By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
The coronavirus has left many with no option other than to quarantine and work at home. With businesses, libraries, and movie theaters closed, many are having to get creative with how they spend time inside their house.
While I’m already adapting to a different work schedule, I’ve also been thinking about the best way to get in some exercise while away from the gym, especially while having no fitness equipment at my home.
If you’re like me, you like to work out with some entertainment in the background. Whether I have my favorite playlist blaring through earbuds as I rock my burpees workout or have the big game playing on my flatscreen, I prefer my fitness with a side of media. Luckily, I’ve found that a burpees workout can be one of the best strategies to work up a sweat and burn calories, all right in front of my TV!
While the burpee might seem like a simple exercise with no equipment, its high-intensity nature means you can pack in a great workout in just a few minutes.
While burpees might not be as well-known as a traditional squat or pushup, don’t let the unorthodox name fool you.
The exercise has been around since the 1930s, named after American psychologist Royal H. Burpee. While no one is quite sure who “invented” the burpee, the psychologist gets credit since he developed a fitness test centered around the exercise to measure agility and coordination while working for the Greater New York YMCA.
Why are burpees so popular? They’re a fitness exercise that involves many of the body’s big muscle groups, they quickly get the heart pumping, and can be almost endlessly modified to accommodate the beginner, or serve as one of the toughest bodyweight exercises for the fittest among us.
A simple burpee is a four or six-count exercise. Starting from a standing position, you’ll want to squat until your hands are on the ground.
Next, hop your feet backward, so you enter a full plank position, then jump your feet back close to your hands. Return to a standing position after bringing your feet out wide. Now you’ve done one full burpee.
Burpees are a great exercise because you can have the TV on right in front of you while working out. You can even knock out a few between commercials!
A good starting point with a burpees workout is to simply time yourself and see how many you can do in a couple of minutes. Then rest or stretch for a few minutes to let your body recover. If you have a home pull-up bar, set it up close to your TV and combine burpees with a strength training exercise like the pull-up for an extra challenge.
Since the burpee is a bodyweight exercise, you might be curious about ways to make it simpler, especially if this is your first time trying burpees.
A great way to slow down a burpee and give your body a bit of extra time is to step your feet instead of quickly hopping them. Elevating your hands on a bench or incline also reduces stress on the body since the distance between the up to down position is less.
Are you a fitness expert who’s ready for a real challenge with the burpee? The burpee is one of the best cardio exercises out there due to how much variety you can integrate.
If you’re looking to take your TV burpee workout to the next level, simply increase your speed or try one of the many burpee variations.
Rower Burpee: If you have a barbell or dumbbells in your home, simply perform a bent-over row before you complete another burpee for an added challenge.
Broad Jump Burpee: After each burpee, add in a long jump across your living room or exercise spot at home.
Burpee With T-Stand: While you’re in the full plank or push-up position, rotate so your left and right hand reaches up to the sky. Once you’ve done both sides, hop your feet forward and continue the exercise. This gives your muscles a great stretch.
Burpees With a Lunge: Simply lunge on your right and left side between burpees to give your legs an additional workout.
Hopscotch Burpee: While you’re in a full plank or pushup position, hop your feet out further than hip width apart and bring them back even closer together than during a normal burpee.
These are just a few of the many types of burpees variations you can try. Adjust the incline for each of these variations to make the exercise easier or harder or add in some pushups to give your muscles an extra burn.
Exercising at home in front of the TV does not mean your workouts have to be simple and basic. Combining the burpee with other effective exercises can make it easy for you to knock out a whole body workout in even just a few minutes.
Burpees are considered a plyometric exercise, a category of aerobic activity that primes the body to enhance speed and endurance by challenging the muscles over a short period of high intensity.
Squats are one of the best at-home whole body exercise options, especially if you combine them with burpees. Bodyweight squats help sculpt a powerful and fit lower body while working your shoulders and adding extra strength to your back.
If you have a kettlebell, swinging this exercise tool is a great way to burn fat and increase your power. I like to slowly swing the kettlebell in between sets of burpees to stretch out my body and give my fast-twitch muscles a bit of a break. Sure, it can get pretty intense, but I have to stay focused on my workout while my favorite TV show is on!
Another great whole body exercise to incorporate with burpees are box jumps. These burn major calories, increase the heart rate, and go a long way toward increasing your overall lower body strength.
Just make sure you’re jumping on a piece of specialized equipment for box jumps or a sturdy, raised surface. You don’t want to risk injury by picking the wrong item to jump on.
Time spent in isolation at home doesn’t mean your workout regimen has to fall by the wayside. Even just a few burpees will get your blood pumping and start to burn calories.
Simply clear some space in front of your TV and get exercising! I’m sure you’ll find your strength and stamina increased once you’re able to step back into the gym again.