A two-in-one tone up

Illustration: Gabriela Serrano  

In the eternal effort to lose a few extra kilos, get lean abs and sides and a toned upper and lower body, we often segregate cardiovascular workouts and muscle training as two separate programmes. However, to save time and get a workout within a confined space, burpees, otherwise known as military burpees, are an ideal option.

It is believed that the exercise got its name in the 1930s from American physiologist Royal H. Burpee, who developed the Burpee Test as a part of his thesis, as a quick and easy way to assess fitness levels. Burpees gained popularity when the U.S. Armed Services incorporated it as a fitness test for new recruits during World War II, as a quick measure of strength, agility and coordination.

While disheartened fitness enthusiasts can resort to the typical spot-jogging and calisthenics routine in the absence of a gym, treadmill or joggers track, burpees offer a cardio workout with the intensity of a few sprints, and target almost all the muscle groups that one would work out in the gym.

As simple as they are effective, burpees can be performed by anyone who has practised squats, push-ups or has worked out regularly for a few months. The simplest form of burpees comprises a push-up and a jump. And while it sounds simple, it can be quite gruelling, and pose an interesting challenge.

Here’s how to go about it: stand with legs apart, go down into a squat position with both hands flat on the floor, jump back into a push-up position, perform the push-up, rise again to the same position, jump back to the squat with arms on the floor, and then jump as high as you can with both arms raised. This is considered one repetition.

Around five to eight repetitions per set, and a total of six to eight sets on an average is recommended, depending on the individual’s fitness level and efficacy. Initially, the rhythm might be slow, but when the pattern becomes muscle memory, you will find the tempo gradually increasing, and you’ll be able to complete more reps over time.

Experts believe that burpees are one of the most versatile exercises, as they involve almost all the joints. While new intense variations can be improvised, your heart will pound within just a few repetitions – this high-intensity interval training will help improve body composition and cardiovascular efficiency. Like in a Surya Namaskar, the compound movement helps in strengthening muscles. Besides being highly effective for weight loss and muscle-toning, they can be immensely gratifying when you get through them.

Along with the popular varieties, burpees also come in other forms. The Pull and Push-up ‘Body Blaster’ Burpee, where a pull-up follows the push-up, Jump-over Burpee ( jumping over an obstacle during burpee), One-armed Burpee, Long jump Burpee (the athlete jumps forward rather than upwards), Knee Push-up Burpee (performing the push-up with knees on the ground) to name a few.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 12:02:21 PM |

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