If you were to tell me you know someone who genuinely likes doing burpees, I’d have a hard time believing you. The burpee is one of the most vilified exercises out there (if not the most), and honestly, there are good reasons.
Burpees are hard. They’re meant to be. The goal is to do them as quickly as possible, so that your heart rate skyrockets. Some trainers like them because of this—a burpee really is a challenging, efficient, total-body cardio exercise. But other trainers hate them. Most famously, celebrity trainer Ben Bruno is quite vocal about how awful he thinks burpees are. The biggest criticisms: Many people can’t do them right, which increases the risk of injury, and more simply, a lot of people dread them. And being forced to do something you hate isn’t the best way to fall in love with exercise and get motivated to do it long term.
I, personally, feel pretty neutral about burpees. I don’t despise them (I actually dislike mountain climbers more), but I don’t particularly like them. I’m fine with doing them for 30 seconds here and there as part of a larger workout. But a burpee is not an exercise I’d ever do while working out on my own—I’m only doing them in a class when an instructor is telling me to do so.
“Burpees hurt no matter who you are, from the most regressed version to the hardest variation of a burpee,” says Morit Summers, certified personal trainer and owner of FORM Fitness Brooklyn. “They are hard and no one truly enjoys pain.” But just like any other exercise move, practicing burpees can make you better at them and hopefully hate them less. “They can become easier to swallow with practice. Your body will get used to doing them and you will be more prepared, so it won’t be as mentally challenging as it was before,” says Summers.
But also, if you don’t want to do burpees, take this as your permission to give them up forever. There are plenty of other exercises you can do instead to reap the same benefits—ones that you might actually enjoy.
Here, Summers shares a few great burpee substitutes that you can do in place of, or to work up to, a burpee, depending on where you stand on the issue. Feel free to share this with all the fellow burpee-haters you know out there. We know you’re not the only one.
Demoing the move below are Cookie Janee, a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Rachel Denis, a powerlifter who competes with USA Powerlifting and holds multiple New York state powerlifting records; and Kira Stokes, celebrity trainer, group fitness instructor, and creator of the Kira Stokes Fit app.
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