Is there one particular exercise that has gotten as popular as the burpee in the last decade? It has tormented most of us at one point or another in our lives. You may have a love/hate relationship with the burpee, but do you really know it like you think?!
Maybe they were called squat thrusts when you were in physical education; for others, burpees. Some people would love to get into a heated debate upon the RIGHT name, but I think it isn’t the biggest deal.
Burpees have gained such popularity because they were a minimal equipment and space exercise that could really fill the job of a lot of conditioning goals.
Unfortunately, with their popularity came the misuse of burpees. So much so, that many coaches have questioned their value in real fitness coaching. Has the burpee become the exercise people use when they don’t know what else to do?
A little history may help our disucssion. Royal H. Burpee invented the four step squat thrust test.
Burpee Dluginski says that the movement her grandfather invented has been known as a squat thrust, a four-count burpee, a front-leaning rest, and a military burpee over time. The original exercise was simple:
• Squat down and place both hands on teh floor infront of you.
• Jump feet back into plank position
• Jump feet forward
• Return to standing
To administer the fitness test, Burpee Dluginksi says that her grandfather took five different heart rate measurements before and after four burpees were performed and came up with an equation that accurately assessed the heart’s efficiency at pumping blood—a good measure of overall fitness.
It may be nothing too new to you, but this from his granddaughter was pretty fascinating: “But Burpee never intended his movement to be performed in such high volumes.”
In fact, Burpee Dluginski says that her grandfather rewrote the foreword to the 1946 edition of his book to explain that he believed that the military’s modification to his fitness test was strenuous and suitable only for those already in good cardiovascular health. According to Burpee Dluginski, her grandfather didn’t like how burpees came to be used—he believed that high reps of the movement could be bad for knees or dangerous to the back, especially for anyone who lacked core strength.
In short, Burpee never intended his modest, four-count move to be used as a particularly hard-core way to get in shape.
I believe that the Burpee can be useful, but where so many have gone wrong is letting fatigue rather than the movement direct the training.
What do I mean?
Most people use the Burpee to just get tired as possible. They lose the quality and much of the benefits of the movement. What’s the answer?
I know secretly you aren’t mad about that idea, but it isn’t just cutting down on the number of burpees you perform. Rather, it is seeing if we can take that mobility, stability, and power to combine into more fluid and seamless functional fitness.
As we wind down our month of our DVRT coaches showing some great DVRT flows, I thought today would be a great opportunity to show how we can take these concepts and morph it into more effective workouts.
This isn’t about just giving a novel way to do the burpee, but looking at what the original intent could teach us about how to progress and get MORE out of the exercise!
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