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Exercise 101: The Burpee

Exercise 101: The Burpee

The burpee has to be the ultimate all-in-one exercise. It’s a neat combination of squat, push-up and jump. It can be adapted for any level of fitness and it works all the main muscle groups.

Named for its creator, the splendidly named Royal Huddleston Burpee, the exercise began as a military fitness test. It is now a staple part of all kinds of workouts.  Here is the complete guide to the burpee.


The basic routine is squat, kick, push-up, jump. Let’s look at the burpee technique in detail.

1)     SQUAT

After warming up, begin in a squat position with knees over toes. Keep your feet hip width or more apart and your core engaged.

2)     KICK

Next, the ‘squat thrust’ section.  Place your hands on the floor by lowering the squat (not by bending your back). Kick your feet back into a push up position.

3)     PUSH-UP

Now do that push up, lowering your chest to the floor and back up.

4)     JUMP

Finally, bring your feet back towards your arms and then ‘frog jump’ upwards.

Here is the burpee sequence as a video:



It might be easier to ask what it doesn’t work! The burpee sequence exercises thighs and glutes with the squat and jump. Arms and shoulders work with the press-up. Core is engaged for the press-up and kick. Do a few reps and you’ll soon feel the cardio effect!



  • Engage your core
  • Concentrate on your squat ‘form’ – bend your legs not your back
  • Get the press up position right –feet should be further apart than hands as you drop
  • Keep it light; no floor-shaking landings!


There are dozens of ways to mix up your burpee, whether the above routine seems too easy or too hard. If you are a beginner, omit the press-up for now and just use the squat and jump. As you progress, add a half press-up, and then gradually move on.

The burpee sequence outlined above needs no equipment, but you can add dumb-bells or a medicine ball. You can also add it to your weight-training routine. Still too easy? Jump on a box or add jumping jacks.

Burpees are for everyone, so add some to your workout and see the results.


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the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.