Burpees – Whether you love them or hate them, they need to be a staple in your workout routine. They are a great full-body cardio exercise and a great way to work your entire core.
The Basic Burpee works your shoulders, chest, triceps, abs, quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Basically, they work out your entire body while getting your heart beating and blood pumping.
To do the Basic Burpee, start standing tall with your feet about hip-width apart. Then bend over and place your hands on the ground right in front of your feet as you jump your feet back into a high plank position. Then perform a push up, dropping your chest down to the ground.
Push back up to the top of the push up and jump your feet into your hands. Come back to standing and jump up off the ground before repeating the movement. If you can’t perform a full push up, you may drop to your knees for the push up or cut out the push up completely.
And while the Basic Burpee is a great full-body cardio exercise, it is fun to sometimes mix things up to keep things interesting. With a few changes to the Basic Burpee, you can emphasis specific muscle groups and even target other muscles such as your obliques and back.
Below are 5 fun variations of the Basic Burpee to work your entire body while getting in a great cardio workout!
1. Burpee Sit Thru
The Burpee Sit Thru is a great core-intensive variation that will really work your obliques.
To do the Burpee Sit Thru, start standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Then bend down and place your hands on the ground in front of your feet as you jump your feet back. Jump your feet back so that your knees are under your hips and your hands are under your shoulders. Do not jump all the way back into the high plank position like you would for the Basic Burpee.
From this bent-knee Bulldog position, kick one leg under your body and through as you lift the opposite hand to allow you to “sit through.” Bring that leg back under and across your body as you lower your hand back down.
Come back to that center Bulldog position and then sit through on the other side. You will again kick the leg under your body and through as you lift your opposite hand. You want to rotate all the way through so that you could actually sit if you lost your balance.
Once you’ve performed a sit thru to both sides, moving as quickly as possible, jump your feet back into your hands. Jump your feet out wide so that they are just outside your hands and then perform a squat jump before repeating the burpee.
Beginners may need to do this from more of a plank position since having your knees bent in the Bulldog position requires more mobility as well as a stronger core. Remember to move as quickly as you can.
2. Renegade Row Burpee
Work your core and back even more with the Renegade Row Burpee variation. This move will also help improve your shoulder stability; however, you will want to be careful starting out if you have shoulder issues.
To do the Renegade Row Burpee, start standing with your feet about hip-width apart and dumbbells in each hand down by your sides.
Then squat down and hinge over to place the weights on the ground in front of your feet. As you place the weights down, jump your feet back into a high plank position with your feet about hip-width to shoulder-width apart. The closer together your feet are, the harder your core will have to work to fight the rotation during the row.
From the high plank position, row one dumbbell up to your side, driving your elbow down and back toward the ceiling as you row. You want to row the weight up so it hits at about your chest, but you do not want to shrug your shoulder. Focus on your back working to row the weight up.
Lower the weight down and row the other dumbbell up. Fight the urge to rotate open as you row. Keep your body in a nice straight line from your head to your heals. Really focus on squeezing your glutes and keeping your hips still and your butt down.
After a row on each side, jump your feet up to your hands and stand up nice and tall before repeating the move. To make the move a little easier, you can also bring your hands in closer together to almost position your arms and feet as a tripod. This will give you more stability as you row.
Move quickly, but not at the expense of wiggling your hips or letting your core break down during the row. You can also use heavier weights to challenge your back more.
3. Spiderman Burpees
Another great core-intensive burpee variation that will work your obliques and quads while also really toasting your chest, shoulders and triceps. The Spiderman Burpee has extra push ups and a tuck knee jump at the top, making it a more challenging burpee variation!
To do the Spiderman Burpee, start standing with your feet about hip-width apart and then jump back into a high plank position. Perform a push up and then, at the top of the push up, bring your right knee in toward the outside of your right elbow. Perform another push up and then bring your left knee up toward the outside of your left elbow. Do one last push up and jump your feet in toward your hands and stand up.
Come to standing and perform a tuck knee jump, jumping up as high as you can as you tuck your knees up and in toward your chest. Then repeat the move.
Make sure that as you tuck your knees in toward the outside of your elbows, you really feel your obliques pulling your knee up and in.
To advance the move, do the knee tuck at the bottom of the push up. To make the move easier, do the push ups from your knees or eliminate a push up or two. You can even remove the push ups and simply do the knee tucks before jumping back up.
4. Jack Burpee
Work your glutes and legs more while adding in the extra cardio element of a plyo jumping jack with this Jack Burpee variation.
To do the Jack Burpee, start standing with your feet together. Then bend over and place your hands on the ground and jump your feet back into a high plank position with your feet together.
Holding the plank, jump your feet out wide then back together. Do not let your butt go up in the air as you jump your feet out or your hips sag. Keep your core tight.
Jump your feet back into your hands and, as you move to straighten back up, jump up off the ground and perform a plyo jumping jack. To do the plyo jack, you will jump up off the ground, spreading your legs wide as you swing your arms up to the side and overhead. You are performing a jumping jack in the air.
To regress the movement, perform a basic jumping jack at the top and step instead of jumping when doing the jack in the plank position.
5. Side Arm Balance Burpee
This is a great burpee variation to really target your core and shoulders.
To do the Side Arm Balance Burpee, start standing and then bend over and place your hands on the ground as you jump your feet back into a high plank position.
Perform a push up. Once at the top of the push up, rotate into a side plank, lifting one hand up toward the ceiling as you rock open onto the sides of your feet. Open completely and pause for a second before placing the hand back down on the ground.
Perform another push up, dropping your chest to the ground. Again, at the top of the push up, rotate into a side plank on the other side. Perform another push up then jump your feet in toward your hands and come back up to standing, jumping at the top.
Beginners can always step back instead of jumping. They can also do the push ups from their knees or even remove a push up or two if needed. They can then do the side planks from their knees or lift up onto their feet for them.
Get your cardio on with these 5 Burpee variations. And for even more Burpee exercises, click here.
Cori is the owner of Redefining Strength, a functional training facility in Orange County, California focused on helping each client find their strong. She started training and writing a fitness blog in 2011 because she wanted to empower people through diet and exercise so that they can lead healthier, happier lives.