What many athletes fail to realize, however, is that there are infinite variations, regressions, and progressions of the original version. Here's what a move needs to qualify as a burpee: a squat, thrust, and a hop. Then, get creative. “You can add a strength component by adding dumbbells or kettlebells and you can add instability by using Swiss balls, BOSU balls, a TRX, and more,” says Liles. No matter how you spice them up, burpees are excellent for developing strong shoulders and powerful quads while burning fat. “Very few exercises match the benefits of the dreaded burpee.”
Pick one or two of these moves to sprinkle into your routine at a time (or use them as a metabolic finisher). Liles recommends doing them for time rather than reps. Start with one minute and work your way up to one and a half minutes, completing as many reps as possible in that time.
*Stay tuned for the second set of moves in this two-part series.
From the bottom of a squat with both feet flat, place your hands on the floor and jump back to plank. Jump and forward again, grab the kettlebell, stand up, and wrap the kettlebell around your head as if you were putting on a jacket. Bring it back to your chest, squat, and set it down. Repeat.
Start with one foot on a Swiss ball behind you. Bend the front knee and hop up, pressing your back foot lightly into the ball for stability. After the landing, place your hands on the floor and jump the other foot on top of the ball so that you're planking on it. From there, do a pike by raising your hips up while keeping your legs straight. Return the original foot to the floor and repeat. Do an even number of reps on each side.
Start in plank position. Jack your feet open and closed as if you were doing a jumping jack. From there, jump your feet forward to under your chest, stand up, and do a star jump by hopping and simulating a jumping jack before your feet hit the floor. Jump back down to plank and repeat.
Do a plyometric push-up where your hands (and feet if possible) come off the floor. (Be sure to control the landing.) Jump your feet forward, stand, and add a tuck jump, bringing your knees into your chest. Land, jump back into plank, and repeat.
Jump up, place hands on floor, and walk them forward into plank. From there, jump your feet towards your hands, stand up, and jump again. Place your hands back on the floor and jump your feet back to plank. Then, walk your hands to your feet, stand up, and repeat.
Starting on your left side with left foot on floor and right leg in the air, skate jump over to your right, planting the right foot and keeping the left leg in the air. Drop your hands and jump your right leg back to a single leg plank, keeping your left foot in the air. Stand up and hop onto your left foot with your right foot up. Drop onto your hands once again, jumping your left foot back and forward while the right leg stays in the air. Jump back, stand up, and repeat.