“Who’s in it with me?” Those five words sparked an exciting season of health, strength, and self-discipline for Anna Quinlan, mom of two living in Sacramento. The question was posted online by one of her close friends, Julie, who had just challenged herself to do 50 burpees a day for 30 days.
After a few days of humming hawing, Anna joined in on the challenge. “I probably spent more time agonizing over getting them done than I did actually doing them. There was always an available excuse for procrastinating: too hot, too tired, too sore, too busy, too hungry, too full, too good a hair day to get sweaty,” she recalls. (1)
But she found that once she got started, getting her burpees done every day was actually not as hard as she expected it to be. “Once I got that first set of 10 done on any given day, though, I knew I was in the clear — just a few minutes away from having one more day of momentum behind me. I learned to get started on my daily dose of burpees the second I thought about it.” (1) Sound advice for starting any new healthy habit!
Anna admits that she didn’t actually do the 30-day challenge all at once. Her routine was interrupted by a camping trip (and a little “recuperating” afterward), but she refused to feel guilty for falling off the wagon and started again with even more determination.
She was also surprised at how effective this simple exercise was at engaging her entire body. It’s cardio, core, arms, legs, and butt all at once. “My entire body was sore for the entire first week. I worked up a genuine sweat every single time, even on day 30,” Anna says. (1)
What’s Anna’s advice to anyone who’s considering joining the 30-day burpee challenge? Don’t be scared by the numbers. “I always broke it down into five sets of 10, taking as much or as little rest between each set as I needed (usually less than a minute). Once I realized that even on my slowest, most unmotivated days I could get it done in less than 10 minutes, it felt easier,” she encourages.
Of course, she also recommends doing the challenge with a buddy so you both have somebody to hold yourselves accountable to. Now the only question remains… Who’s in?
How to do a Burpee Correctly
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your center of gravity over your heels.
2. Bend your knees and push back your hips into a low squat.
3. Place your hands on the floor, centered just in front of your feet. Move your center of gravity to your palms.
4. Hop your feet back behind you to a standard plank position. Don’t lock your elbows. Engage the muscles of your arms and core. Imagine a straight line running from the top of your head to the back of your heels.
5. Optional: Do a push up from this plank position.
6. With your hands still on the ground, hop your feet back into a squat position.
7. From your low squat, jump as high as you can into the air, reaching your arms over your head.
8. The moment you land, get back into your low squat and keep repeating the cycle.
Burpee Low Impact Modifications
You can use low impact burpee modifications to still get a complete body workout without putting pressure on your joints.
For weak or injured knees: Instead of jumping from a low squat position at the end of your burpee, just stand up. You can add alternating straight leg raises to replace the jump.
For weak or injured wrists: Instead of hopping your feet in and out of the plank position, just walk your legs back one step at a time. You can also use a towel under your hands to take off additional pressure.
How to Make Your Burpees More Challenging
Option 1: Do your burpees with a plyometric box / step platform in front of you. Jump straight onto the box at the end of your burpee for a tougher challenge for your quads.
Option 2: Do one-legged burpees. Keep your left leg straight behind you as you bend into a squat position, hop back into a plank position, and then back. Next, repeat with your right leg straight behind you.
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