If you never had access to a gym or gym equipment again, how would you stay in shape?

No, let me take it even further, if you were told you can only do one exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be?

The deadlift, the squat, the dip, the chin up? No, I would choose the burpee.

The burpee is probably the most effective and complete total body conditioning exercise out there. No other movement on the planet will work as many muscle groups and at the same time vastly improve your stamina, stamina, and cardiovascular conditioning.

The burpee has been a staple for wrestlers, cross-fitters, and soldiers for years. The average gym goer may have heard of them, but has likely never done them, or if they have, they probably haven’t done them the way they were intended and never reaped their full benefits.

So how do I benefit from the burpee exercise?

There are 2 steps to fully benefit from this exercise. The first step is to get the technique right.

The basic burpee is executed as follows:

  1. From a standing position, lower to a squatting position, with your hands touching the floor.
  2. From this position, extend your feet back in one quick movement to finish at the start of the pushup position.
  3. Then return to the squatting position.
  4. Return to standing position.

And there you have it, that’s the movement of the most basic form of the burpee. Once you get the hang of it, there are many other variations you can add to make it much more difficult.

For example, you could do a push-up burpee, where instead of returning to a squat from the start of the push-up (position 2), you proceed to do a push-up, then return to a squat and up to a standing position. Also, you can add a jump at the end, where instead of just coming back to a standing position, you jump straight up.

To make them even more challenging, do your push-up burpees under a pull-up bar, and at the top of the squat, jump up, grab the bar, and proceed to do a pull-up, that entire movement would equal 1 rep.

There are plenty of other ways to make them even more challenging, so be sure to check out part 2, coming soon.

So once you’ve mastered the technique, it’s all about selecting the right burpee exercise for your level and goals.

If you’re just starting out, then a good starting point is 5 sets of 10 burpees, with 1 minute rest between sets. You can add this to your existing workouts, or even incorporate it into your interval training. Depending on your fitness level, you can do the basic burpee or one of the more advanced variations.

Another slightly more difficult burpee exercise would be to do burpees using the Tabata format:

Here you do as many burpees as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for 8 rounds. Doesn’t sound like much, it only takes 4 minutes, but believe me, it’s going to be 4 hellish minutes, and by the end you’ll be sucking in more air than a jet engine.

The last exercise I will mention is the prison burpee exercise, as this is definitely something to aim for. It is quite possibly one of the most devastating workouts I have ever come across. It is well known among inmates around the world and the ability to complete it is considered the mark of a man.

The goal is to start with a set of 20 burpees (preferably with a push-up), then a set of 19 burpees, then a set of 18, 17, 16, 15… until you reach 1. This results in 210 burpees.

The idea is to rest as little as necessary between sets and get over it as quickly as possible. If you’re able to complete all of this in under 20 minutes, then you’re not a guy to mess with!

That’s all for now, start incorporating some burpee routines into your current workouts and work on doing more burpees in less time each week, it’s the only way to improve your conditioning and lose fat.

Be sure to check back soon for Part 2, I’ll discuss more burpee variations and exercise routines.

To see the full article, along with instructional images and to view part 2, you can check it out here: burpee exercises