WHY YOU SHOULD STAY AWAY FROM BURPEES
REASON #1: BURPEES MISS THE GOAL
KNOWING YOUR GOALS
When you work out, do you know your goals?
Whether you are aware of it or not, you have one.
Some people want to lose weight. Some want to gain muscle. Others are just trying to stay in shape and be healthy. A rarer few enjoy exercise simply to push themselves.
These are all good goals. And each goal has guiding principles that will help you achieve it.
Principles that will provide the surest and safest path to the desired outcome.
What does burpees have to do with this?
Burpees are not included in practically any of these paths.
BURPEES DON'T KNOW THE GOAL
Let's break down the main movements of a ‘burpee'. These movements are:
The lowering portion of a squat
Each of these individual movements are useful in the right context. But when lumped together, they confuse the goal.
Is the goal to strengthen your legs? Your arms? Build endurance? Explosiveness?
For time's sake, we will explore one of these goals. Explosiveness.
It is well known in strength and conditioning that jump/ plyometric training generally is best in short yet intense efforts.
Combining a jump with other compound movements and continuously going for broke will not develop explosiveness effectively or safely.
Simply put, for most goals there are safer and more effective alternatives.
REASON #2: YOU AREN'T READY
You go to a mechanic because your car is acting up. Maybe the breaks aren't working. The mechanic says to you, “Before we fix anything, let's take it to a racetrack and see how fast we can go and then slam on the breaks. And let's do that a bunch of times.”
Does that sound crazy?
Well, that's what usually happens with burpees.
You're often taking someone with poor structural capacity, poor strength, poor athletic ability, poor fitness conditioning and repeatedly throwing them to the ground.
To make matters worse, a lot of people in general population fitness have:
Poor squat mechanics
Poor push mechanics
Poor jumping mechanics
Proper “mechanics” refers to a persons ability to perform a movement pattern safely and efficiently.
It is not a given that everyone has proper mechanics for each movement of a burpee.
Let's look at push-ups for example.
Very few people have mastered the basic push-up. A great and almost universal exercise, and yet most people still struggle to do quality push-ups. Instead, quantity is prioritized at quality's expense.
Common faults such as: poor position, range of motion, core integrity and movement control, are amplified by the complexity and momentum added by the burpee.
The push-up already includes multiple joints, muscle groups, and is a challenging exercise. Why add more?
If you haven't mastered the base movements, you have no business doing burpees.
You need to get your car tuned up before you are ready to race.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO INSTEAD
We could continue to explore reasons why you shouldn't do burpees. But we want to provide you with some actionable alternatives.
While there are endless goals and options to explore, we will look at alternatives for the commonly cited “goals” of burpees: cardio and weight loss.
When it comes to longer duration cardio, complex and high-impact exercise need to be used cautiously, if ever.
There is a tradeoff when you do something longer and try to maintain quality. If the exercise has more complexity, our ability to handle that workload safely is lessened.
Instead consider exercises that are sufficiently simple and low-impact.
People often want to improve muscle endurance along with cardiovascular fitness. But by adding together too many movements you often fail to challenge any one muscle group optimally.
A solution here would be to focus on one movement for a set or duration. And then switch to another exercise in a strategic order. This allows for a more focused challenge of the desired muscle groups.
By structuring the exercises and rest effectively, you will be able to challenge both your muscular and cardiovascular fitness safely and effectively.
Losing weight means increasing energy expenditure. This should be done with exercises that we can safely sustain for higher durations, volumes, and intensities.
What exercises should you choose?
Build around the three core movement pattern's (push, pull, hinge) and their variations.
These are foundational movements with high return on investment. And they're not excessively complex or high-impact.
Maintaining high-quality throughout these movements is a must to maximize the benefits and your safety.
Don't prioritize “how many” or “how quick” over “how well”.
Doing this, with proper selection and grouping of exercises, will enable you to pursue your goals safely and effectively.