Burpees

Burpees

Learning Series:

Do You See What I See?

For the uninitiated, the word BURPEES sounds more like something a newborn does.

Burpees, in fact, is a compound exercise. A compound exercise, is an exercise that involves more than one major muscle group and more than one joint at a time, such as the Squat. Burpees is a four or five part exercise involving different compound exercises. In contrast to an isolation exercise, which focuses on one muscle group and one joint at a time, for example: the bicep curl.

an exercise of biceps

an exercise of biceps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have not been following a regular exercise program or feel very out of shape, I would NOT recommend starting with Burpees. I would direct you to my 4 Minute Morning Progression Series, which teaches the foundation exercises for Burpees over the course of 14 weeks. As a result of following the graduated program, the body’s joint systems (ligaments, tendons, muscles and cartilage) will adapt to these movements. Learning this way allows us to focus on each part of the compound exercise, which will ensure good alignment so that when we put all the parts together, we won’t become sloppy.

When we exercise with good alignment, our movement becomes more efficient. When we move efficiently, we reduce wear and tear on our joints and muscles, which in turn supports a faster reaction time and optimal performance. Exercising longer, while out of alignment – though it may feel good mentally to know that we have burned a certain amount of calories – the end result, being the attack on our joints and muscles and skeletal system will have negated the effort in the first place. Exercise, whether for weight loss, maintenance or for peak sport performance, requires a delicate balance in many areas.

We may be able to fool our MIND,

with supplements or secret training practices,

but the BODY cannot be fooled.

Train smart, right from the start. Less is more. If we exercise with precision of movement as our primary focus, and be consistent, the results will come.

 “Build it, and they will come.”

-(Field of Dreams)

I’ve put together a little instructional video, which explains a common mistake that I was making. But I only realized that I was making this mistake once I started filming myself. Once again, I would like to encourage you to film yourself so that you can start to analyze how you are moving through your exercises.

I’ve tried to edit this video to keep it as short as possible, but as you may have noticed, I have a lot to say. Also, it is a lot harder (and time consuming) to make instructional videos than it first appears. I used my phone to record this video, though I had both my good camera and phone set up – but would you guess that I didn’t press record on the camera! Anyhow, I hope that it is the content of the video that will provide you with some useful information as opposed to judging it based solely on the lousy quality of the visual product.

For those not able to view the video, I am discussing the breakdown of Burpees. The most common error is to NOT do a complete squat but rather pass through it. The reason most will pass through the squat is due to restricted range of motion at our joints, i.e. tight musculature and fascia. Not performing the squat can lead to rounding from the back, which is not ideal.

There are two squats in Burpees. I have come to know Burpees as detailed below; though some call it Burpees Push Up (because it includes the Push Up). A classic Burpee may be done without the Push Up.

1. Squat

2. Plank

3. Push Up

4. Squat

5. Jump Squat

6. Repeat sequence

Also, I’d like to talk about the placement of our legs during the squat. There is a tendency to do a lot of exercises in a wide stance. This is OK from time to time, but important to understand that in order to develop a well-balanced body, our exercise program has to also be well-balanced. Always doing exercises in a wide stance or that are always recruiting the same muscles is not a well-balanced approach. There really is a science to exercise prescription. Though it can seem unlikely for some, anyone can muster up the drive to work hard. Working hard and for long duration alone, is not what will deliver a functionally fit body. So in my video, I venture to explain, (though very briefly and with basic language in an effort to be understood by everyone), how we should focus on parallel alignment, being the alignment, which is essential for our joints to function optimally. When we walk, the ideal placement is to have our feet and knees aligned in parallel. When we deviate from this tracking, our joints encounter wear and tear. By doing exercise OUT of alignment, our muscles become stronger in this unbalanced pattern, which further contributes to misalignment.

When we have limitation in our joints, our movement is restricted. When our movement is restricted we (unknowingly) compensate, which leads to overuse and contributes to faulty biomechanics.

What can you do?

  • Be consistent with stretches that are specific to YOUR restricted range of motion.

  • Do exercises that will support optimal range of motion in YOUR body.

I have found that when I practice my exercises (be it stairs, swim drills or Burpees), if I focus on precision then I am not able do as much; my weaker muscles will fatigue sooner. This is a good thing. This means that I am strengthening my weaker links. If I continuously train out of alignment and with brute force, then I am just repeating patterns that are only going to take me further from my goals. My goals being: having a body that is aligned and runs efficiently with the least amount of wear and tear.

