I think it says something pretty powerful about an exercise when you could build a wardrobe out of the t-shirts dedicated to our odd love/hate relationship with it. Yet, that is what we have with burpees. Don’t believe me? Google “burpee t-shirt” and see some of the 230,000 results that come up (no exaggeration there!).
That pretty much ensures that the burpee is almost as hotly contested as a current presidential debate. One reason the haters love to point out the insanity of them is that it is not uncommon to see this really popular exercise just get butchered!
Of course any exercise not performed with the right intent can get ugly fast. Yet, most people believe because the burpee is just a bodyweight exercise you can get hurt. Well, you can, but just as important, you lose a TON of the actual benefit of the drill.
Almost two years ago I wrote a blog post (you can read HERE) talking about the history and initial purpose of the burpee. Giving you the short version, there is a prevailing theory that the burpee was created by Royal Huddleston Burpee. His grand daughter the intent was…
“Burpee wanted a simple way to assess the fitness of everyday folks (starting with the new members of the YMCA in the Bronx, where Burpee worked). So in 1939, when Burpee was a Ph.D. candidate in applied physiology at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, he invented an as-yet-unnamed, four-count movement that would provide a quick and accurate way to evaluate fitness. Only later would it evolve into the six-count beast we know today.”
Um, why is this important? If you look at what the burpee tested it was right in line with our ideas for our Body Armor program. Mobility, stability, strength, and endurance.
Do you have good hip mobility?
Do you have good core and full body stability?
Can you support your own body weight and move it gracefully and efficiently?
When you slow down the burpee you can see so many outstanding elements to it.
Let’s get to it though, why do I share with you such obviously fascinating information?! Well, because the burpee can be a gateway to a ton of other great metabolic work. Even drills you could argue that would help prepare for more intense training like, I don’t know, our Ultimate Sandbag Training Clean and Press standards;)
One in particular series that I learned so long ago I can’t even give the right credit to is the Man Maker series (Yes, Woman Maker is very appropriate here too). The original drill as you can see Jessica perform it is…
Whew! While that sounds and is pretty tough, it isn’t quite as random as one would believe. Yes, it is a total body blaster, but if you look deeper you will see the two sides of this drill mirror one another.
The Clean, Squat, and Press is the vertical version of the burpee if we were to add a push-up to it. Kinda cool right?
The Renegade Row adds some important synergy of shoulder stability and core strength re-enforcement.
In other words, a burpee isn’t actually a stupid conditioning drill that is mindless. Not a drill who’s mission is really to drive you into the ground, but done with the right intent to improve your movement quality. That is why we wanted to play off the idea of the Man Maker and give you some ideas based on our Body Armor concepts to take your training to new levels. After all, once you start to understand movement and intent, you can make just a much as fun as it is challenging!
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