The Benefits of Burpees:

So, last night I read an article about doing burpees: 30 of them for 15 days, and for some reason, I posted it on my Revive Your Health Facebook page, with the comment “Maybe this can be my April challenge. Anyone with me?”. And who knew – I got a couple of takers! So now – burpees it is.

I had a think about burpees this morning, and thought I’d knock a quick dozen out, just to practice. Nope. Managed ten, and will admit that the last two were pretty shoddy. Which just served to remind me of how good they are for you – cos if they make you feel that wrecked that quickly, they have to be good for you!

So, what type of burpee will we be doing? My personal preference: the classic squat-plank-pushup, with a little jump up at the end just to compound the pain. This variation is apparently known as the “bastardo” in common parlance, a name which shall no doubt be muttered under my breath with monotonous regularity during the month of April.  If you are just starting out in burpee land, maybe start with a standard jump-squat-legs out-jump up burpee style.

The daughter, fit little circus monkey that she is, was lying on the couch as I made this first attempt, and called out cheerfully “mum, you ARE doing the push up in between, aren’t you?”. Glad I got the couch-coach’s thumbs-up on that one. Although to be fair, at circus school, they apparently do the ones which include jumping up into a tuck-jump. I have done these. I see no need to inflict this horror and the ensuing grunting upon my home.

So, now let’s move past the whinging, and onto the Benefits of Burpees. Burpees done correctly (and some zealots emphasise that you should do burpees in rapid succession, apparently “up to 15 repetitions in a 30 second period” according to one personal trainer, Ross Enamait) will help to build up strength, endurance and increase anaerobic capacity.  Enough said.  Improved fitness sounds good…

As a health professional, I do recommend that you only start this if you are in reasonable health. If in doubt, see a doctor, and start slowly. If you need help with assessing how to start slowly and make a difference, come and talk with me in clinic. On top of being a Naturopath, a Remedial Massage therapist, and a Pilates Instructor, I am also nearly finished my Cert III in Fitness, so you could guess that I am kind of interested in all things health and fitness!

The next point to check is safety. Being as I intend to do these first thing in the morning (AKA if I don’t do them whilst still half asleep, I am perfectly capable in inventing too many reasons to avoid them), I do need to ensure that I have good joint mobility, particularly in my ankles and knees, to avoid stressing these joints in my “rapid succession” exercise… My plan is to do some squats, to limber up the ankles and hamstrings – just enough for good mobility, not too much to take up time which should be spent doing burpees!

One of the good things about burpees is that they need no equipment. This is what every advice sheet on this topics reiterates. I will amend that by recommending to the ladies who are considering my challenge: you need a good sports bra. Any exercise involving jumping, squatting and jumping again is going to fare badly without some decent motion management. So as with any morning exercise, my plan is to lay out my clothes next to my bed the night before. There is something terribly off-putting about having to scrounge around in the gloom of early morning, hunting for a decent bra. Be prepared. It gives you less excuses..

Another point which I will probably change is that I will NOT be clapping at the top of the jump. Call me an introvert, but clapping is all about attention grabbing, and if I don’t want the dog and two children watching with loud and unedited amusement at Mum attempting to burpee like a pro, then I best be a little quiet about it. The dog doesn’t commentate at least, but he takes any chance he can get to lick my face, and the thing with burpee-pushups, is that I am prone on the floor for many brief doggy-love opportunities…

So, how to start. Given that I have already discovered that doing ten sucks, I am painfully aware that 30 will suck exponentially more. I’m going to go for three attempts at ten, with a break (not a stop) in between. For those who are considering attempting this, and particularly those who had to look up what a burpee was (you know I love your enthusiasm for saying “yes” first, and checking what you were committing too, after…), I would break the month into three ten days segments. Do 10 for ten days, then 20 for the next ten days, then go for 30 for the last ten days. There are a heap of variations on Burpee challenges, with complicated calculations of most you can do in shortest possible time, etc. For me, just count. Get them done, even if it means coming back to them over the course of an hour. You will feel stronger, more powerful and more fit within a month. This is a good goal.

So: burpees… Who’s in?

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