Please note: when lifting very heavy loads, it is a good idea to take a wider stance for the squat.

Below is the video of me showing how to do a

4 Minute Tabata of Burpees.

8 Rounds of two intervals.

Interval #1 =  10 seconds REST + Interval #2 = 20 seconds Maximum # of Repetitions of Burpees

I was able to complete 4.5 – 4 Burpees during each 20 second interval. Which translates to doing 32 Burpees in 4 Minutes. 

That’s:

  • 64 Squats
  • 32 Planks
  • 32 Push Ups
  • 32 Jump Squats

Wow! I never thought about it like that before! No wonder it does the trick!

Also, I notice that as I get more fatigued I tend to lift my hips UP as I jump back to plank. See if you can spot that. So I will work on keeping my hips more level with the ground as I jump back into plank.

WARNING: HIIT is Highly Addictive

A US Marine Doing Pull-ups.

My wise nine year old son asked the other day, “What’s the difference between a habit and an addiction?”  Taken completely off guard, I stumbled for a minute then started to think out loud.

Well, a habit is generally something you do that is good for you, like brushing your teeth after meals or doing your daily body maintenance exercises (got to drive it home while they’re young).  An addiction is generally something a person does repeatedly – usually in excess, which in the end causes them harm.

We came up with a few more examples for each and then left the thought behind. But of course our conversation provoked for me a little blog post.  I’ve said it before, but sometimes we need to hear the same philosophy from various perspectives.  What if our healthy habit of exercise turns into one of addiction? Meanwhile, the opposite is a concern for many…difficulty developing the habit in the first place, more on that another time.

Healthy Habit of Exercise = Increased Level of Fitness, Flexibility, Strength, Endurance, better sleep pattern and food choices, Active Living, etc.

Addiction to Healthy Exercise= Increased Level of Fitness + Chronic Injury/ Pain + Symptoms of Overtraining etc. Click Marks Daily Apple to read more about symptoms of overtraining.

But what if it’s not really an addiction to exercise, but rather enthusiasm?  How do we differentiate?  Well, all of this is obviously subjective – enthusiasm can very easily morph undetected…usually those around us see our symptoms long before we see them for ourselves.

When I first started transitioning from doing my hour and a half long workouts at the gym to doing HIIT at home exclusively, I had a difficult time accepting that anything under 40 minutes would or could be enough.  After a month or so I shortened my training sessions even further to 20 minutes, and because I was getting stronger with each workout and working at such maximal effort, I was ok with the change to shorter workout times.  The short-high-intensity workouts satisfied my ‘workout high’.

But then, there was a time when I had brought the workouts down to 12 minutes and I felt so energized from them that I just didn’t want the workout to be over. So I would do another 4 Minute Tabata to top it up. Or I would do HIIT workouts five days in a row – eager for the next day so I could get my 12 minute workout in.

I only had to do this a few times to realize that I was missing the point of what HIIT could offer.

When I was playing soccer regularly, there was a few times that after having played an hour of fast paced soccer I would then come home to do a short HIIT workout. For me that was the sign that I had crossed the line. Exercising in excess would lead to overuse and injury…I felt them (overuse and injury, that is) knocking at my door. What I ended up doing instead of a HIIT workout was to come home and stretch (Yoga) – a much healthier pattern. Lucky for me I generally only make the same mistake a few times before I change my pattern…unfortunately, there are countless opportunities for making new mistakes waiting for me at every turn.  (Actually, I honestly think making mistakes is terrific, it is our greatest teacher).

Today was another opportunity to listen to my truth and not my ego. Zuzka Light is back on YouTube – Zuzka has been taken under the wing of Darren Copik from Watch It Now Entertainment. She is the original face of BodyRockTv. In September of 2011, Zuzka stepped away from BodyRock to do her own thing (she and Freddy divorced – BodyRock is still going strong under Freddy’s direction and other hosts).

So, I grabbed Zuzka’s first ZWOD (Zuzana’s Workout Of the Day) Bodyweight Only Time Challenge workout, though I had to modify one exercise to suit me. I could have fallen into my old pattern and just used brute force to push through, but just by looking at the line up of exercises I knew that doing 3 Rounds would be excessive for me. So I did 2 Rounds and finished in 14 minutes. Just right.

