Originally published 05/28/2019. Updated 05/27/2021.

Burpees… Where the heck did this “wonderful” exercise come from?

Back in 1940, a physiologist by the name of Royal Huddleston Burpee was working on his Ph.D. at Columbia University. His thesis was surrounded by creating a bodyweight exercise that could be used to assess the fitness level in non-active adults. Now for those that do this exercise often one would think that this was cruel as it can be a very demanding exercise on your whole body and if not done correctly could cause harm. BUT that is why he would only allow his subjects to perform 4 at a time to be able to assess their ability without the risk of injury and his intention of the exercise is for it not to be done with many repetitions. Smart guy right? I mean he was working on his Ph.D. after all, haha.

After his success in creating this exercise and it’s help in assessing fitness ability, I bet you can guess what group of people quickly picked it up to use in their own assessments……the military. Again they didn’t go crazy with this total-body movement at first with only making their WW II soldiers complete burpees for 20 seconds, but then, of course, the time got extended to a full 60 seconds. It wasn’t until this moment that the movement was used for grueling punishment.

Spartan Races make you complete 30 burpees for every obstacle that you are unable to complete, but don’t worry, I will show you how to modify them to your fitness level to reduce risk of injury – plus I try not to use it as punishment, but it is fun to threaten them if one is late for their session with me (insert evil laugh).

This exercise sounds intimidating, so why should I incorporate it in my normal fitness routine?
They’re fun!
They’re a Total Body Exercise
They’re considered a bodyweight exercise that increases both strength and aerobic capacities.
They can be modified for ALL fitness levels

If you can’t do a traditional burpee due to strength or mobility issues, don’t worry, there are several variations that may work better for you.

Examples of modified Burpees

  1. Elevated Burpee
  2. Walkout Burpee
  3. Regular Burpee
  4. Regular Burpee with a Push-up
  5. Regular Burpee with a Tuck Jump
  6. Regular Burpee with a Push-up and Tuck Jump
  7. Burpee with Weight

You can also check out our article “Why Squat Burpees Beat the Rest”.

You don’t need to be “fit” or crazy to appreciate the benefits of the burpee. Give them a chance and you may see considerable changes in your body composition, strength, and endurance. Put them to the test this June and join our 30-Day Burpees Wellness Challenge! It’s pretty easy to follow but will be a challenge to complete, especially as the days pass by.

How it works:
Day 1 (June 1st), do 1 burpee. Day 2 (June 2nd), do 2 burpees. Day 3 (June 3rd), do 3 burpees (and so on). For each day that you complete the daily assigned burpees, fill in the star. Before you begin, think of a fun reward that you can work towards. If you complete all 31 days (465 burpees in total) – celebrate with something you love to do/eat/buy, etc. You’ve earned it!

We can’t wait to see your social posts as you work through the challenge – and don’t you worry – our training staff will be participating too 🙂


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