A Trainer’s Advice on Burpees for Beginners

A trainer announcing burpees causes the entire class to groan. This move requires your lower body, upper body, and core to all work simultaneously, all while moving at break-neck speed to get your heart rate up. The amount of work that’s going on can be daunting (not to mention exhausting). Instead of thinking about them as a single, aw-shucks compound exercise, Charlee Atkins, trainer and founder of Le Sweat, suggests you think of them as a set of “core four” moves.

The right burpee is actually a combination of four exercises-jump, squat, plank, and push-up-all combined into one. Listed below, she breaks down each step so that next time you’re asked to do 20, you’ll know exactly how to do it properly for full-body benefits.

1. Spinning

An explosive jump starts and ends the burpee. Atkins advises keeping the head above and the knees out wide as you come down in order to get some air. As you jump, you should land softly in a squat as you come down. After you do the push-ups, you will do another jump. As you did the first time, you will simply jump your feet outside of your hands so that your knees will track over your toes, then jump straight up to the sky as you did the first time. Changing the move is as simple as skipping the jump completely.

2. Sit-ups

The squat is the next exercise, which you are likely intimately familiar with from other parts of your workout. It is important to keep your head in line with your tailbone, widen your knees, and drop your butt straight down to the ground while keeping your chest proud (looking straight out in front of you instead of at the floor can be helpful here).

3. Timber

We now need to get down to business. Keeping your elbows wider than your knees, place your bare feet on the ground with your hands in front of you. Be sure to jump your feet back while keeping your back flat. Make sure you maintain a straight line from the top of your head to the bottom of your heels once you are in a plank position. Alternatively, you can take the plank from your knees and step your feet back instead of jumping.

4. Handstands

Last but not least, pushups. Really, a push-up is just a moving plank, so try to maintain that same engagement through your core and glutes. Bend your elbows to lower your body down, then straighten them to push back up. To modify,

Your next step is to combine everything into a full-fledged burpee that won’t grow you.

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