Here’s what MY version of the workout looks like:

I warm up with 10x flight of stairs (up + down = 1x) by two’s going up + single steps going down (13 steps) + light stretches.

Complete 2 Rounds of the following 9 exercises in sequence as a Time Challenge.

1. Dive Bombers – 10 Reps

2. Burpees – 5 Reps

3. Squat + Side Leg Lift (Alternating sides) – 20 Reps

4. Lunge Back (Alternating sides) – 20 Reps

5. Burpees – 5 Reps

6. Side Plank Lift – 10 Reps Left Side + 10 Reps Right Side

7. Burpees – 5 Reps

8. Pistol Squat – 5 Reps Left Side + 5 Reps Right Side + 5 Reps Left Side + 5 Reps Right Side

9. Burpees – 5 Reps

Cool down with 4 x 100 skips with rope

+ 5 Forward Grip Pull Ups.

Plus 40 Minutes of Ashtanga Yoga Standing Series (including the first 12 seated postures -no vinyasa- + 3 Backbends + closing sequence – no inversions).

Tomorrow I will swim for 30 minutes and do 15 minutes of stretching in the Jacuzzi. I won’t do another HIIT or Yoga till Monday. But, regardless will start my day with stretching in bed (view the Bed Stretches #1 video here), some modified sun salutations – focusing on stretching out hip flexors (iliopsoas), followed by a 4 Minute Morning Week 3 – DAY 7.

Watch the sneak preview of what’s to come from Zuzka Lights new video series:

 

We all have to start somewhere. And we all have to find the right balance. Whatever you choose, be consistent and be kind to yourself. And most important of all STRETCH your body!

And to see the original workout breakdown and video click here. At :29 seconds there is a pause in the video which shows the breakdown in writing – for anyone who wants to write it out!

What exercise did you do today?

Today’s 10 Minute Workout

A straight flight of stairs, somewhere in the ...

Image via Wikipedia

I couldn’t find a link for this workout at Mark Lauren‘s website so I’m posting it here.

It’s a time challenge.

Only three exercises:

  1. Burpees +
  2. Mountain Climbers +
  3. Jump Lunges (A.K.A: Iron Mikes)
Instructions: 
Complete 7 Rounds as fast as possible.
Round 1: Complete 5 Reps of each exercise (i.e. 5 Burpees + 5 MC + 5 Jump Lunges)
Round 2: Complete 10 Reps of each exercise (i.e. 10 Burpees + 10 MC +10 JL etc.)
Round 3: Complete 15 Reps of each exercise
Round 4: Complete 20 Reps of each exercise
Round 5: Complete 15 Reps of each exercise
Round 6: Complete 10 Reps of each exercise
Round 7: Complete 5 Reps of each exercise
My times:
2 August, 2010 –   Time  13 min :53 seconds
5 September, 2011 –  Time  10 min :31 seconds
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For my warm-up:
Ran up + down my basement staircase 10 x (12 stairs).  (Up + Down = 1x)
Odd numbers I took the stairs by two’s.  Even numbers I took single steps.
I.e.
1. by two’s
2. singles
3. by two’s
4. singles etc….up to 10.
Lunge style Hip flexor stretches, side bends, quads etc.
Did Mark Lauren’s workout, as I’ve come to call it.
Once finished it took a long time to get my breath back.  This was a super hard workout.  Walked around for quite some time breathing.
  • Cool down with 4 x 100 skips, still trying to bring my heart rate down gradually.
  • Cool down with 5 minutes on the stationary bike.
  • 5 Forward Grip Pull Ups
  • Full body stretches including rolling out ITB & TFL with foam roll.
Post-workout meal & lunch combined:
Romaine Salad with cherry tomatoes/ red peppers/ broccoli / my salad dressing
4 Slices of Roast Turkey (ingredients: roast turkey, salt –NOT processed)
1 leftover BBQ Sweet potato (fresh from last night) with a pat of unsalted butter.
12 oz. Water.

Video.Wk #12 – DAYS 1 & 5

Here is week #12 – DAYS 1 & 5.

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

This is the third progression for the Burpee.  The Burpee is a series of continuous movements. You have already learned the JUMP BACK into Plank. In this weeks progression you will add a MODIFIED PUSH UP into the mix. Continue alternating the leading leg for each step forward.

