Master the Burpee: A Step-by-Step Guide to Unleash Your Fitness Potential!

If you’re looking to improve your fitness, the burpee is a full-body exercise that offers various benefits, such as increased cardiovascular endurance and fat loss. To get the most out of this powerful move, it’s essential to learn and master the proper technique. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll break down how to do a burpee correctly and help you become a master of this highly effective exercise.

Originally known as a “squat thrust,” the burpee combines various elements, including a squat, push-up, and jump. This combination engages all your major muscle groups, offering an efficient and challenging workout that can be adapted to various fitness levels. By following our step-by-step guide, you’ll not only learn the correct way to perform this popular exercise but also unlock its full potential, ensuring you get the most out of your workouts.

The History of Burpees

The burpee is named after its creator, Royal H. Burpee, an American physiologist. In the 1930s, Burpee developed the exercise as a part of his Ph.D. thesis to assess physical fitness. The original burpee was not the high-intensity movement we know today, but rather a more simplified four-count version performed in a slow, controlled manner.

During World War II, the U.S. Military adopted the burpee as a fitness test for potential recruits. They modified the exercise to include a push-up and a jump, creating the six-count burpee we often see today. The burpee quickly became an integral part of military training, known for its ability to build strength, endurance, and overall fitness.

With the rise of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and functional fitness programs like CrossFit, the burpee gained widespread popularity in the fitness world. From its humble beginnings as a basic physical fitness assessment tool, the burpee has evolved into a challenging full-body exercise with numerous variations to target different muscle groups and accommodate various fitness levels.

Related: What is HIIT? – An Introduction to High Intensity Interval Training

Benefits of Burpees

Burpees are a full-body exercise that provides a wide range of benefits, making them an excellent addition to any workout routine. One of the key advantages of burpees is their ability to strengthen your entire body at once, including your upper body, core, and lower body. This compound movement targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, offering a comprehensive workout in a short period of time.

Another significant benefit of burpees is their ability to improve cardiovascular endurance. Performing burpees sends your heart rate soaring, making them an excellent exercise for not only building strength, but also enhancing your heart and lung health. By incorporating burpees into your exercise routine, you can experience better blood flow and a reduced risk of heart-related illnesses.

Burpees are also well-known for their calorie-burning potential. The combination of strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular training within this single movement helps increase your metabolism, allowing you to effectively burn fat and lose weight. Plus, the increase in oxygen consumption leads to an after-burn effect, meaning you’ll continue to burn calories even after your workout is completed.

Related: What Workouts Burn the Most Calories?

Step-by-Step Guide

The burpee is a full-body exercise that works on improving strength, cardiovascular fitness, and overall endurance. In this section, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to perform the burpee correctly.

Step 1: Begin by standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms by your sides and maintain a straight posture.

Step 2: Lower your body into a squat position by bending your knees and pushing your hips back. As you squat, reach your hands towards the ground, placing them flat on the floor in front of you. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. This step is crucial in maintaining balance during the exercise.

Step 3: Kick your legs back in a swift motion, allowing your body to be in a plank position. Ensure that your back is straight, and your body is aligned from head to toe. Avoid arching or sagging the lower back during this phase.

Step 4: Perform a push-up by lowering your chest to the ground while keeping your elbows close to your body. Press your body back up to the plank position by straightening your arms.

Step 5: Jump your feet back towards your hands, returning to the squat position. Ensure that your chest is up and your hands remain on the ground.

Step 6: Stand up from the squat position by pushing through your heels and extending your hips. As you stand up, jump up into the air and raise your hands overhead for a more challenging burpee, or simply return to the standing position if you prefer a lighter version of the exercise.

Remember to perform this exercise with proper form to reap its full benefits and avoid any injuries. Modify the intensity of the exercise according to your fitness level and gradually progress to more challenging variations.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Despite its simplicity, there are several common mistakes people make when doing burpees. We identify these errors and offer helpful tips to refine your technique and prevent injury.

