If you've been looking for a workout that is quick, will engage a variety of muscles and is an effective fat burner, look no further than burpees. ShapeFit includes burpees on their list of the top six exercises for abdominal development, saying that it is an excellent exercise for fat burning. Burpees are a fairly simple exercise to perform, but once you try them you'll understand why they're recommended for conditioning and fat loss.
Burpee and the Squat Thrust
You might already be familiar with this exercise, but may know it by a different name. Personal trainer Matt Siaperas says that burpees and squat thrusts are essentially the same. You begin in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Squat down and place your palms on the floor as you thrust your legs back behind you, coming into a plank position. Keeping your head up, perform one push up. Then, with your hands still on the floor jump your feet forward so you are again in a squatting position. From that point, propel yourself up, executing a squat jump and ending in your starting standing position. Going through the entire sequence is considered one rep.
Incorporating squats, pushups and jumps, the burpee is a useful beginner's exercise on its own. When a client wants to concentrate on toning her abs and burning fat, Matt Siaperas starts her off with a routine that includes plenty of cardio exercise. Burpees fit right into this; out of four cardio workout days in a week, Siaperas has the client do roughly 15 minutes of burpees followed by 30 to 40 minutes of cardio on a machine like an elliptical, stationary bike or a stair stepper. The burpee portion of the workout starts with a set of 10 reps, then nine, then eight and so on until there is only one rep in the final set. There is a 30-second rest between each set.
Burpee in a Circuit
Burpees are effective exercises on their own, but when performed with other exercises they can help increase the effectiveness of your workout routine. In "The Women's Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts," Selene Yeager and the editors of "Women's Health" outline a 15-minute stress-busting circuit workout that includes burpees. Doing one set of each exercise beginning with knee thrusts then working through burpees (squat thrusts), speed jump rope, situps with a punch, front kicks, spiderman pushups and finishing with side kicks, you rest 10 to 30 seconds between exercises and get only a one- to three-minute break before working through the circuit again. In this circuit, Yeager lists the burpee as a squat thrust with a knee thrust, which is done by performing a basic burpee, but rather than jumping up at the end, you stand quickly, bringing one knee up in a thrust. Thrust first with your right knee on the first rep and then your left knee on the second rep, alternating knees through the set.
Intensifying the Burpee
Once you master a basic burpee, you can increase the intensity by adding resistance to the move. This can be done with a dumbbell or a kettlebell, which you hold with both hands in front of you as you perform the exercise. When squatting down, place the weight on the floor, keeping your grip on it as you jump back into the plank position. Instead of doing a squat jump at the end of the move, quickly stand up and swing the weight back between your legs and then forward and up to about shoulder height. You then begin the next rep by bringing the weight down and squatting as you place the weight on the floor again.
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