Tuesday 10: Badass Burpee Variations

Burpees seem to be everyone’s favorite love-to-hate exercise, so I thought it would be fun to share the burpee variations I’ve collected since I was introduced to burpees at my CrossFit bootcamp back in 2008. (I collect three things: healthy recipes (or unhealthy ones I can paleoize), copies of Jane Eyre, and workouts. In their ways, all three of them are aspirational — and except for the copies of Jane Eyre that are overflowing a book shelf in my living room, my collections take up no physical space and are good for me.)

I’m going on record right now: I like burpees. They’re somewhat awful, sure, but I adore the simplicity and straight-forwardness of their challenging personality. You’ve either done a burpee or you haven’t; there’s no gray area. They work over your entire body like a meat mallet, and you can make them seem light-hearted by shouting “Yay, burpee!” on the jump. What’s not to love?

burpee variations


The Basic Burpee

You might think you know the burpee, but unless you’ve been properly introduced, you’re merely acquaintances. Become besties; watch this video from Again Faster.

10 Badass Burpee Variations

1. Broad Jump Burpees
At the end of the burpee, leap forward in a broad jump instead of up in a vertical jump. Perhaps yell “Ribbet burpee!”

2. Pushup Burpee
When I first started CrossFit, I did all of my burpees this way, with a full pushup in the bottom position… and it took forever for me to finish burpee workouts (but I got really good at pushups). Then I learned you don’t have to do the pushup in the middle. Now, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

3. One-Leg Burpee

This is actually easier than you think it’s going to be, but harder than you probably want it to be. Perfect! You do it just the way name implies: on one foot, all the way through. Make it tougher by doing a bunch of reps on one side, then switching to the other side. Make it easier by alternating legs on each rep.

4. Box Jump Burpee

This might be my favorite variation because I triumphed over my fear of box jumps, and now jumping on stuff feels like playing to me. The trick to box jump burpees is to get close enough to the box that you can jump on it at the end of the burpee — but not so close that you smack your face into the box. I might be speaking from experience.

5. Pullup Burpee

Start under a pullup bar and instead of a vertical jump on the end, leap up and do a pullup. This video is great because it shows a great option for those of us that are still trying to conquer the unassisted pullup. Do a box jump burpee onto a box, then do a jumping pullup. It’s two make-it-harder variations in one!

6. Lateral Burpee

Instead of jumping up, jump to the side. Bonus points if you add a hurdle: a jump rope on the floor will do, but you can make it more challenging my using a parallette, a barbell, or a small box.

7. High Knee Burpee (a.k.a., The Rock Star Burpee)

Instead of a simple (where simple is really freakin’ hard) vertical jump, pull your knees up toward your torso instead. Extreme badass bonus points if you decide to go all rock star like this:

Or you can do it like this:

8. Med Ball Burpee

Hold a medicine ball in your hands and proceed as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Bonus points if you keep your hands on the ball in the plank position, too — although you can scale it to be more manageable if you imitate the dude on the video.

9. Dumbbell Burpee

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, keeping your hands by your sides (shoulders relaxed, core nice and tight) on the vertical jump.

10. 8-Count Burpee

Think of it as the burpee with flair and razzmatazz! It’s definitely the burpee that Stefon would do. “This workout’s hottest new burpee variation has everything: pushups, jumping jack feet, and that thing where you jump up and yell ‘Yay, burpee!’…”


BONUS: Burpee Workouts

Here are some ideas for how to put these fun options into a workout structure. YAY, BURPEES!

Rest 1 breath for each burpee, so 10 burpees + 10 breaths rest, 9 burpees + 9 breaths rest, etc.

Burpees for Time
100 or 75 or 50 are respectable numbers, no?

Tabata Burpees
8 rounds: 20 seconds of burpees, 20 seconds of rest. You might do a different variation on each work round, just sayin’…

:30 seconds of burpees + :30 seconds of rest
For time. 10, 15, and 20 minutes are all good torture intervals.

Prisoner Burpees
This is hard core. Imagine you’re in a cell. Do 20 burpees, walk across the cell (10 feet?), to 19 burpees, walk back across the cell, do 18 burpees… until you get to 1. Be grateful that you are not actually in prison.

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