Should You Do Burpees Every Day? Benefits, Variations & How To Do Them Safely
Ah, burpees—the exercise that many people love to hate. While they can be difficult in the moment, they offer so many benefits for strength and endurance (plus, you can do them anywhere!). You may encounter burpees in practically every workout, from HIIT sessions, to boot camps, to CrossFit, and there's a good reason why: They’re one of the most efficient, functional exercises you can do.
Here's why you should incorporate more burpees into your workout routine, burpees' benefits, plus exactly how to do them safely and effectively.
So how do you actually do a burpee?
There are several different variations of burpees—some include a plank, others have a full push up, a tuck jump, or even a pull up at the end. That said, different trainers will have different instructions on how to do a typical burpee.
Since the HIIT workouts I do tend to focus mainly on speed and conditioning (rather than worrying about doing a full push up every rep), here's how to do my favorite type of burpee:
- Stand straight, then lower into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you.
- Kick your feet back into a push-up position and immediately drop your chest to the floor.
- Bow your chest up as you return your feet back to the squat position as fast as possible.
- Jump up into the air as high as you can.
- Add a little clap for pizazz!
Sound tough? They are—but they’re worth it. Here are five reasons why you should love them (and maybe do them every day!).
5 benefits of burpees.
They work your entire body.
Unlike isolation exercises like biceps curls and triceps kickbacks, burpees are a full body exercise. That means you’ll work pretty much every muscle in your body, while getting a cardio kick in as well. Looking for better core strength? Try burpees. Interested in toning your upper body? Get some burpee reps in. Burpees can make every muscle in your body sweat (and sore!), making them a valuable addition to any workout.
You can do them anywhere.
Since burpees require nothing more than your own body to do them, you can seriously do them anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling, if you don’t have access to a gym, or if you’re working out outdoors—all you need is your body to do burpees!
Body weight exercises are awesome, especially ones like burpees that are high intensity. And because there's no equipment required, you can add them to any workout (more on that later).
They can make you stronger.
Burpees are the ultimate example of functional fitness, meaning they can not only help you meet your weight loss and fitness goals, but they can also help you perform better during everyday activities like carrying groceries, lifting a suitcase over your head in an airplane or playing with your kid at the playground. These capabilities from functional fitness can enhance quality of life,2 according to research.
With every burpee rep, you’ll work your arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles. After a few sets of burpees, your legs might feel a bit like lead, your arms may shake—common signs that your muscles may be getting stronger!
They can boost your endurance (no treadmill necessary).
Want to get fit in a hurry? Whether your goal is to train for a race, try a new sport, get in shape, or just to look good, burpees can get you there, fast.
In fact, burpees are one of the best exercises ever to boost your conditioning and endurance3 for sports and other activities. Even just 10 burpees in a row can make your heart pound and your breath get quicker (try it!).
When you feel comfortable with 10, try pushing yourself to 15, then to 20. Once you enhance your endurance levels, you'll likely be able to add more and more to your workout plan. Do them consistently and watch your conditioning level skyrocket. No plateauing here!
They’re a great addition to any workout
Burpees are a dynamic, fast-paced, exercise and a perfect addition to any workout, whether you’re doing a HIIT-style session or need a quick tabata workout any time of the day. There's no equipment required, so they're perfect addition no matter what workout you have on your plate—whether you add them at the end of a sweaty yoga flow or do a round of burpees after your run. Feel free to get creative!
Should you do burpees every day?
Burpees are a great addition to any workout, but should you do them every day? The answer--it depends on your current fitness level.
For example, if you're used to working out rather intensely on a regular basis, doing burpees nearly every day should be just fine--just make sure to take at least one full day off a week to allow your body to rest and recover.
However, if you're starting burpees at more of a beginner level, you might want to try alternating with them every other day to give your body time to build up strength while recovering in between.
Are there any risks?
As a bodyweight exercise, burpees are fairly safe. And because they are so versatile, you can do some kind of burpee variation, no matter your current fitness level. However, here are a few precautions to take:
- If you've had or currently have lower back issues, you might want to avoid doing the chest-to-floor burpee that can be common in CrossFit gyms, as this variation may further aggravate your back. Instead, keep your core engaged and go into a regular plank or push up at the bottom position instead.
- If you have knee pain and are avoiding jumping exercises, you might want to skip the hop at the end of the burpee. Instead, you can simply step back and forth from the push up instead of jumping, which will allow your burpees to have significantly lower impact.
- Other than injured folks, it may be best for beginners to work their way up to a conventional burpee—for example, they can do a plank rather than a full push up in order to make burpees more accessible.
As always, it's best to consult your doctor or physical therapist before trying a new exercise.
Modifications and variations.
As mentioned, there is technically no "correct" way to do a burpee. That said, there are tons of variations of burpees you can do that can still allow you to reap the aforementioned benefits. Here are some fun ones:
- Burpee tuck jumps: Do a burpee, then jump up and tuck your knees toward your chest explosively.
- Burpee lateral jumps: Do a burpee, then jump as far as you can to one side. On the next one, jump back to where you started.
- Burpee mountain climbers: When coming down to your push-up position, do two mountain climbers (two on each side), then jump up explosively.
- Burpee box jumps: Stand in front of a plyo box, sturdy chair, or set of stairs. Drop down and do a burpee, then jump up onto the box. Jump or step back down and repeat.
- Burpee long jumps: Do a burpee, then jump forward as far as you can.
Given the many benefits and variations of this simple move, you might want to try adding burpees to your next workout. Hopefully when more people welcome this functional exercise into their lifestyles, burpees can go from feared to thoroughly enjoyed.
Krista Stryker, NSCA-CPT is the author of The 12-Minute Athlete: Get Fitter, Faster, and Stronger Using HIIT and Your Bodyweight and a leading expert on high intensity interval training (HIIT) and bodyweight fitness. She currently lives in Venice, California, and is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
From trying her first push up in college, to teaching herself to do pull ups and handstands, Krista is living proof of her philosophy that everybody is an athlete. She has helped tens of thousands of people to unlock their full athletic potential through her 12 Minute Athlete HIIT Workouts app and 12 Minute Athlete blog. You can find her @12minuteathlete on all social platforms.