Burpees, the mention of it alone can ruin your day. Seen as the equivalent of a four letter word the burpee is always the most hated part of any WOD. But hate is such a strong and negative feeling, and does the burpee really deserve this? Here are 5 reasons to stop hating the burpee.
1) They’re Easy To Learn
Burpees have been around long before CrossFit, and are one of the first movements you learn in your on-ramp or intro class. Coaches around the world understand the value and simplicity of the burpee and make sure that their athletes learn how to perform them correctly: drop down, push up into a squat, jump and repeat.
The other great thing about burpees is that anyone can do them. I’ve seen kids as young as 4 years old flying through burpees like it’s a game, and I’ve seen athletes in their 70’s grinding through the bar facing burpees in Crossfit Open workout 14.5.
2) You Can Do Them Anywhere
Whether you travel a lot, got snowed in and couldn’t make it to the gym, or just have some time and energy to kill, the burpee is going to be your go-to exercise. Requiring absolutely no equipment, this bodyweight only exercise allows you to get a short or long (it’s your choice) workout in. Just be mindful of where you do them because you might get some weird looks.
3) They’re One Of The Best Conditioning Exercises
If you want to be a firebreather then burpees are one of the best ways to increase your lung capacity and ability to work through “the suck”. Watch your anaerobic endurance improve as your body conditions itself to handle higher intensity work over short periods of time (can you say faster Fran time?).
4) They’re A Perfect Match
In Crossfit WODs you typically see 2, 3, 4 or more movements combined into a circuit. Burpees fit perfectly into any of these endless possibilities because it utilizes almost every muscle group in your body, resulting in muscle fatigue and hard heavy breathing. Being able to properly perform the other movements of WODs ( like technical lifts ) under these conditions becomes much more difficult, forcing you to work smarter and focus on proper form and technique.
5) The More You Do, The Less They’ll Suck
You probably don’t want to hear this one, but the more burpees you do the less you’ll hate them. Like anything, with time and practice you’ll figure out the most efficient way to get them done, be able to handle working with less air in your lungs, and become a stronger athlete. It takes time and hard work, but maybe one day you’ll be able to tell burpees those 3 little words: “I Love You”. Maybe.
Chris Spealler is not only a CrossFit legend, but he's arguably the best bodyweight specialist to ever compete at the CrossFit Games. Watching him fly through muscle ups or handstand walk his way past the competition was truly amazing and inspiring to watch.
With over a decade of CrossFit experience as both a coach and athlete, and with 6 Games appearances, Chris Spealler has racked up a wealth of knowledge on proper movement and technique.