How to Do a Burpee

One move is all it takes for a strength-building workout that also leaves you breathless

Burpee (Robert Prince)

The burpee is king in the world of high-intensity exercise. It’s highly efficient as a calorie burner but also incredibly effective as a way to get stronger, says Adam Rosante, strength and nutrition coach and author of The 30-Second Body. “It’s a simple bodyweight move that develops strength and anaerobic conditioning and explosive power,” he says. “Plus, it accelerates fat loss and boosts stamina.” You can build an entire gym routine around the burpee and its modifications, or you can use it at the end of any workout as a finisher.

Since the burpee can both look and feel very tough at the start, we’ve broken it down into a basic progression. Work through the steps until you can easily bang out 10 to 12 reps. Then, move on to the next level. If you’re a pro, feel free to skip to the end and try some of the modifications to make this already-killer move even harder.

How to Do It

Think of the burpee as a simple five-step move, recommends Rosante. The first two steps will always be the same, but you can change up the last three, depending on your fitness level.

Beginner: Plank Out-In

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Crouch down and place your hands on the floor, directly under your shoulders. Jump your feet back to land in plank position. Then jump your feet back up to meet your hands in the crouched position. Next, simply stand up. Return to the crouch position and repeat.

Intermediate: Burpee

​Stand with feet hip-width apart. Crouch down and place your hands on the floor, directly under your shoulders. Jump your feet back to land in plank position. Return to the crouched position by bringing your feet up to meet your hands. Then, jump straight up as high as you can and clap hands overhead, landing softly. Immediately return to the crouch position and repeat.

Advanced: Burpee with Push-Up

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Crouch down and place your hands on the floor, directly under your shoulders. Jump your feet back to land in plank position, and then perform a push-up (lowering your chest toward the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in at your sides). Press back up, and then jump your feet up to meet your hands in the crouch position. Jump straight up as high as you can and clap hands overhead, landing softly. Immediately return to the crouch position and repeat.

Scale It Up

“Each of these variations will help you recruit even more muscle fibers and up the difficulty level, which will also boost your strength and conditioning benefits,” Rosante says.

Add Resistance: Hold a pair of dumbbells or wear a weighted vest while performing the move.

Add an Obstacle: Jump onto (or over) something, like a bench, during the jump phase.

Add Forward, Backward, or Lateral Motion: Travel as far forward, backward, or to the left/right as you can during the jump phase.

Scale It Down

“The hardest part is learning to pace yourself. Most people move way too fast at the start and burn out before they’re able to finish a round,” Rosante says. If you need to slow down, feel free. Walk, rather than jump, through the move. “Push yourself, but don’t hurt yourself. Then push yourself a little harder each time.”

Filed To: Exercises / Fitness
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