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An Examination Of The Burpee Calisthenic

An Examination Of The Burpee Calisthenic

When it comes to bodyweight training there is no doubt that the burpee exercise seems to be the focus for many coaches and trainers this day age. With the explosion of private box gyms and more emphasis being placed on honing in on the development of strength, along with minimal equipment, the burpee calisthenic has seemingly risen from the ashes as a primary bodyweight option from the relics of old school conditioning.

Examining The Burpee

I mean whether you need to be resourceful or not, what better way is there to build both a respectable level of conditioning and strength without the need for significant equipment or space than by implementing the burpee?

After all burpees are so popular this day and age that I’ve seen entire lines of fitness t-shirts that were made entirely about the burpee calisthenic. So what is the deal with burpees? Are they overused and overrated, or are they very much living up to all the hype?

Before BRF draws a conclusion let’s dive a little deeper into the burpee exercise and examine what is needed to perform it while also discussing some common mistakes associated with the application of this bodyweight drill.

First of all let me begin by saying that I believe burpees are a great exercise, however (there is always a “but” right?) they are tremendous when and only when they are properly executed and technique is strictly enforced.

Additionally it makes zero sense to introduce the burpee to a trainee that is incapable of mastering the fundamental push up and squat exercises first! Sadly this is ignored as a prerequisite for burpees by coaches as frequently as the Kardashians end up in the tabloids. In other words, it happens a lot!

After all when breaking down the movement of the burpee we are essentially starting from a standing position. From here we crouch to descend down into a squat following up with kicking the legs behind us in one solid motion to bring us to an upright push up position.

It is during this transition from squatting to extending into the push up position where so many people compromise their technique for the burpee exercise. Here’s a quick look at the burpee and some relevant variations.

As you could see in the video my emphasis during the crouch or squatting transition to extending my legs into the upright push up position is all about rigidity. In other words, when executing the burpee the trainee should NEVER sag at the lumbar spine or at the scapula (shoulder blades).

Remember that the lumbar and scapula serve as stabilizing joints during this movement and any collapse in this area is a sign of instability regarding the respective trainee. This is why it is necessary for the trainee to be able to master the standard push up first as a foundational means to make the jump into doing a burpee.

A couple things to look for in a faulty attempt of someone not performing the burpee exercise up to par would be their hips falling to the floor when kicking their legs out to bring them into the upright push up position. Secondly, you want to look at the shoulders to make certain that they aren’t collapsing their head and neck by roostering their push up. Here’s more of an explanation on that here.

I’m sure after seeing the video you’ve recognized some of those mistakes before. The problem is that they are way too prevalent and many coaches/trainers still program the burpee exercise for the people that are still in violation of the stability commandments I mention here.

So looking back on my original question are burpees overrated or overused? Well I would say that the burpee is a solid exercise, but it’s very commonly misused. In short, it’s misuse is overused…if that makes any sense.

I hope you enjoyed today’s article. Please make sure you post up in the comment box below to let us know if you’ve witnessed any of these violations concerning the burpee exercise. Stay strong and keep training smart.

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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