If you’ve ever done a burpee, you’ve probably wondered how many you’re supposed to do before you can call it quits. This exercise is super tough because it gets your entire body in on the action and spikes your heart rate. That’s why the move is so beneficial, but it’s also why burpees tend to be the most dreaded portion of any workout.
A burpee is a high-intensity, full-body exercise that combines a plank, squat, and jump into one move to help build your stamina, coordination, agility, and balance, says Lalitha McSorley, PT, a trainer and physical therapist at Brentwood Physiotherapy Calgary. The general idea is that you lower into a squat, kick your feet back into a plank, then jump your feet forward again before exploding upward, she tells Bustle. If you’re feeling spicy, you can also add a push-up. [Insert sweaty emoji here.]
Since burpees are all about plyometrics or jumping, they’re a good go-to whenever you want to work your cardiovascular system and improve your endurance, says Denise Chakoian, a personal trainer and owner and founder of CORE Cycle.Fitness.Lagree. The move also uses your own body weight to work your upper body as you do a plank, as well as your lower body as you squat and jump, Chakoian tells Bustle.
That’s why the burpee leaves no stone unturned when it comes to hitting all the major muscle groups. “It works the chest, shoulders, triceps, abdominals, core muscles, and legs,” McSorley says. The move is also super efficient, she adds, since it packs so much into one motion. Here’s how to do burpees with good form so they’re extra worth it, as well as how many burpees you should do in a session.
How To Do Burpees
Here, McSorley breaks down how to do burpees with good form, so you can make the most of the move.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms raised above your head.
- Lower your hips down into a squat position by sending your butt back.
- Place your hands on the ground.
- Kick your feet back so you land in a plank position with your arms straight and core engaged.
- Optional: Do a push-up.
- Jump your feet back towards your hands.
- Explosively leap up into the air and extend your arms above your head.
- Land softly with bent knees.
- Quickly repeat the movement for your desired number of repetitions.
How Many Burpees Should You Do?
How many burpees you do will depend on your fitness level, McSorley says. If you’ve never done a burpee before, start with just one. “Doing one burpee may be a good way to familiarize yourself with the form and technique of the exercise,” she says. Get that down, then work up by breaking the move down into its parts: Practice squats, push-ups, and jumping jacks to work your arms and legs, and to build cardio strength.
From there, McSorley recommends doing three to five sets of 10 to 15 reps at a moderate pace. As you get stronger and more comfortable with the exercise, you can increase how many you do or liven up the pace.
If 10 to 15 reps becomes easy, aim to do three to four sets of 15 to 20 reps. “Doing burpees at this level can help improve your muscular strength, endurance, and agility,” McSorley says. “Additionally, a regular practice of burpees can help raise your heart rate, as well as develop better coordination and balance.”
Feeling like a burpee pro? Then try four to six sets of 20 to 30 reps. “At this level, you will be pushing your body and muscles in a way that promotes muscular strength, muscle building, and a higher endurance capacity,” McSorley explains. “Regular practice can also help reduce the risk of injury by increasing flexibility and mobility of your joints.”
For a fun challenge, try doing 100 burpees on occasion. “Completing 100 burpees in one go can be an excellent way to push your limits and test your physical fitness,” she adds. “Doing this will help you build your strength, endurance, agility, and mobility in a way that regular exercise alone cannot.”
How Often Should You Do Burpees?
Again, it depends on your goals. If you’re looking to build stamina and all-over strength, aim to do them two to three times a week. “As you become more comfortable with the exercise, you can increase your frequency up to five times a week,” McSorley says, “as long as you are giving yourself enough time to recover properly.”
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