What Muscles Do Burpees Work? - Benefits & How-To

Burpees always get a bad rap, but they’re much better than they seem. They’re probably not going to win any hearts or minds due to the burp part of their name, but how efficient and valuable burpees are should be getting people fired up about this exercise.

Popular in CrossFit routines, burpees targets multiple muscle groups in the human body. When you add them into other routines, they shine. Also, since it’s an excellent cardio workout, many fitness freaks use it for shedding off a few extra kilos from their waistline. In this post, we’ll dive into the science of burpees, what muscles do burpees work, and the benefits of burpees.

What Muscles Do Burpees Work?

Burpee is an exercise characterized by a full-body movement incorporating a squat, push-up, and jump. The exercise is widely used to improve overall fitness and strength and serves as cardio training. Burpees are a great way to target these muscles:

Your upper and lower legs: quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

Your buttocks: hip flexors and gluteus maximus

Lower and upper back muscles: the erector spinae and latissimus

The upper body: shoulders and chest

What Muscles Do Frogger Burpees Work?

The frogger burpee is a high-intensity exercise that works your entire body. Frogger burpees focus mostly on your core and groin area. How to practice the frogger burpee:

  1. Perform an appropriate warm-up and cool-down.
  2. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your upper body slightly tilted forward.
  3. After placing your hands on the ground, hop your straight legs back into a high plank. Make careful you lightly land on your toes.
  4. Step back and raise your hands to your chest to return to where you started.

What Muscles Do Reverse Burpees Work?

When doing the reverse burpee, you’re mostly working your shoulders, but you’ll get a little work done on your midback, quads, glutes, hamstrings, triceps, and chest. The reverse burpee is performed as follows:

  1. Stand while keeping a slight gap between your feet, about a shoulder’s width apart.
  2. Squat down to begin the workout, but don’t go all the way down.
  3. While leaning forward, extend your arms to the front.
  4. Place your hands on the ground about outside of your shoulder-width apart.
  5. Set your body in the typical push-up posture.
  6. Bend your elbows to lower your chest and torso to the ground.
  7. Reverse your movement by pulling yourself from the push-up position to return to the starting position.

Benefits of Burpees

Burpees were born for the battlefield. This old-school bodyweight exercise has been making a comeback. But instead of being used to punish recruits, burpees are now more frequently seen as a fitness tool. Here is why:

Convinient and Versatile

You can perform burpees just about anywhere with little or no equipment — just a floor, wall, or bench will do the trick. And because they’re so simple to perform and teach, you can easily include them in your workout routine at home, at the gym, or even during outdoor activities such as hiking or camping.

They Are a Full-Body Workout

Burpees work your entire body, including the major muscle groups in your chest, abdomen, and legs. This makes them an excellent choice for people who want to build strength and tone up all at once!

Functional Strength

Burpees can help you build muscle mass in your upper and lower body and increase cardiovascular health. The exercise also improves your flexibility, balance, and coordination. This means that you can do things like jump higher or lift heavier objects when required.

Improve Your Heart Health

Burpees are one of the best ways to improve your heart health. They increase your heart rate, which keeps your heart healthy over time by strengthening it and making it pump more efficiently.

How to Do Burpees?

If you want better results without increasing your risk of injury, here is how to do a basic burpee correctly every time:

Step 1: Standing with your legs shoulder-width apart and your knees bent.

Step 2: Squat and place both hands on the floor.

Step 3: Kick your feet back so you’re on your hands and toes and in a push-up posture.

Step 4: Do one push-up while keeping your body straight from head to toe. Remember not to allow your back to slump or to raise your buttocks.

Step 5: Complete one rep by jumping straight up with your hands above your head and returning to the starting position.

Step 6: Get into a squat posture as soon as you land with your knees bent and execute another repetition.

Ensure Safety

Burpees, like any other exercise, are only effective when performed correctly and without risk of injury. Here are some tips on how to ensure safety during a burpees session:

Don't Push Yourself to the Limits of Your Strength

If you want to get good at burpees, start with just 1 set of 10 reps per day (or less), then gradually increase your reps over time as long as you feel comfortable doing so. Only increase the number of reps when you’ve gotten comfortable with the exercise and can do so without difficulty or pain.

