Updated: Sep 13
This exercise has been around forever. It’s pretty simple. You get down on the floor, stand back up, then jump. Seems harmless right?
It just so happens to be one of the worst exercises for the majority of people in the gym.
Not only can it get you hurt, but there happen to be tons of better options to get you fit and keep you healthy.
In this article I will lay out all the potential risks associated with performing burpees. Along with that I will give you much more joint friendly exercises and methods that will get you better results in the long term.
Why You Shouldn’t Do Burpees
When it comes to burpees, there are some big downsides. One of those is the impact it has on your joint health. As you age this becomes more and more important, especially if you don’t have as much cushion in those joints like you used to.
Doing excessive amounts of high impact exercises can beat up your joints and leave them achey and inflamed. This will mean extra time sitting at home on the mend, or worse, pushing through the pain and ending up in a doctor’s office.
Another downside is the fact that burpees just aren’t the best when it comes to getting the results you want.
Want to get stronger?
Burpees won’t get you there like traditional resistance training would. Focusing on movements one at a time and progressively getting stronger will always yield better results in strength than combination movements like burpees.
Want to improve your cardio?
Burpees are actually great when it comes to cardiovascular exercise. However, that cost on the joints just isn’t worth it when there are so many better options out there.
But what about if I just want to burn calories?
Back to strength training. You can stress more muscles doing multiple exercises which will lead to you burning more calories in the long run. If all you do is burpees, you are leaving a lot on the table and potentially creating imbalances.
For strength development, you can take the burpee and simply deconstruct it into 3 movements.
The burpee is basically a squat, a pushup, and a jump squat.
You can do these in the traditional way. That would be a few sets of squats, then moving onto pushups, then jump squats. Another option could be to turn them into a circuit. This would give you more of a benefit when it comes to cardiovascular endurance. So instead of a potentially harmful burpee, you now have all the benefits with much lower risk and greater reward.
If you want more info on how to make your own strength workout, click here.
Let’s say you aren’t as interested in the strength and want to do burpees for that explosive power. There are a couple better options when it comes to power development that won’t beat you up quite as bad.
These other options are:
1. Medicine Ball Throws: wall passes, slams on the floor, rotational slams, single leg slams, squat & slams, etc.
2. Barbell & Kettlebell Exercises: swings, cleans, snatches, etc.
3. Jumps for low reps (3-5): broad jumps, vertical jumps, lateral jumps, jumping jack squats, etc.
If you include pauses, 1 1/2 reps, or any other way to challenge those exercises you have hundreds of different combinations for power exercises that are better than burpees. All of which will get you better results while feeling amazing.
Cardiovascular exercises come in many different forms. For simplicity we can break it up into two different categories, intervals and steady state.
Intervals are exercises done for short bursts of time followed immediately with adequate rest.
Some of the most common ones are:
20 seconds fast 40 seconds rest
30 seconds fast 30 seconds rest
1 minute fast 1 minute rest
TABATA (20 seconds fast 10 seconds rest)
These time splits can be done with cardio equipment like rowers, ski erg, sleds, assault bikes. They can also be done with exercises like farmer carries, different types of planks, wall sits, etc.
You can even combine machines or sprints with one or two of those exercises to create a circuit. Different combos with these options can be really helpful in keeping variety so that your workouts don’t go stale.
The other option would be steady state cardio.
This is best done with walking, jogging, or one of the cardio machines like rower, ski erg, or the assault bike.
This can be done anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour or two depending on your goal. Steady state cardio is great for overall health. However, it also can be rough on your joints if the mileage for the week gets to be too much.
Burpees simply are not a good idea when it comes to your workouts. They are starting to die out, and for good reason. They provide very little and the risk heavily outweighs the reward.
You have so many tools at your disposal. With a little creativity and some attention to your programming, you can get amazing results without the unnecessary pain.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable writing a workout program, that’s completely understandable. That’s why I have made a month long burpee free program.
This is completely free to anyone. Just reach out to me at email@example.com to get your program today!