee: Using a barbell perform your squat thrust either leaning on the bar or just behind it and then instead of the upwards jump perform a single rep of a barbell deadlift
  19. Clean burpee: Exactly like the deadlift burpee but perform a full clean each repetition instead
  20. Snatch burpee: Another progression from the deadlift burpee but this time perform a full barbell snatch instead of the upward jump phase on every repetition

 

Bodyweight training and high intensity intervals are all the rage in the fitness industry currently so the burpee is the perfect addition to any workout and provides a total body workout in one simple exercise.
Steve Harrison
Whether for a home workout, a boot camp group activity or as part of a larger gym based session the burpee will hold its own alongside some of the toughest and most effective exercise patterns so stop hiding away from them and get yourself up and down as fast as you can.

Steve Harrison

Premier Training International Demo Team Manager