You love ‘em or you hate ‘em. Lets face it unless you are really demented they mostly suck – but why. From a physiology stand point it is damn near the most work you can do using your body weight. You full body weight goes all the way to the floor, back up in a plyometric move then a jump to move your entire bodyweight off the ground. Do the math – Work = Force x Distance and Force = Mass x Acceleration (I knew that Physics degree was going to be handy…). Let’s say your center of gravity is 4’6” off the ground and your weight 150lbs. Minimal effort to get to the ground (if you do it right) but it is not zero unless you want to crash at 32.2 feet/sec2 – then 150lbs back up to 4’6” plus the jump, lets call it 5’ for round numbers and easy math. So with the effort to get your weight down safely and the thrust to get your feet under you (we’ll call that conservatively 50 ft/lbs of work) we are roughly now 200 lbs of work – so that is 1000 ft/lbs of work. Lets say you are cranking them out as fast as you can and you are getting one burpees every 3 seconds (fast but not unrealistic, you can get 2 per second pretty easy…) so in 60 seconds you get 20 burpees – 20*1000 ft/lbs = 20,000 ft/lbs of work in 1 minute – that is about 2/3hp and trust me that is HUGE! Just a small example – if you are on a road bike, level ground you would be going easily 25+ mph… If you want to check out power output for various exercise – here is a link
That is why burpees are tough – large load, over a long distance in a short amount of time. So what. The “so what” is that life rewards work done. Life rewards power output. And guess what 150 burpees for time builds besides power out put…mental toughness like you read about! That’s not all – they are useful for in life. Especially for Mil/LEO/Fire types – survival is fire and maneuver and that is what a burpee is – down fast then up fast move, back down before someone can see track and engage. The usefulness in sports is easy to see, you fall down in soccer, fall down in football — enter the burpee and you are back up and on your feet moving. Dive in volleyball, racquetball – same thing. Maybe you are at a bar trying to make an impression on someone and you trip – the burpee can be your salvation and total recovery of your cool points – ok maybe that’s a stretch but you get the idea.
So what do you think about burpees…post you thoughts / ideas…