1. Landing with straight legs
Landing with straight legs puts unnecessary strain on your lower back and can lead to injury. To avoid this, always land with slightly bent knees, which act as shock absorbers, reducing the impact on your spine.

2. Arching the lower back
When jumping into the plank position or returning to your feet, avoid arching your lower back. Maintain a firm core and flat back to protect your spine. Keeping your abs braced will prevent your hips from sagging.

3. Skipping steps
As you grow tired, it’s tempting to shorten or skip steps, which can undermine the exercise’s effectiveness. Avoid this common mistake to get the most out of your burpees.

4. Rushing through the movement
Although burpees are often incorporated into high-intensity workouts, it’s crucial to prioritize form and control over speed. Rushing through the movement can cause imbalances and injuries. Take the time to perform each step with proper form, gradually increasing your pace as your technique improves.

Burpee Variations and Progressions

As you become more comfortable with the basic burpee, you can challenge yourself with various progressions and variations to target different muscle groups and increase the intensity of your workout. Here are a few examples:

  • Step-Back Burpee: Instead of jumping your feet back, step back one foot at a time into a plank position, then reverse to return to standing. This modification is suitable for beginners and places less stress on the joints.
  • Push-Up Burpee: Add a push-up when you reach the plank position to increase upper body strength and activation. This can also help improve your overall burpee form.
  • Jump-Over Burpee: Perform a lateral jump over an object, like a small hurdle or a line on the ground, after completing each burpee. This adds a plyometric element to the exercise and increases coordination and agility.
  • Single-Leg Burpee: Execute the entire movement with only one leg, alternating legs for each rep. This advanced variation challenges your balance and engages your core more intensely.

When incorporating new burpee variations and progressions, remember to focus on maintaining proper form and control to minimize the risk of injury. Gradually increase the difficulty to challenge yourself safely and effectively.

Sample Burpee Workouts

Incorporating burpees into your workout routine is an excellent way to enhance cardio fitness and strength. Here are some sample burpee workouts you can try out:

1. 10-Minute Burpee Breakdown – Take 10 minutes to practice burpee mechanics with this workout, as suggested by Spartan. Perform each component separately: squat, squat thrust, squat thrust with push-ups, and a full burpee with a vertical jump. First, do 2 minutes of jumping jacks or seal jacks, followed by 1-minute squats.

2. Burpee Ladder – Start with one burpee, then take a short break. Next, perform two burpees, and take another break. Keep increasing the reps by one, as you make your way up the ladder. Once you reach your limit, work your way back down, reducing one rep per set.

3. Burpee with Dumbbells – Grab a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand and start in a squat position. As per Healthline‘s advice, lower yourself to the ground with dumbbells beneath your shoulders. Hold onto the dumbbells while completing the burpee for an added challenge.

4. Burpee Tabata – Perform 20-seconds of burpees, followed by a 10-second rest, and repeat this cycle for a total of 8 rounds (4 minutes). Tabata is a popular high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout technique that helps you make the most of your workout in a short period.


Incorporating burpees into your workout routine is a fantastic way to increase your cardiovascular endurance, strength, and explosiveness. As with any exercise, it’s essential to learn the proper form and technique to avoid injuries and maximize benefits. To master the burpee, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  • Start in a standing position
  • Bend your knees and place your hands on the floor, transitioning into a squat
  • Jump your feet back to enter a plank position
  • Perform a push-up (optional for advanced burpees)
  • Jump your feet back to the squat position
  • Stand up, utilizing the momentum from the squat, and jump with arms raised
  • Repeat for desired repetitions

Once you feel comfortable with the basic burpee, challenge yourself by incorporating variations, such as the one-legged or one armed burpee, the burpee with a tuck jump, or the burpee with a lateral jump. Remember, practice and consistency are crucial for mastering this powerful exercise, so keep at it and enjoy the benefits!

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