The Burpee: King of All Exercises

There may be no greater single exercise than the burpee.  It is,  perhaps, the only exercise equally adept at preparing you for the  physical challenges of life, as it is at preparing you for the mental and emotional battles you will inevitably face. 

The burpee is a full body, multi-dimensional exercise that is complex in its simplicity.  To do one, you need only to stand in one position,  fall to the ground until you are flat prone.  From there,  jump up to your feet and into the air with hands above your head.  Extend your hips, knees and spine.  Although simple, they are the hardest damn things you may ever do in your life.  Especially when strung together several dozen at a time.

When done correctly, the burpee works nearly all of the muscles in  your body at once - in every rep.  It does so in ways that your body  naturally moves.  This makes the burpee nearly perfect for functional use and  transferability into daily life. 

While taxing most of the major muscle groups it also taxes multiple  energy systems.  This means you gain strength, stamina and  cardiovascular prowess while doing burpees.  When done for the purpose of  optimal health, you also gain max efficiency and effectiveness from  workouts that include them. 

Physical improvement isn't the only thing burpees have to offer.  The  symbolism of performing burpees and overcoming the challenges they  present has never been lost on me.  It is one of the reasons I like them  so much and consistently program them into your workouts.  

Learning to like burpees did not come easily.  It was pounded into me  by one of my HS football coaches.  Coach Barrus loved burpees.  Back then we called them "up-downs."  He made us do thousands of them  and he had a real knack for making them extra painful.  He'd have us doing up-downs  in the sweltering, summer midday sun as readily as in the "nut numbing" cold.  We'd do them in the mud, on gravel, on black top, etc.  Once he  threatened to make us do them over in the sticker weeds next to the  football field just to toughen us up and make us move faster.  The guy  was a master of pure misery and while he was making us pound out burpee  after miserable burpee he'd teach us lessons of life AT FULL VOLUME!   One thing I'll never forget him saying was:

"NOTHING hurts more than this...if you are tough enough to get up  and do more of these, you'll be tough enough to get up and shake it off  when it counts."  

I think coach's words hold more truth today than they did back then.   And so, for this reason plus all the reasons above, I LOVE burpees.  I  believe they are as effective, well-rounded, and meaningful as they are  painful.  Therefore, in MY book, they remain: King of All Exercises.