Burpees are a popular body weight exercise. Used by people in the military, martial artists and keep-fit enthusiasts alike, burpees work almost every muscle in your body in one short sequence of movements. To perform a burpee, stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides. Squat down and place your hands on the floor just in front of your feet. Jump your feet back into the pushup position and perform a single pushup. Jump your feet back in between your hands and then leap up into the air. On landing, immediately descend into another repetition. Burpees offer a number of benefits.
Your ability to manufacture adenosine triphosphate -- ATP for short -- without oxygen is called anaerobic fitness. ATP is a high-energy molecule that fuels almost every function in your body. Anaerobic fitness is important in sports such as boxing, basket ball and soccer. Burpees use so many muscles that, in very simple terms, your heart and lungs just can't keep up. This means that you have to use anaerobic energy pathways instead of aerobic energy pathways to supply your muscles with ATP. A set of burpees will force your body to work far above your capacity to take in, transport and utilize oxygen and, subsequently, your anaerobic conditioning will improve.
Elevated Metabolic Rate
The lactic acid that is produced by your muscles when you perform a high volume of burpees causes a phenomenon called excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC for short. Your body uses your aerobic energy pathways to clear lactic acid from your muscles. The more lactic acid is in your body, the longer and harder your aerobic system must work after your burpees are completed. This means that by triggering EPOC, not only do you burn a lot of calories when you perform burpees, you also burn more calories than normal in the hours after your workout. This is especially advantageous if your goal is weight management.
Total Body Training
Because of the numerous joint actions involved in performing burpees, just about every muscle in your body gets a workout when you perform this effective exercise. The squatting action in burpees uses your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes while the pushup action uses your pectoralis major, anterior deltoids and triceps. Your erector spinae and rectus abdominus work together and, along with your other, deeper core muscles, ensure your spine remains rigid throughout the exercise.
Increased Motor Fitness
Motor fitness is the term used to describe the interaction between your nervous system and your muscles and includes feats such as balance, agility, coordination and proprioception. Motor fitness is especially important in sports and can be the difference between making a game-winning goal or failing to make a vital game-saving tackle. Burpees involve every joint and many muscles in your body, requiring them to work together. Mastering this complex movement will improve your general motor fitness and help you with your sport and any other tasks that require the harmonious use of multiple limbs.
"Never Gymless : An Excuse-free System for Total Fitness"; Ross Enamait; 2006
"Anatomy of Exercise: A Trainer's Inside Guide to Your Workout"; Pat Manocchia; 2009
"Training for Warriors: The Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts Workout"; Martin Rooney; 2008