Burpees. Anyone who’s done them loathes them, everyone who hasn’t is scared of them, and for anyone else, you see them everywhere. Trouble is, many individuals struggle with the nuances of such a simple bodyweight movement. To get on the ground and get back up is about as “functional” as training can be; however improper implementation and poor coaching has left many with lacking performance or worse yet, at risk of injury. In this blog, supplemented by the video above, we’ll break down the burpee and give you the steps to developing mastery in one of the greatest exercises of all time.
1: Hands to the floor
Proper burpees start with proper hand placement. Without a solid reach for the ground, the individual performing said rep(s) will be unable to navigate the ascension portion of the exercise with good shoulder positioning. In the coordinating image, you’ll see hands placed in front of the toes at shoulder width or slightly wider. This allows for body clearance when the torso lowers to the floor and trunk support (discussed in the following step).
2. Feet kick back behind you
Often overshot, the movement of the legs is exclusively to orientate your body to a proper push up position. Many beginners and novices will navigate their feet back too far, causing the shoulders to be too far behind the hands, making for an inefficient rep. Place the toes directly where they would be for a push up, keeping the shoulders over the palms, ultimately giving the torso support.
3. Hips and Chest to deck
When it comes to burpee cueing you will often hear coaches holler out, “Chest to deck!” This is in at attempt to iterate the desired finish position for the midway point of the burpee. We want to see clients and athletes bottom out that push up position with hands next to their ribs. Tempting as it may be, the flaring out of the elbows puts the shoulder in a compromised position as the performer seeks to stand. This position ought to be accomplished with elbows in and body braced.
4a. Ascending with good push up ability
We’ll divide our recommendations for finishing the exercise into two categories discussed here in part a. and later in part b. If an individual has some quality bodyweight push ups and their upper body strength supports it, I’d recommend pushing directly through the floor and dynamically having the feet replace the hands. This sequencing allows the swift movement of the hips to tie right into the strong push of the legs, leading to a faster finish of the burpee.
4b. Ascending with less upper body strength
If an individual is still progressing their upper body’s strength, a great option can be to “worm” up from the bottom position and use that momentum to snap the hips, just like individuals utilizing the method mentioned in part a. While this technique takes a little more time, it can be a very effective way to move through a similar number of reps amongst individuals of differing abilities.
5. Feet land, stand and jump
We perform burpees to get down and get back up fully. There is no better way to get that upmost extension of the entire body than to have the individual jump and reach from that feet flat position. Over the years, we’ve become less enamored with “clapping” at the top of burpees and instead want to see our participants extend and reach arms overhead. I think we’ve all seen someone performing a bunch of reps continually hunched over in a poor position. Feet replace hands, jump, extend, land and repeat the rep for best results.
Reading this blog and watching the paired video won’t make doing burpees any more fun, however I hope we made things a little less daunting for you beginners and gave others a few tips to make them more bearable.
-Written by Taylor Gish
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