There’s no question that burpees are one of the best exercises of all time.
Not only do burpees work pretty much every muscle in your body, they’re also an incredible conditioning exercise, and will get you functionally fit like no other exercise can.
But whether you only recently started doing them or if you could do 100 burpees in your sleep, there’s always room for improvement—whether it’s in your form, your speed, or just your overall level of efficiency while busting out burpee after burpee.
And now, here are 7 tips for better burpees:
1. Keep your core tight
Whether it’s due to fatigue or just poor form, many people forget to keep their abs tight while doing burpees—a big mistake.
You should actively be tightening your core (and butt!) during the entire active phase of the burpee, since doing so will not only make the exercise more effective and work your core (meaning you’ll have to do less sit ups later), it’ll improve the overall strengthening benefits you get from burpees as well as maximizing calorie burn.
What’s more, keeping your core tight during burpees will also help reduce the stress that’s placed on your spinal column and prevent lower back pain. So if you’ve ever experienced back pain while doing a burpee, make sure to remember this tip next time you do them.
2. Relax on the way down
Though you want to keep your whole body as tight as possible through the push up and the jump portions of the burpee, that doesn’t mean you have to be that way the entire burpee.
Especially when you’re doing a lot of burpees in a row, this will unnecessarily tire you out without adding much strength. Instead, after you jump at the top, loosen up your hands and body and relax on the way down, letting gravity bring you to the ground.
This will give you enough of a mini break to help you keep going faster, longer.
3. Don’t do a full push up
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when doing burpees is that they try and do a full push up at the bottom of the burpee. Most of the time, this ends up in them fatiguing quicker and slows their burpees down significantly.
If you’re adding a push up on purpose because you want to work your chest more, great—but in all honesty, you’d be better off just doing full push ups instead, rather than doing slow burpees all day long.
So what should you do at the bottom of a burpee? Let your chest hit the floor, then bow your way back up. That way, even if you’re trying to do 100 burpees in a row, your arms will fatigue much less quickly since you’ll be using your core and lower body to help you get up, not just your arms.
4. Land on your heels
Another thing I see a lot from people doing burpees is that when they jump from the push up position up onto their feet, they often end up landing on the balls of their feet, which ends up tiring out their calves and legs during the jump portion.
Rather than landing on the balls of your feet, try to jump directly on your heels from the push up position. Although this may mean that as you start to get tired, you land with your legs slightly wider than hip width apart, it will keep your legs from fatiguing too much and making the jump harder than necessary.
5. Get some air
When you’re tired and in the middle of a tough workout, it’s tempting to jump half heartedly on the way up while doing a burpee. But you should always try and get at least an inch or two of air at the top of your burpee.
Doing so will make the exercise even more effective by helping you develop the maximum amount of lower body power possible. And since your goal is undoubtedly to get the most work done in the shortest amount of time possible, you might as well do them right the first time, and jump up high.
6. Don’t forget to breathe
Holding your breath during part of or the entirety of a burpee is a common mistake that many people make when performing the exercise (this is true with most exercises, not just burpees).
But while holding your breath during any exercise is never a good thing—since it could potentially cause you to faint or black out—holding your breath during burpees is an especially bad habit. Since burpees are a full body exercise and require an extreme amount of endurance to complete several in a row, holding your breath will only cause you to fatigue even faster and may make you feel dizzy and weak.
So remember to breathe, and your burpees will begin to improve immediately!
7. Add a clap at the end
Burpees are supposed to be fun, right? Or maybe not… but a clap can help.
Adding a clap not only keeps you engaged in the exercise, it mentally signifies the end of a rep, and yes, adds an element of fun. Because even when your muscles are screaming and you’re gasping for air, you probably can’t help but smile even just a little when jumping up in the air and clapping.
And that brief smile—that acknowledgement, albeit a short one, that burpees may actually be a little bit fun—that may just be the push you need to keep on going, burpee after burpee.