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You  love ‘em or you hate ‘em.  Lets face it unless you are really demented they mostly suck – but why.  From a physiology stand point it is damn near the most work you can do using your body weight.  You full body weight goes all the way to the floor, back up in a plyometric move then a jump to move your entire bodyweight off the ground.  Do the math – Work = Force x Distance and Force = Mass x Acceleration (I knew that Physics degree was going to be handy…).  Let’s say your center of gravity is 4’6” off the ground and your weight 150lbs.  Minimal effort to get to the ground (if you do it right) but it is not zero unless you want to crash at 32.2 feet/sec­2 – then 150lbs back up to 4’6” plus the jump, lets call it 5’ for round numbers and easy math.  So with the effort to get your weight down safely and the thrust to get your feet under you (we’ll call that conservatively 50 ft/lbs of work) we are roughly now 200 lbs of work – so that is 1000 ft/lbs of work.  Lets say you are cranking them out as fast as you can and you are getting one burpees every 3 seconds (fast but not unrealistic, you can get 2 per second pretty easy…) so in 60 seconds you get 20 burpees – 20*1000 ft/lbs = 20,000 ft/lbs of work in 1 minute – that is about 2/3hp and trust me that is HUGE!  Just a small example – if you are on a road bike, level ground you would be going easily 25+ mph… If you want to check out power output for various exercise – here is a link

That is why burpees are tough – large load, over a long distance in a short amount of time.  So what.  The “so what” is that life rewards work done.  Life rewards power output.  And guess what 150 burpees for time builds besides power out put…mental toughness like you read about!   That’s not all – they are useful for in life.  Especially for Mil/LEO/Fire types – survival is fire and maneuver and that is what a burpee is – down fast then up fast move, back down before someone can see track and engage.  The usefulness in sports is easy to see, you fall down in soccer, fall down in football — enter the burpee and you are back up and on your feet moving.  Dive in volleyball, racquetball – same thing.  Maybe you are at a bar trying to make an impression on someone and you trip – the burpee can be your salvation and total recovery of your cool points – ok maybe that’s a stretch but you get the idea.

So what do you think about burpees…post you thoughts / ideas…



  1. zach even - esh  December 14, 2010

    Burpees are NOT my favorite but El Quatro motivated me to get them cranking TIGHT!

  2. Anonymous  December 14, 2010

    Do you actually know where a person’s center of mass is? (Hint: it sure isn’t 54″ off the ground)

  3. groo  December 14, 2010

    Hey anonymous smartass-

    Enlighten us, where is it?

  4. Nikol Burton  December 14, 2010

    Life as Rx’d says it well BUCK FURBEES! My love/hate relationship is embraced often. Hee hee.

  5. Meegs  December 14, 2010

    If you do have a good ref for Center of Mass that would be great – you are right I took a stab it and being 6’5″ I figured about 2 feet lower.

  6. George  December 16, 2010

    Burpees suck the wind out of me, that’s my problem. When going fast they bring on an asthma attack or serious problems breathing….

    That’s my issue with them. I’m 6’2 185-195…

  7. Keith M  December 16, 2010

    I am working on loving them…not working so far.

  8. Laura M  December 17, 2010

    My oldest son who got me hooked on CrossFit introduced me to burpees as our first workout together. There is my love hate relationship. Hate burpees, love my son, so I keep doing them.

  9. SpongeBob PhysicsPants  December 20, 2010

    Center of mass in humans is a little below the belly button on most individuals. That’s almost the geometric center, too.

  10. Keith  December 20, 2010

    LOL @ George. I set out to do 100 weighted ones today, got through 8, and decided I was tired.

  11. tcrowe  January 7, 2011

    When I started getting stronger, burpees started getting easier.

    Crossfit Downey

  12. Greg  September 7, 2011

    I started doing burpees when I got tired of doing 40 minutes of interval sprints on an incline treadmill. The burpees are harder, without a doubt. They are without the constant load on my knees too. On my first day, I did 100 in sets of 10. I was convinced when I was done that I needed to make this exercise part of my rotation. Fantastic results so far. Never bored with them.

  13. Tara Tooley  February 25, 2012

    Just found this ….. It made me feel better about my OPEN Burpee score today.

  14. Megan  February 26, 2013

    I know this thread is old but if George ever reads this again, I have the same exact problem with my asthma. If there are burpees onnthe workout I can literally plan on having to use my emergency inhaler. Relatively low incidence of attacks during WODs otherwise. Is it simply an over exertion standpoint or something different? Maybe repeatedly slamming your thoracic cavity to the ground? lol any insight is appreciated!