Everyone is doing burpees these days. And because everyone's doing them, and especially because they are the bane of the existence of any sane and rational human being, it's natural to do them as fast as you powered through season two of Stranger Things. Sure, blasting through your burpees gets them done quicker, and there is a cardio element to it, but the truth is that if you really want to experience all the benefits of this dreaded but amazing exercise, there's one secret that nobody's talking about or following. If you want the most results, you have to do your burpees slowly! And we mean slow! Experience every element of the move and every simple motion that makes it the new king of fat loss and muscle toning.
We asked Sarah Chadwell, NASM CPT, and she told us that "it's really about quality, not quantity. When you want to target specific muscles and make them grow, then you need to make sure you are performing the exercise correctly whether it's burpees, lunges, or overhead press. Faster does not always equal better."
Why does it work better slow?
You don't have to go Rambo style on burpees for them to positively impact your overall strength and conditioning and to shed fat. Slow down! Burpees are still going to be effective at a slower rate — and we think you'll find them even more intense.
Chadwell told us, "The difference in performing burpees slowly versus rapidly is that you keep your muscles under tension for a longer period of time. This yields muscular growth and development because your muscles have to work harder in both the concentric and eccentric portions of the exercises."
How should you break it down?
Generally speaking, burpees are used as a warmup or as a portion of circuit training. Since this is not POPSUGAR's burpee challenge, your rep range should stay between 10 and 20. Remember, this is a piece of a comprehensive conditioning circuit in which you will be performing other exercises. In this scenario, you're NOT going to use the burpees to train to failure or for your entire workout.
You can also break up the set of burpees. If you are completing 20 reps, break them into four sets of five or two sets of 10 with rest in between the sets (depending on your current conditioning). The rest periods should be 30-45 seconds.
How slow should you go? Let's break it down:
- Start in standing position.
- Squat down — lower yourself slowly, then hold the squat for a one count.
- Hands to the floor and jump feet back into plank position — hold the plank for a two count.
- Complete a superslow push-up — chin to the mat and slowly back to plank position.
- Jump your feet back up into frog position — hold for a one count.
- Squat thrust into the air — use all your might to jump as high as you can.
Struggling With Any Portions of Your Burpees?
We know burpees are one tough exercise. Chadwell told us, "There may be certain parts of burpees that you struggle with since burpees are a combination of many exercises. But you can build weaknesses into strengths by being deliberate in your training on 'non-burpee' days."
- Complete three sets of push-ups, planks, and squat jumps twice a week as part of your training program.
- Get 30 minutes a day of cardio to build your cardiovascular endurance.
- Do bodyweight exercises that require muscular endurance.
It's the same for the plank, froggies, and squat jump portions of the exercise. By isolating the individual exercises and completing sets of each, you will build up to executing excellent burpees over time.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
The bottom line here is to slow down and feel every muscle, every move. Make your muscles tremble under pressure. Make mind-to-body connections. Learn to love the burn, because that burn is what's making you lean and fit.