How to Burpee Efficiently: Movement Progressions

Burpees are, in essence, a way to go from the ground to a standing position. Whether they’re performed fast or broken down into many steps, burpees are a great exercise to test conditioning and build independence (for older or obese populations for example).

Burpees are simple yet can feel deadly when performed at high intensity.

In CrossFit®, burpees are often used as a tool to test your overall conditioning and are usually combined with more demanding movements. The movement itself is not complex, but when performed at a high intensity a good technique gives you a strong advantage over your competitors.

There are, of course, many variations to the burpee, all with advantages and disadvantages depending on your strengths. You can either:

  • Perform the beginning of a push up when lowering yourself to the ground
  • Drop to the ground in a semi-controlled manner
  • Jump back up to your hands with both feet from the horizonal position
  • Step up, one foot at a time, from the lying position

The basic burpee principle, however, stays the same: you fall down and stand back up.

In general, when doing burpees keep the following tips in mind:

  • Starting position: head forward, feet are positioned shoulder width apart.
  • Bottom position: your body should be flat to floor, chest and thighs need to touch the ground.
  • Coming back up from the floor: push with the hands and pull (jump) your feet back to your hands.
  • Standing again: jump and make sure your feet leave the ground. You’re now ready to start again.

The beauty about burpees is that you can always do one more.

20 Brutal Burpee Workouts Every CrossFit Athlete Should Try


Burpees fatigue your muscles and lungs faster than many movements included in CrossFit® training. They are, therefore, a great tool to improve your overall conditioning and gymnastics strength.

The easy burpee movement progression

  1. Squat as low as possible and bring your hands to the ground
  2. In that frog-like position, step or kick your feet back
  3. Lower your chest and thighs to the ground
  4. Push yourself back up with your arms
  5. Jump (or step) back to that frog-like squat position
  6. Stand up and jump, making sure your feet leave the ground

The crash burpee movement progression

  1. Fall to the ground as quickly as possible, slowing the crash down with your arms and kicking your legs back at the same time. Only catch yourself when you’re near the bottom.
  2. Push yourself back up with your arms and jump or step your feet to where your hands are. Make this movement efficient by closing your hips rapidly and keeping your legs as straight as possible to avoid extra squatting.
  3. Stand up and use the momentum to jump. The smaller the jump, the faster the burpees, yet always ensuring there’s daylight under your feet.

This is not a strict push up, and your body and midline don’t have to stay straight and tight throughout the downward and upward movements. The more you use gravity and momentum the less you’ll fatigue your muscles.

Burpees significantly differ from isolation exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions as they train the whole body as one kinetic chain,” writes CrossFit Invictus. “You get more bang for your buck and burn more calories in less time while doing burpees at high intensity.”

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