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How to Do a Proper Burpee?

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It’s the exercise everyone loves to hate: the burpee. Why? Well, the easy answer is because they are hard. The more complicated answer is because burpees are a whole-body calisthenic. Yes, the whole body. They work both upper and lower body and engage your shoulders, legs, hip, core, arms, chest, and booty. If it sounds like the burpee covers the whole gamut, it’s because they do – so keep reading to find out how to do a proper burpee.

How Many Burpees Should a Beginner Do?

If you’re a beginner, start small with burpees to avoid frustration. Since this exercise engages your whole body, soreness can last a while and extend… well… everywhere. One of the biggest mistakes newbies to the fitness world make is to jump in too aggressively and find themselves frustrated.

That is why the Burpee Challenges are so wildly popular and pop up all over social media. They start you with a nice, low, easy to handle number. Of course, in the challenges: they amp up to a big number before you know it. Is it necessary to do a lot of burpees on a daily basis? Should you do them every day?

The first thing is to be sure you are doing them correctly.

How To Do A Proper Burpee

how to do a burpee

Get on some comfortable clothes, a great pair of cross-training shoes, and clear out some space. It’s time to burpee!

  • Start by standing with your feet firmly planted shoulder-width apart.
  • You should have your weight shifted to your heels and arms at your sides.
  • Hips back, knees bent: lower yourself into a squat.
  • Next, you will put your hands down on the floor, just inside of your feet.
  • Shift your weight to your hands.
  • Push back (jump) with your feet to end up in a plank position.
  • If you’re doing this right, you will have good, straight body alignment.
  • Jump back with your feet, placing your feet outside of your hands again (yes, like step four).
  • Reach your arms over your head as you jump in the air in a swift, explosive movement.
  • When you land, you get into position for the next burpee movement.

Shouldn’t There Be a Pushup?

Some people add a pushup to make the move a bit more challenging. That is a personal preference. Pushups are certainly good for you! But if you’re a beginner, skip this step.

When adding the pushup, you are doing a quick pushup when in the plank position.

Why Are Burpees So Hard?

For obvious reasons, burpees are challenging. First of all, you are using your whole body. Think about it. We already went over how it engages so many different muscle groups. So of course it’s hard.

There are essentially multiple exercises built into one! You’re squatting. You’re planking. If you’re doing an advanced burpee you are doing a pushup. You’re jumping into explosive motion.

Second, it’s a cardiovascular workout. You are taxing your heart. Did you catch the explosive jumping part?

How Many Burpees Is a Good Workout?

Aiming for 30 a day can help improve your running. If you are just a beginner to burpees, you can make that thirty a day more manageable by doing 10 burpees at three separate intervals. Certainly, you might not want to sweat yourself up more than once each day. If this is the case, you can just take some rest between sets of 10.

If you aim to do 30 a day you will probably find a few things. First off, people report that they need less rest between sets of 10. Second, they state that it does get easier. Do burpees ever get easy? Not if you’re doing them right.

The goal is to focus on form each time. Also, you can always squat a little deeper or jump a little higher. Don’t get lazy if you want to get the most out of the movement!

Is It Bad To Do Burpees Every Day?

If it was bad to do burpees every day you wouldn’t see people successfully completing burpee challenges. The one word of caution I have for you is not to try to do too many in the beginning.

If you’re interested in a mental and physical challenge, perhaps a burpee challenge is right for you! A simple Google or Pinterest search will net you a lot of possibilities in this department. Here is one of my favorites because it starts small and breaks it into sets. In the end, you will have done a LOT of burpees!


There are also some challenges that work in rest days if that is important to you!

Do Burpees Build Muscle?

Of course, they can build muscle! Anytime you are engaging and challenging your body, you will see body changes. Now, will burpees bulk you up like a 90-minute session throwing around weights? No. However, if you are trying to sculpt your body they are an efficient tool for your toolbox.

An added bonus is that you need zero equipment to do a burpee! No fancy gym. No gimmicks. Just you and the floor. And watch your physical and mental strength grow with your confidence.

Incorporating them Into Your Run

Have you ever considered mixing up your running workout by adding some calisthenics? Hear me out. It’s a great way to mix up a run and strengthen your body.  Some of my favorite workouts incorporate the old gym class warm-up exercises and get me sweating like a champ!

Start by plotting our a quarter-mile. Or you can visit your local track and do your workout there. Pick 10-15 exercises you will do. I am fortunate enough to have a quarter-mile loop of trail looping around my property. I set my kettlebell, yoga block, yoga mat and water bottle in a shady spot in the grass. I write down the 12 calisthenics I plan to do. You can be assured burpees is always in the mix!

Photo Credit Pam Berg

Some of my other favorites include pushups, tricep dips, planks, kettlebell swings, and others. Warm-up for an easy 800 meters or so, then get to work. All you do is one loop (or a trip around the track, or out and back that you’ve marked out) and then do one exercise. Keep doing that until you are finished with your list!

The continuous movement is great for your body. It’s okay to slow down a little on the jogs. If your home gym looks like mine, you will enjoy it!

The Verdict?

Yes, they’re challenging. Yes, they are the exercise everyone loves to hate. Yes, they are worth it. Add some burpees to your life! You won’t regret it!


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