The burpee is a movement that gets a bad rep because we assume it has to be done poorly. Thanks to too much beginner exposure to fitness for sport, we are used to this image of the fatigued athlete flopping down and having high school intercourse with the floor, making just about the same face, and repeating for five to ten unwatchable reps. Then the athlete pops up and asks why their back hurts.
Since many in the fitness industry began prioritizing time over movement quality, great movements like this have been bastardized, cheapened, and whored out all in the name of time. It ain’t the athlete’s fault if it’s misused. It’s ours and we, the fitness industry, must fix it.
When performed and cued correctly, the burpee is an excellent tool you can use for power (low reps for intensity) or conditioning (high reps for efficiency).
Let’s break down how to perform an effective burpee and use P360 athlete, Ashley as an example. This video was not a pre-rehearsed “how to”, I simply walked into the gym, saw her killing her reps and pulled out my phone to film. These reps are after three 500m row sets, as well as 100 varied reps of kettlebell movement, so it just goes to show you that for the trained athlete, fatigue is no excuse.
There are a few things to which I’d like you to pay attention.
✔️Hips and knees extend on the jump. This is a very important part of the burpee as we shouldn’t forget the original intention of the movement was to be powerful and plyometric. Do it right. Take some pride in your reps even if it means you don’t finish first. None of this leaned over, bare minimum nonsense. Complete the ROM. Be powerful.
✔️Ashley is looking ahead at the top of the jump, not down. This tends to facilitate the lower half extension we just talked about, as well as keep power from leaking. It also puts the cervical part of the spine in a neutral position which is always preferred. Think about projecting your t-shirt logo on the wall in front of you, not the ground.
✔️CLAP. Not only does this ensure a rep, but the clap is a neuro stimulus for the body. The aggressive clap will keep your jumps and extension aggressive.
✔️Because the lats are active in the press off the floor, Ashley’s lumbar never goes into the risky range of hyperextension. The lats are the great stabilizers of the body, and why we consider them part of the core. If the lats are tight then it’s very hard to have a passive lumbar that flops into hyperextension. Think about making the lats a very active part of the lowering to the ground and pressing off the floor.
✔️The feet jump to hand width (or wider). This lessens the torque placed on the low back due to a friendlier angle coming up off the floor.
Think through your reps just like you would any loaded movement and you’ll get pain-free reps paired with great conditioning.