Are You Doing Burpees Right? Here's How To Know

Burpees. Some people love them, while others simply loathe them. Despite how you personally feel about them, burpees are actually the king of bodyweight exercises. As Healthline explained: "A standard burpee exercise works to strengthen the muscles in your legs, hips, buttocks, abdomen, chest, and shoulders." It's also an effective calorie-burning exercise; someone weighing 125 pounds can burn 10 calories a minute doing 20 burpees non-stop while a 185-pound person can burn 15. 

The burpee — which, by the way, was named after American psychologist Royal H. Burpee in the 1930s, per The Washington Post — consists of a combination of four moves. Charlee Atkins, a New York City-based fitness expert lists the moves on Well+Good's YouTube channel. They include a jump, a squat, a plank, and a push-up, which explains how this one bodyweight exercise targets so many different muscle groups. But how do you know if you're doing burpees correctly? 

Follow a step-by-step guide to do a burpee properly

If you've never done a burpee before, Healthline provides a tip to keep in mind before you try one: A burpee is basically a "push-up followed by a jump squat." Charlee Atkins' demonstration (via YouTube) starts with a half squat into a jump while Healthline's steps begin with a squat into a push-up, but the sequence of moves is the same for both. The basic steps, in order, are; squat, jump, squat, plank, push-up, and repeat.

Each time you squat, your feet should be about shoulder-width apart and should not extend past your toes. When you jump, reach up with both arms. Land softly on your feet, and back into a squat position. Then, place your hands on the ground in front of you about shoulder-width apart, and kick your feet back at the same time as you transition into a plank/push-up position. Your shoulders should be positioned over your wrists. 

Next, do a push-up, ensuring you're not making any of the most common mistakes, including keeping your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Then, jump your feet back to a squat position and repeat the steps. Burpees are supposed to be challenging, but if you find a particular move to be too much for you, Beach Body on Demand provides some handy modification options. For instance, instead of jumping, you can hold the squat. If you can't kick your feet back simultaneously, walk them back one at a time. Can't do a push-up on your toes? Try it on your knees, or eliminate the move entirely.

This is how to correct common burpee mistakes

Following a step-by-step guide with a visual aid is a great way to ensure you're doing a burpee correctly, with proper form, but it's also helpful to know how to correct the most common mistakes. One of them is rushing through the burpee. If you move too quickly through each move, you risk exhausting yourself, which can increase the chances of injury, as warns. So, take your time with each rep, especially if you're a beginner.

Sagging your lower back during the push-up is another common error. Your back should be in a straight line, and your core should be tight, according to Verywell Fit. To avoid the back-sagging error, recommends that you "pause and make sure your abs are engaged." Breathwork is a third element to be mindful of when doing burpees. In Well+Good's burpee tutorial (via YouTube), Atkins advises breathing throughout the workout. 

She also recommended exhaling after the jumping moves and push-ups, as these are typically the most difficult moves involved in a burpee. To sum it up, burpees are an effective full-body workout, if done correctly, but they're also purposely challenging. Be sure to carefully follow a step-by-step guide with a photo or video tutorial, take your time with each rep, and modify the moves as needed. Take your time and do it right for the best results.