Female athlete doing burpees


When burpees rear their formidable head in your workout regimen, you might hesitate, considering the agony that awaits at the gym. It's a grimace-inducing exercise that challenges every facet of fitness: cardio, strength, power, and endurance.

Burpees, the ultimate test of mettle, engage an extensive array of muscles, leaving no room for compromise.

A single burpee combines the essence of a squat, plank, push-up, and a triumphant jump into one fluid motion. The outcome is no less than a relentless assault on numerous muscle groups, renowned for torching calories.

Whether you harbor a deep affection or a seething disdain for burpees, one undeniable fact emerges—they are your ticket to forging a body that radiates strength, power, and unyielding conditioning.


The credit, or perhaps blame, for the creation of burpees goes to none other than U.S. psychologist Royal Huddleston Burpee Sr.

In the year 1939, Royal, an Executive Director at the YMCA in New York City and a PhD candidate in applied physiology at Columbia University Teachers College, pioneered the concept.

His granddaughter, Sheryl Burpee Dluginski, reveals in an interview with Men's Fitness that he often extolled the virtues of bodyweight exercises such as gymnastics and wrestling as the most efficient and effective forms of training.

While pursuing his PhD, Burpee Sr. sought a single exercise capable of testing a person's overall fitness. This quest led to the inception of the burpee.

The original burpee didn't include the push-up or the jump we know today, but even in its nascent form, it proved to be a heart-pounding exercise. Burpee featured this exercise in his thesis as part of his primary "Tests of Physical Capacity."

It was during World War II that the military needed a means to assess the physical fitness of its soldiers. Among the ten exercises used for this purpose, one involved counting how many burpees a person could perform in 20 seconds.

This practice took root and evolved into the burpee we endure and embrace today. It has become a staple in the military, CrossFit, HIIT workouts, sports conditioning, and recreational training.


Man Doing Burpee on Parkour Area


Despite the apprehension that often precedes a burpee session, the exercise offers a multitude of benefits that significantly impact overall fitness and health:

Enhanced Heart Health: Engaging in regular physical activity, which incorporates aerobic exercise and high-intensity interval training, positively influences cardiovascular health and blood pressure. Burpees, while challenging, contribute to this crucial aspect of overall well-being.

The Ultimate Fitness Benchmark: Royal H. Burpee envisioned the burpee as the quintessential exercise for testing fitness levels. Today, it remains a gold standard in various domains, including military evaluations and the renowned three-minute burpee test, which sets standards for cardio endurance and strength.

Calorie Incinerator: For those craving calorie burn, burpees are a formidable ally. The intense demand for energy, strength, and endurance during a burpee session makes it an efficient calorie torcher. Additionally, burpees induce EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), resulting in a heightened calorie burn rate even after the exercise concludes.

Fat Melter: Burpees, especially when incorporated into a HIIT workout, are celebrated for their fat-burning prowess. They can be more effective than some other aerobic exercises and are akin to a 30-second sprint in terms of fat-burning potential. To amplify fat loss, consider supplements like Shred fat burner, which elevates metabolism, curbs cravings, and provides sustained energy.

Full-Body Powerhouse: With just a few burpees, you engage virtually all major muscle groups throughout your body. It's not merely a cardiovascular workout; it's a full-body strength-building ordeal. Burpees ensure that every muscle has a role to play in your relentless pursuit of fitness.

Modifiable and Accessible: Whether you're working out at home or in a gym, burpees can seamlessly integrate into your training regimen. You can tailor burpees to suit your fitness level, making them accessible for beginners and challenging for advanced athletes. Since it's a calisthenics exercise, you require only your body and a bit of space, making them ideal for home, work, or anywhere else. For added difficulty, incorporate dumbbells or tuck jumps, or tone down the intensity by eliminating jumping movements.


female bodybuilder training at the gym


Now that you're primed for the burpee war, let's delve into the most common version of this exercise. It's a lightning-fast movement, so once you grasp the form, aim to accelerate your execution.

How to Execute a Burpee:

  1. Begin in a standing position, feet shoulder-width apart, chest proud, and shoulders squared over your hips.
  2. Initiate a squat by lowering your hips and bending your knees.
  3. Place your hands on the ground, ensuring they align under your shoulders.
  4. Swiftly jump your feet backward, landing in a plank position.
  5. Perform a push-up, maintaining a tight core to prevent hip sagging.
  6. Propel yourself back into the plank position by extending your arms.
  7. Hop your feet back toward your hands, landing in a squat position with your weight on your heels.
  8. Lift your hands off the ground and hold the squat position.
  9. Complete the burpee with a jump squat, landing softly and poised for the next repetition.


The multifaceted nature of burpees engages various muscle groups throughout the exercise, targeting both upper and lower body regions. The relentless sequence works in the following ways:

Quads: The squat phase of the burpee intensively engages the quadriceps, enhancing lower body strength and flexibility.

Hamstrings: As you squat, the hamstrings work to stabilize your hips. They also play a role in the explosive phase when you stand and jump.

Glutes: These powerhouse muscles are critical in both the squat descent and the final explosive leap. Strong glutes enhance hip stability and contribute to a more powerful jump.

Shoulders: When transitioning to the plank position, the shoulders, particularly the deltoids and rotator cuff, provide strength and stability. Shoulder health and stability are crucial for overall function and performance.

Abdominals: The core muscles play a pivotal role in maintaining stability while executing burpees. Engaging the core throughout the exercise is essential for proper form and to reduce the risk of injury.

Chest: Although the original burpee didn't incorporate a push-up, many variations now include it. The chest muscles are primarily engaged during the push-up phase, contributing to muscle development and strength.

Triceps: Working in conjunction with the chest, the triceps are responsible for extending the elbow during the push-up portion. They continue to engage as you return to the plank position.

Hip Flexors: These crucial muscles stabilize the hips and spine, supporting powerful movements such as running and jumping. Hip flexors are actively recruited when you jump your feet back toward your hands and during the final explosive leap.

Calves: Often overlooked, the calf muscles are activated during the final stage of the burpee. They contribute to the flexion of your feet and provide propulsion during the jump.


Whether you bear affection or resentment for burpees, scientific evidence underscores their unmatched value and effectiveness. They challenge and transform the body by targeting a multitude of muscle groups, burning fat, building strength, and serving as a fitness litmus test.

Whether integrated into a HIIT class or as part of the grueling burpee mile, burpees offer an avenue for realizing significant fitness gains. So, let the burpee revolution commence, and embrace the relentless pursuit of strength, endurance, and power!

James Freeman


Meet James Freeman, a California native whose passion for fitness emerged during challenging times, reshaping his life. With over two decades of coaching experience, he's not just a coach; he's a real-life example, shedding over 100 pounds in a journey to a healthier lifestyle. Beyond his coaching career, James is passionate about inspiring at-risk youth and promoting wellness in schools. In his downtime, he enjoys swimming and cycling, connecting with nature. Join him on his Instagram and LinkedIn profiles for insights into his empowering fitness journey.