By Samuel Mitchell, CSCS, Pn1
Do you hate burpees? Oh really, that’s so surprising I thought everyone enjoyed them. Do you sense the sarcasm? I would hope so; I’m laying it on pretty thick. Burpees come around time after time after time in our WODs. They are an amazing and easy way to get a lot of energy expenditure and cardiovascular work with zero equipment. Whether you love them or hate them it pays dividends to be good at them. You don’t have to be fast to be good. Here are four tips that have nothing to do with form to help you master the art of the burpee.
If you have 30 burpees to do, you probably don’t want to start out going as fast as you possibly can. Pacing is something that comes in handy in many workouts and exercises but I find burpees are one that people really struggle to pace. Find a good rhythm and stick with it. Stick with a kadence you know you can keep for the total number of reps you have to do. Settle into that pace and…
Now that you have your pace it’s important that we maintain it! Even if you have to slow the pace, do it, just don’t stop. No matter what, don’t stop moving! This is where people mess up the most. A burpee is little more than falling down and standing up. It doesn’t take much energy to fall down, so once you have that covered you’re already halfway there! After that, you just need to get back up. It doesn’t have to be fast, but you want to keep moving. Treat burpees like you’re a robot or a part of a machine. The machine keeps moving at a steady pace and doesn’t stop till it’s done. Slow it down, speed it up, but don’t stop that robot!
You need oxygen to be able to live, think, and move. One of the things that make burpees really challenging is the constant movement. When you are hitting the ground and quickly changing positions, it makes you want to stop and catch your breath. Part of the reason you may feel short of breath is that you are holding your breath too much during all that moving and not focusing on getting enough oxygen to fuel your muscles. Throughout the movement, focus on keeping your breaths at the same, steady pace. Don’t allow yourself to get caught panic breathing or holding your breath as your hands or feet hit the floor.
The burpee is one exercise that is pretty hard to screw up. So try to relax your mind a little and focus more on simple things like breathing. Control your breathing, focus on getting a lot of oxygen in and then exhaling forcefully to make room for more air.
The hardest part is the mental game. Keep a burpee in perspective. The burpee is only as hard as you allow it to be. Stay calm, cool, and collected and you’ll find burpees aren’t nearly as bad as you people claim. If you allow yourself to feel defeated, you will be. Don’t give up. Remember, it’s just exercise; it’s not so serious.
There you have it! Four simple tips to help you crush burpees. They’re all related to one another. You need to pace so that you don’t have to stop. You can create a pace by focusing on your breathing and breathing as you move up and down in the movement. This breath focus will allow you to not feel as winded and keep from stopping for a break. Not stopping will keep you on pace and finishing faster than you would have otherwise!
Above all, don’t make the burpee more than it is. You are just falling down and standing up. You’re just breathing and moving. The art is in the simplicity. Master the simplicity, and you will master the burpee.