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Upgrade the Burpee

A contemporary approach to a traditional gym favorite
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When you’re looking for a high-intensity burst during a workout, the burpee can be a great choice. It’s a compound exercise (meaning it targets multiple muscle groups), it’s metabolically demanding so it drives your heart rate up, and it can be scaled to suit a wide range of fitness levels and abilities. Whether you love it, hate it, or love to hate it, you’ve likely endured it in a gym class, bootcamp, or home workout.

Created in the 1930’s by American exercise physiologist, Royal Burpee, the move was originally designed as a test of physical fitness. It comprised four strict steps:

  1. From standing, bend your knees and fold forward, placing your hands flat on the ground in front of you.
  2. With arms straight, jump your legs back behind you into a plank position.
  3. Jump your legs back in.
  4. Return to standing.

Different but still the same

Over the 90 years since its creation, the burpee has been modified and intensified to provide a range of ways that it can be performed. No matter the intensity of the variation, most still have one thing in common–they move only through the sagittal plane. (Imagine lunging forward or backwards as if on train tracks; this movement occurs in the sagittal plane.)

Many of the traditional exercises that we perform in the gym (such as squats, push ups, deadlifts and chin ups) focus on movement in the sagittal plane. Well-functioning bodies are designed to move through all planes, with as much freedom as possible. This means that expanding the range of exercises we do in order to encompass more variety can be a positive strategy for improving our movement quality.

Upgrading the burpee: Animal Flow style

Novel and varied motion is in Animal Flow’s DNA. Provided you practice a wide range of components from the program, you’ll be exposed to movement through all planes. We took the premise of the burpee (multi-joint, high intensity and scalable) and ran it through the Animal Flow filter, adding rotation and increasing the demand for stability.

Choose from the options below, aiming to perform as many good quality reps as possible in 30 – 60 seconds. Be sure to alternate sides and remember to only go as fast as you can control!

Follow along with Korean Master Instructor, Jeseung Lee, and be sure to check out Animal Flow On Demand for tutorials of the movements.




Find full tutorials on Side Kickthrough, Jumping Side Kickthrough, Levitating Side Kickthrough, Underswitch and more at Animal Flow On Demand. Start your 14-day free trial by visiting ondemand.animalflow.com today!