Fitness Blog

The Burpee

Exercise Review by Travis Girard


The dreaded burpee!! One of the most feared exercises by clients, and one of the most utilized bodyweight exercises used by trainers. This challenging exercise uses almost every muscle in the body, making it a calorie incinerator! Are you doing it correctly to get the most calorie burn for your buck?


Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and see where this exercise got its roots:

The burpee, also known as the squat thrust, is a full body exercise used in strength training and as aerobic exercise. It is performed in four steps, and was originally known as a “four-count Burpee”:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the exercise was named in the 1930s for American physiologist Royal H. Burpee, who developed the Burpee test. He earned a PhD in Applied Physiology from Columbia University in 1940 and created the “Burpee” exercise as part of his PhD thesis as a quick and simple way to assess fitness. The exercise was popularized when the United States Armed Services adopted it as a way to assess the fitness level of recruits when the US entered WWII. Consisting of a series of the exercises performed in rapid succession, the test was meant to be a quick measure of agility, coordination and strength. 


Now you know!


How do I perform a Burpee?


  1. Begin in a standing position.

  2. Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)

  3. Extend your feet back in one quick motion to assume the push-up position. (count 2)

  4. Return to the squat position in one quick motion. (count 3)

  5. Return to standing position. (count 4)


A common CrossFit variation is to require your pelvis to touch the ground or the Burpee does not count.  Another common variation is to add a maximum vertical jump as you return to standing position.


Start with 3 sets of 10 Burpees to build cardiovascular tolerance.

Extreme: One of the grueling original applications the military used with the Burpee was the “Burpee Mile” where the participant would perform a Burpee followed by a broad jump, until the person traveled one mile.

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