We all know that running is a great form of exercise. Building muscular endurance, running helps tone muscles from the abs to the hip flexors and down to the calves. But in order to be a faster and stronger runner, we must incorporate other forms of exercise to work unused and neglected muscles. And there is no better move for a full body workout than the burpee.
Burpees tend to hurt so good in all the right ways—just ask a Spartan racer. (Failed obstacles at these events call for series of burpees.) Many runners have a long/hate relationship with the exercise. That’s because it does require lots of stamina, and engages essentially every muscle in the body. But the benefits are worth every bead of sweat. And as physical fitness increases, the love—or at least appreciation—for them improves.
Benefits of Burpees for Runners
Burpees are an exercise that uses the runner’s body weight. This is a great form of cardio, which will get the heart rate up and blood flowing. It burns lots of calories, but since this varies based on body weight, results differ.
For runners, it’s a great way to engage muscles that running doesn’t stress. This includes the arms, chest, and shoulders. It also strengthens the lower back, which provides stability and enhances form when running.
Along with also working out quadriceps, hip flexors, abdominous muscle, hamstrings and the gluteus maximus, doing burps benefits runners because it helps shave off time from their pace.
This is because of the increase in strength and endurance. Plus it helps produce power, which for runners means a faster pace. In short, the runner becomes stronger and leaner, and thus can performer faster and longer. Their body becomes conditioned to be able to handle the workout. As a result, they become more fit and more stamina. So expect to run faster without more effort and for a longer period of time, having the energy to go the distance.
Runners can warm up with burpees, or do a few and them sprint and repeat to see maximum benefits. This includes burning fat, building muscles, increasing core strength and boosting anaerobic threshold, the point when lactic acid accumulates in the muscles.
Some runners noticed an increase in energy when doing burpees consistently. This is because of the release of endorphins released when doing them, which leaves a happiness hangover, if you will, throughout the day.
How To Do A Proper Burpee
Just like running, burpees can be done anywhere. It costs nothing (like a gym membership) and doesn’t require equipment (like weights), just proper athletic socks or sports shoes (depending on what you feel more comfortable in).
However, proper form is key. The butt must stay low, with a flat back in the push-up position. The back should not be bent when in the squat position.
To do a proper burpee, the runner must start with their feet firmly on the ground, weight in the heels while standing shoulder width apart. Squat down, pushing the hips back and to put the hands on the floor and get into plank position. Make sure the body forms a straight line.
Some variations call for the runner to then use the arms to do a push-up. Push-up or not, then jump the feet back together and in to be under the body. Use their legs to lift back up from the ground and jump into the air, lifting the arms in the sky.
That is one burpee.
Switch It Up
Once the runner gets down the form of a traditional burpee they can switch it up and add different variations of the exercise. This helps prevent boredom and again, keeps the muscles guessing.
Variations include a single-leg burpee. The runner starts standing on one leg, crouch down with hands to the ground on one leg still, then kick back the legs, with that same leg still raised.
Other types include reverse burpees, which consist of a squat and then rolling back to on the back with knees tucked in. Then, roll back up to a squat and jump up. Additionally, lunge burpees are similar but add a lunge before the jump.
How Many Burpees Should Runners Do?
They say just five burpees reveal how fit a runner is. It might take time to master the exercise, but it is so worth it. These can be done as a warmup before a run combined with some reps of squats, lunges, and knee raises to get the body warmed up. Do a few mid-run to touch more calories and increase that heart rate. Burpees can even be done alone when looking to build endurance on cross-training days.
The amount of calories burned varies on the amount of intensity of the movement, as well as weight. If a 155 lb. person did the exercise for an hour, they will burn about 563 calories. Of course, adding variations to the movements increases the energy used and calories burned.
Beginners should start with anywhere from 10-12 per day to build endurance. Work up to 25-30 per day to really see results.
- 12 Minute Athlete: Five Reasons Why Burpees Should Be Your Favorite Exercise
- Greatist: How to do the Perfect Burpee