Merge strength training with aerobic conditioning by performing burpees. This exercise combines the movement of a pushup with that of a squat, offering full-body conditioning without the need for equipment or weights. No matter how fit you currently are, a burpee workout can help increase your strength and stamina.
The Standard Burpee
Before starting your burpee workout, find some clear space free from objects such as furniture or gym equipment. If the floor isn't padded or carpeted, lay out a gym mat, or -- weather permitting -- go outside on the grass; burpees executed on hard ground can put a high degree of stress on your wrists, increasing your risk of injury.
From a standing position, squat down so that your knees are bent and your palms are on the floor in front of you. Without moving your hands, kick your legs back into a pushup position; keep your arms straight and use your abdominal muscles to prevent your torso from sagging. From there, do one pushup, bending your elbows so that your body is parallel to the ground. As soon as you complete the pushup, jump back into the squat position and leap as high as you can into the air. Once your feet touch the ground again, you've finished your first burpee.
To create a cardiovascular workout, perform burpees in a rapid circuit; as soon as you finish leaping into the air, squat down to the ground and begin another burpee. Complete each burpee as quickly as possible without sacrificing proper form. Although you might initially become winded after only a few burpees, try to work your way up to 10 to 15 burpees within a 30-second time frame, resting between sets as needed; the stronger you get, the more you'll be able to do without stopping. As your endurance improves, you can attempt the "100 burpee challenge" workout, in which you aim to complete 100 burpees within 10 minutes. Once the standard burpee becomes easy, you can add variations and intensity so your workout stays challenging.
Modifying the standard burpee movement can help you emphasize different muscles during your routine. Add more focus to your legs by leaping forward instead of upward, or by lifting up your knees when you jump instead of keeping them straight. If you're able to do one-handed pushups or "clapping" pushups, use them in place of the regular pushups during the burpee.
Conversely, if you find the standard burpee too challenging, you can adjust the burpee to cater to your current fitness level. If your legs tire before the rest of your body, stand up instead of jumping after the pushup to lessen the strain on your leg muscles. If the pushups are too difficult, simply hold your body in the "plank" position -- with your elbows straight -- instead of lowering yourself into a pushup. Once these variations of the burpee become easy, you can attempt the standard or advanced versions.
To increase the intensity of your burpee workout, complete the burpees faster or do more of them during each circuit. Reduce the time you spend resting between sessions of burpees. Integrate more weight into the exercise by holding a dumbbell in each hand while you complete the workout. Wearing a weighted vest creates a similar effect. To avoid injury, only increase the intensity of your workout when your current routine starts feeling easy, otherwise, you run a greater risk of joint or muscle sprains.
- Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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