Burpees: A Great Full Body exercise

The burpee and the burpee test, were both invented by Royal H. Burpee, as part of his doctorate thesis in applied psychology. Let's learn more about this effective exercise. 
Burpees: A Great Full Body exercise

Last update: 15 August, 2018

Most full body exercises are designed with a single goal in mind, such as targeting a muscle group or improving an aspect of fitness. Whether it’s strength, cardio or resistance training, workouts are usually classified by what body part or muscle group they’re designed to strengthen. That being said, there’s one great exercise that benefits the entire body: Burpees! Here we look at why burpees are a great full body exercise. Keep reading to learn more about this effective exercise!

In the thesis “Seven quickly administered tests of physical capacity and their use in detecting physical incapacity for motor activity in men and boys”, Royal H. Burpee introduces this workout as a quick and easy way to evaluate physical fitness.

The exercise was so innovative that it was even used to train soldiers in World War II. This simple exercise can improve agility, strength and coordination. Even now, burpees are used in all kinds of workouts, especially in CrossFit.

How to do burpees

Burpees are a great way to tone and strengthen muscles as well as burn fat. But how is it done? Here’s the steps that you need to take to perform a traditional burpee:

  • From a standing position, squat down and place your hands on the floor, just in front of you.
  • Kick your feet back to move into plank position, then lower your chest to the floor, to preform a push-up.
  • Lift up from the push-up, straighten your elbows and immediately pull your legs back towards your chest and return to a squat position.
  • From the squat position, immediately jump up, as high as you can.
Burpees are a great way to improve fitness

Once you’ve mastered the basic burpee, there’s so many variations to try and increase the difficulty, including the one leg burpee, box jump burpee, one arm burpee, parkour burpee, and more. While burpees are about speed, good form is also very important for an effective burpee. Make sure to have a deep squat, strong push-up, and a powerful jump.

Full body workout

To workout the entire body, trainers often create entire routines using different gym equipment or special machines. But, many people don’t know that they can get a great full body workout with just one exercise: the burpee!

Let’s break the burpee down into each of it’s steps to see exactly what makes it such an effective exercise for your entire body:

  • Squat: this position works the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves, as well as the lower back.
  • Plank: strengthens the pectorals, abdominal muscles, triceps and deltoids.
  • Moving from squat to jump: transitioning between each move will work multiple muscles, including the arms, abs, glutes, and more. On top of that, the jump adds some cardio to this strength workout, and increases blood flow throughout the body.

Burn calories

The combination of squat, plank and jump make the burpee a great calorie burning exercise. Not only that, it’s a high intensity exercise, which has been shown to burn 50 per cent more fat than low intensity exercises. Finally, burpees speed up your metabolism, so you’ll continue to burn more calories, even after working out. 

So, if you want to lose weight, tone your muscles, and gain strength, do some burpees! Although burpees are a high intensity -and quite difficult- exercise, they’re worth it. They’re very effective for toning muscles and losing weight. 

A traditional burpee ends with a jump

All kinds of fitness

But burpees don’t just make you look good, they’re great for improving your overall fitness too. This workout quickly increases your heart rate, and strengthens your muscles and ligaments. The strength and fitness gained by burpees can help you to perform just about any other sport, from mountain climbing to boxing.

Burpees are a high intensity exercise and they improve cardiovascular and respiratory fitness. Not only that, the high level of speed and coordination that burpees require, will force your mind to stay active and alert, improving your mental toughness and determination.

Not only that, burpees require no special equipment, so you can do them anytime, anywhere. There’s no excuse not to train your full body with this effective exercise.

Burpees are a dynamic exercise that that you can easily add to any workout routine. Everyone from amateur athletes to Olympians can benefit from this full body exercise. But don’t forget to warm up for a minute before you begin, since burpees are a very high intensity exercise.

Burpees are a difficult exercise, so stay hydrated, push yourself, and don’t give up. Take advantage of this effective exercise to strengthen your entire body.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Burpee, R. H. Seven quickly administered tests of physical capacity and their use in detecting physical incapacity for motor activity in men and boys (No. 818). Teachers College, Columbia University. 1940.
  • Heydari M, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effect of high-intensity intermittent exercise on body composition of overweight young males. J Obes. 2012;2012:480467.
  • Mayr Ojeda E, Castro FAS, Reich M, Astorino TA, Benítez-Flores S. Burpee Interval Training Is Associated With a More Favorable Affective Valence and Psychological Response Than Traditional High Intensity Exercise. Percept Mot Skills. 2022 Jun;129(3):767-786.
  • Podstawski R, Markowski P, Clark CCT, Choszcz D, Ihász F, Stojiljković S, Gronek P. International Standards for the 3-Minute Burpee Test: High- Intensity Motor Performance. J Hum Kinet. 2019 Oct 18;69:137-147.
  • Polevoy G, Cazan F, Padulo J, Ardigò LP. The Influence of Burpee on Endurance and Short-Term Memory of Adolescents. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Sep 18;19(18):11778.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.