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Burpees revisited

I have written about burpees in the past. They still are not a favourite exercise for anyone that I work with. I’m hoping that by changing the way they are done an appreciation for them will grow. They will never be loved but perhaps they can be respected as they are one of the best movements for us to do.

To refresh your memory the burpee was created in 1939 by a physiologist named Royal H. Burpee. It was intended to be done as part of a fitness test. Since it was invented it has turned into a torturous part of workouts in various exercise classes. That’s really too bad because completing large quantities at a fast pace increases the risk of injury. Hence the bad reputation. We can turn that around by using the “less is more” philosophy. There are so many amazing benefits to doing a burpee with the biggest being getting up and down from the floor in a controlled manner. 

A slow motion burpee would look like this:

  • Start in a standing position.
  • Squat down and put your hands flat on the floor in front of you (move hands out from in front of your feet to make that happen if you need to).* 
  • Move one leg at a time back so you end up in a straight arm plank. Hold that position, with tight abdominal muscles, for a moment.
  • Slowly lower yourself so you’re lying flat on the floor (call for help – kidding).
  • Lift yourself back to the straight arm plank position.
  • One at a time, step your feet back to the squat position with your hands still flat on the floor.
  • Slowly stand up to the starting position. 
  • Repeat if you want to.

*If the floor is not an option use something higher like a countertop or a chair that is secured in place.

Look at that. There’s a squat, a straight arm plank, and a push-up all contained in that burpee. What happens when you do this exercise like this – slowly – regularly is that your range of motion increases. You’ll find that your hands can be closer to your feet when they’re flat on the floor. Your squat will get lower. The grunt that occurs when moving your feet backward or forward will subside and disappear. The entire movement will become more fluid and the best thing is that you’ll be stronger for doing it. Now that deserves respect.

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