How to Do a Burpee

This odd exercise is a great way to burn calories fast—if you know how to do it properly.

By: Melissa Romero

Royal Burpee? More like royal pain.

The burpee, an exercise that has everyone groaning after finishing just one set, was developed and named after physiologist Royal H. Burpee as a way to test physical endurance. Soon after he came up with the jump, squat, and pushup combo, both the Army and the Navy began using it in training. It’s easily one of the most despised—and most effective—exercises to burn calories and increase your heart rate in a short amount of time.

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But why exactly is it so challenging? “Anytime you’re going from the floor to standing up like this, it’s metabolically demanding,” says Mint personal trainer Kendra Lewis. “It takes a while for blood to go from the lower body to the upper body. It’s just very exhausting.”

It’s also tough getting the form down correctly. Lewis usually has clients start by practicing the motions without the pushup. You should learn how to properly do a squat jump and a decent plank before attempting a full burpee.

Once you’ve got the hang of the form, try doing five to ten burpees straight through. “Gauge your recovery time, and every couple of weeks, build up from there,” Lewis says.

A good rule of thumb: If it takes you 30 seconds to do one set of ten burpees, take 30 seconds to rest.

Watch a video of Lewis going through the motions of a burpee.