Photo by Kat Wirsing
There’s no denying it’s pretty dang empowering to stop, drop, and push your way through a few rounds of burpees. But this move isn’t exactly easy, so it must be doing SOMETHING amazing for your body.
As it turns out, all that jumping, pressing, and sweating makes burpees a fantastic full-body, functional exercise. “It stimulates a fight or flight response within our bodies that can help us improve reaction time, mobility, and quality of life,” says Danielle Gray, certified personal trainer and creator of Train Like a Gymnast.
That’s what makes the idea of a burpee challenge so appealing. What better way to whip yourself into shape from head-to-toe than 30 days of burpees?
The Benefits of Burpees Are Impressive
This badass move “targets almost every muscle group in your body in microseconds,” says Gray. And if you do enough burpees in the long term, that can translate to major muscle sculpting, like stronger arms with triceps definition and toned legs, just to name a few perks.
The cardio benefits are also incredible, adds Gray. "Burpees help you build strength and cardio endurance at the same time, which is why so many people turn to this exercise as a go-to for efficiency and productivity." All of a sudden bounding up and down the stairs in your house will feel a whole lot easier.
How To Do A Burpee
If you’re new to the burpee: Start by squatting down with legs shoulder-width apart, put hands on floor, then step feet back one at a time. Hold the plank for a beat, then reverse the movement to return to start.
A common mistake among beginners: Putting a hand on your knee to help yourself stand up. Instead, keep your hands on the floor as you step the feet in, and work on standing up from that squat by squeezing your glutes.
If you’re ready to do the perfect burpee: Start standing with feet together, squeeze glutes, then jump up, keeping toes pointed. As you land, jump back into a high plank position. Hold it for a beat, then jump back to start and then up in the air again. That's one rep.
While the standard version of this move is already a standout, Women’s Health teamed up with Gray to create a 30-day burpee challenge designed to help you level-up your burpee game and improve your strength and cardio endurance as a result.
If you can do eight to 12 reps of a standard burpee with perfect form, you’re cleared to try this challenge.
Your Burpee Challenge Game Plan
Ready to get started? Gray put together five of her favorite burpee variations for you to tackle throughout the challenge. Each one is slightly more advanced than your average burpee and designed for optimal strength and cardio benefits.
To participate in the challenge, follow along with the calendar above, and complete the specified burpee. For the first week, plan to do 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps of the daily burpee variation. Then, add a set each week to increase the challenge.
“Be sure to log your progress,” says Gray. “Keep a journal, and rate the difficulty level from 1 to 10 each day; see how it changes overall by the end.” This will help you track how your strength and endurance improves each week. (You’ll notice a difference—trust us!)
Never heard of a donkey kick burpee or tumbling burpee? Don't worry, Gray demos each move below, and offers all the form tips you need.
How to: Start in a standing position with arms at sides. Jump up and lift right arm into the air. After landing, bend over and press hand into ground. Hop feet back into a single-arm plank position, with hips at the same height as shoulders. Engage core and hop legs back to meet hand. Stand back up straight to starting position. That’s one rep. Watch a demo here.
Single-Arm Side Burpee
How to: Start in a standing position, with hands at sides. Jump up and lift both hands into air. Squat down, lean to the right and press right hand into ground, then jump feet to the side so body is in a side plank position (stagger your feet if needed). Engage your obliques to reverse the movement and return to start. That’s one rep. Watch a demo here.
Sit-Up Candlestick Burpee
How to: Start in standing position, with arms at sides. Press hands together and hold in front of chest. Jump up, then squat down until butt touches ground. Roll back so lower back touches ground, and extend arms and legs into hollow hold position. Hold for a second, then curl upper body to meet legs. In one swift motion, press hands into ground in front of feet, and jump legs back into plank position. Lower down into a pushup, and at the top, jump back to start. That’s one rep. Watch a demo here.
How to: Start by standing at the edge of mat, with hands at sides. Fold body in half, until hands touch ground, bending knees if needed. Tuck chin into chest, squat, place head on the ground, and roll forward. When feet touch ground at the end, use momentum to press hands into mat, and jump feet backward into a high plank position. Complete a pushup, then hop back to start. That’s one rep. Watch a demo here.
Donkey Kick Burpee
How to: Start standing, with hands at sides. Hop up into the air. As you land, squat down, press hands into ground, and jump into the air, higher than shoulder height. Let feet land directly under body, then hop up. That’s one rep. Watch a demo here.