INSTRUCTIONS: From the PLANK position gently lower your knees to the floor. Bend the elbows lowering the chest in the direction of the floor.  Even if you only bend your elbows slightly, it is beneficial.  Gradually your strength will increase and so will the bend in your elbows.  I’d rather see you do very small elbow bends with strict form than lowering all the way to the floor with sloppy technique.  If you are unsure how to do a MODIFIED PUSH UP revisit: https://youasamachine.com/about-4-minute-mornings/week-9/

DAYS 1 & 5 (week #12)

1. 10 High Knees + Bend Down + Jump Back Into Plank + Lower Knees to Floor + MODIFIED PUSH UP + Raise Knees back to PLANK + Step Forward (one foot at a time) + Reach Up + Toe Raise.

2. Repeat Sequence 10 times to equal 10 Rounds.

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DAYS 2, 4 & 6 = [50 High Knees + 20 Bend Down & Reach Up with Toe Raise] x 4.

DAYS 3 & 7 = [50 High Knees + 10 Half Squat] x4.

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STRETCH YOUR BODY

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Check back for the next progression.

Video.Wk# 11 – DAYS 1 & 5

Here is week #11 – DAYS 1 & 5.

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

This is the second progression for the Burpee.  The Burpee is a series of continuous movements.  Here, I am introducing the JUMP BACK into Plank.  Everything else remains the same as in the first progression.  Alternate the leading leg for each step forward.

INSTRUCTIONS: From the Bend Down position, place both hands flat on the ground. Transfer your weight from your feet onto the hands enabling you to jump your feet back to the plank position.  The word ‘jump’ is almost is a misnomer because your aim is to be in control of your movement, it is more of a ‘lift and place’ your feet in the plank position. However, in the beginning as you are building the upper body strength to do this movement it may feel more like a jump.

TIP:  Try to keep your legs parallel to each other, toes and knees pointing forward.  When you bend down aim to maintain this parallel leg alignment.  If you are too inflexible to bring your hands flat on the ground then you should work on improving your flexibility before you do this progression.  Continue with the step back into plank (Level 1) if that is working for you.  After a few more weeks of repeating the first progression you should start seeing improvements.

DAYS 1 & 5 (week #11)

1. 10 High Knees + Bend Down + Jump Back Into Plank + Pause in Plank for a second + Step Forward (one foot at a time) + Reach Up + Toe Raise.

2. Repeat Sequence 10 times.

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DAYS 2, 4 & 6 = [50 High Knees + 20 Bend Down & Reach Up with Toe Raise] x 4.

DAYS 3 & 7 = [50 High Knees + 10 Half Squat] x4.

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STRETCH YOUR BODY

Below is a video of three hip stretches described and demonstrated by two RMT of whom I have been lucky to be a client. Turn on your volume, Mark and Alison give a brief education on where these muscles are located on your skeleton and how to do them correctly.  Learn these stretches and spend a few minutes practicing them daily.

Stretching makes ALL the difference.

Video.Wk #10 – DAYS 1 & 5

Here is week #10 – DAYS 1 & 5.

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

This is the first progression for the Burpee.  Up to this point we have established a solid foundation for all the parts that make up the Burpee minus the explosive jump at the end, but we’ll get to that down the road.

The Burpee is a series of continuous movements.  I have broken it down in this progression to allow you to focus on each part.  Each following progression will take you closer to the actual Burpee in its entirety.

I have also added 10 High Knees at the beginning of each baby Burpee to give you a bit of time between each one.

If you don’t spend enough time on stretching, stepping back and forward from the plank will shout out this fact.  Peter has limited range of movement in his ankle in the step back/forward due to an old soccer injury; as a result there is some compensation.

DAYS 1 & 5 (week #10)

1. 10 High Knees + Bend Down + Step Back (one foot at a time) Into Plank + Pause in Plank for a second + Step Forward (one foot at a time) + Reach up with Toe Raise.

2. Repeat sequence 10 times.

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DAYS 2, 4 & 6 = [50 High Knees + 20 Bend Down & Reach Up with Toe Raise] x 4

DAYS 3 & 7 = [50 High Knees + 12 Modified Push Up (Level 3)] x4

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STRETCH YOUR BODY

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Repeated 10 times (depending on your speed) this baby Burpee progression takes less than two minutes!  But don’t feel as though you have to finish in under two minutes.  Go at your own pace.  Take four minutes if that feels right.  If doing just one baby Burpee feels like enough of a challenge then go with that and try to add on another each day of the week.

Leave me a comment on how you are fitting your 4 Minute Mornings into your life.
Have Fun!