Don’t Perform Them Too Quickly

If you move fast, you may lose control of your form and increase your risk of injury. Instead of rushing through each repetition, focus on moving deliberately and safely.

Arching Your Back

When you do a burpee, it’s important to keep your back straight and not arch it. If you bend over too far and arch your back, this will put pressure on your spine and cause injury.

Modifying Burpees

Burpees are a strenuous exercise, but they’re not impossible. The beauty of this exercise is that you can modify burpees to make them easier or harder.

How to Make Burpees Easier?

Burpees can be a bit challenging for beginners, but they can make all the difference in your workout. If you’re just starting with burpees, try these simple modifications:

  1. Do some stretches before the workout - This will increase your muscle’s range of motion enhancing your ability to flex, bend, hop, and reach throughout your exercise.
  2. Begin with a low squat push - Instead of starting in a push-up position and springing up like a burpee, you squat down, kick your legs back, and then back to your starting position to complete the movement.
  3. Skip the jump - Instead of leaping into the air after finishing the push-up, squat to the ground.
  4. Do not perform push-ups - Hold the plank posture for a few seconds instead of completing a push-up if your heart muscle or shoulders are not yet ready. Meanwhile, you may perform a half push-up to improve your strength.
  5. Take Your Time - If you’re having trouble getting up and down quickly enough to maintain good form, take more time to get into each position and practice getting into position smoothly before jumping back up again.

How to Make Burpees Harder?

Have you ever said burpees are too easy? Well, here’s a list of ways you can make burpees harder.

Burpee Utilizing the MAXPRO

The MAXPRO provides the resistance necessary to make burpees harder. The best part is that you don't have to change or modify how they're performed. Take a look at the video below around the 00:06 mark for a demonstration on how to perform a burpee with the MAXPRO.

The Burpee Box Jump

You will want a sturdy item to support your weight for this exercise. Follow these steps to complete this one:

  1. Standard squatting stance in front of the box; perform a modified push-up by putting your hands on a box or bench and lowering yourself to the ground.
  2.  Instead of launching yourself into the air, land on the box.
  3. Land softly on the floor with bowed knees.
  4. Do the next repetition right away.

How Often & How Much?

The number of burpees you do depends on your fitness level and how hard you want to work. If you’re just starting, begin with a few sets of 10 repetitions. As you get stronger, move up to 15 or 20 reps.

If that’s too easy for you, try adding a few more sets or increasing the number of repetitions within each set. It’s also possible to increase the intensity by making each burpee harder by adding a jump at the top or bottom of your movement.

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule about how often you should do burpees and other exercises, experts recommend doing them twice or thrice per week for maximum benefits. Once you have a solid fitness base, increase to 3-4 times per week over several months to get the most out of your workout and reach your goals.

Who Should Avoid Burpees?

Burpees aren’t for everyone. If you have any injuries or health conditions, you should avoid them. The following groups of people should avoid burpees:

Pregnant Women

Pregnant women should avoid burpees because they require you to forcefully push your stomach against your thighs and potentially cause pain or injury in your abdominal area. In addition, there is also a risk of falling backward while doing them, which could pose a danger to your baby if you’re pregnant.

People with Back Problems

Although low-impact variations of burpees exist, you should avoid them if you have wrist or low back pain. You should also stop doing burpees immediately if you feel any discomfort.

Older Individuals

Older adults should also avoid burpees because their balance may be more fragile than younger individuals. If someone has fallen recently or has balance issues due to other health conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, they should not do burpees.

Bottom Line

Burpees are an excellent exercise for your body, but only if you do them correctly. If you’re jumping straight in and performing burpees perfectly, great! But if you’re finding that they hurt your joints or they don’t feel like they’re getting your heart pumping, there’s a good chance that you have some technical issues that need correcting. Use the information provided in the post to develop the right form for burpees. Then, continue building up your fitness over time to see the number of benefits these exercises can offer you.

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