The term has a funny ring to it doesn’t it? It sounds more like a gastrointestinal method rather than a fitness exercise. But the burpee exercise is probably one of the most recognizable forms of drills, only you did not know that it was called that. The burpee exercise is otherwise known as the squat thrust, a form of exercise that is usually used in military drills as a form of exercise, punishment (gulp!), test of endurance, test of mettle and test of strength.
The origins of the burpee exercise are not clear. The Oxford English Dictionary states that the burpee exercise was named after the 1930’s figure Royal H Burpee, an American psychologist who developed the Burpee test. This test comprised of a series of movements done in rapid succession which is meant to determine that person’s level of agility and coordination. It is not clear though if Mr. Burpee developed the exercise or if he simply popularized it. Another plausible theory is that the Burpee exercise was developed by an officer in the New Hampshire Militia, Lt. Thomas Burpee during the Revolutionary War. It is said that Lt Burpee may have used a series of independent military drills such as the squat and the pushup to build endurance for his team, a means of discipline and also a means of keeping the body warm during the cold New Hampshire winters.
The original burpee move is pretty simple, but there are many variations to it. To perform the burpee, you need to take the following steps:
1. Start in a standing position. Extend your arms over your head then bend down and touch the floor in preparation for assuming a plank position, arms extended and perpendicular to the ground. Your feet should extend to its position at the same time. You should be ready to do push ups at this point.
2. Do a push up by lowering your body until it almost touches the ground then back up again.
3. Propel your feet forward to help you assume an upright position, extending your arms over your heads again. Repeat same drill for about 1 minute.
The easier version of the burpee that is more suitable for beginners is to bring the feet back one at a time and minus the push up. This is less strenuous on the body and will enable you to do more complete repetitions. This does not do too much for your endurance but it still nevertheless burns calories.
Other variations of the burpee exercise include the long jump burpee (where a person jumps forward instead of jumping upward), box-jump burpee (the person jumps onto a box or a step) and one arm burpee (where the person uses just one arm for the pushup the entire time).