Burn More Calories in Less Time with Burpees

Tony Bonvechio
by Tony Bonvechio
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Burn More Calories in Less Time with Burpees

Burpees are sweet, sweet torture. What other exercise provides a head-to-toe fat-burning workout with zero equipment? The answer is none, at least not to the degree that burpees do.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that burpees are often performed with bad form and poor planning. Take an effective exercise, do it incorrectly with no rhyme or reason and suddenly you’ve got a not-so-great situation.

But never fear. This article will show you how to do burpees with pristine technique — and how to regress them if necessary — and give you a workout plan that takes just five minutes.



Not everyone is ready to do burpees on Day One. Because burpees are supposed to be done quickly with maximal effort, it’s challenging to maintain perfect form. Sloppy technique could irritate your shoulders, wrists or lower back, so try these regressions first:


The simplest way to make a burpee easier is to elevate your hands on a box or bench. This decreases the upper-body demands and takes stress off the lower back.


If burpees are a no-go for whatever reason, medicine ball thrusters provide a solid full-body alternative that mimics the burpee without any impact on the shoulders or lower back.


This five-minute workout combines three burpee progressions for an all-out fat-burning attack. You start each round with the easiest exercise and progress to the hardest exercise, reducing the number of reps each round. This allows you to keep working hard even as you fatigue.

Med Ball Thruster x 12 reps
Hands-Elevated Burpee x 10 reps
Burpee x 8 reps
Rest 30 seconds

Med Ball Thruster x 10 reps
Hands-Elevated Burpee x 8 reps
Burpee x 6 reps
Rest 30 seconds

Med Ball Thruster x 8 reps
Hands-Elevated Burpee x 6 reps
Burpee x 4 reps
Rest 30 seconds

Med Ball Thruster x 6 reps
Hands-Elevated Burpee x 4 reps
Burpee x 2 reps

About the Author

Tony Bonvechio
Tony Bonvechio

Tony Bonvechio (@bonvecstrength) is the co-owner of The Strength House in Worcester, MA, where he trains primarily powerlifters and team sport athletes. A former college baseball player turned powerlifter, he earned his Master’s degree in Exercise Science from Adelphi University. You can read more from Tony at bonvecstrength.com.


30 responses to “Burn More Calories in Less Time with Burpees”

  1. Avatar EBABY says:

    This version of burpees look so much easier than the standard burpee. I will be sure to incorporate them into my workout.

  2. Avatar Rich Cook says:

    The other advantage that’s not mentioned here that I see is you could do these anywhere, in a hotel or while traveling, which is of interest to me personally.

  3. Avatar lonnie johnston says:

    Love reading these blogs. A lot of good information for those of us that are exercise challenged

  4. Avatar Eddie Trương-Cao says:

    Do you have an alternative to the med ball thruster if you don’t have one available?

  5. Avatar Cathy Myers Smith says:

    Great video. I have struggled with trying to do burpees and this was very helpful. I will go back to doing them on a box or weight bench. Now I understand why my shoulders are so sore when attempting a round of burpees. Thank you!

  6. Avatar Kimberly says:

    Thank you for the tips and vidoes on how to perform alternatives. As someone who is still recovering from ACL reconstruction, burpees are a huge challenge, and I struggle to perform them correctly. I feel I could tackle these alternatives and still get a good workout.

  7. Avatar Walter B Salinas says:

    I’m returning from a knee injury that kept me from working out 3 months, just started running again last week. I’ll do this plan of yours, looks terrific. Thank you!

  8. Avatar profswitzer says:

    How about a smidgen of proof to back up the TITLE of the post? That’s why I clicked on it, for Pete’s sake…

    • Avatar iolani64 says:

      When you go at a more intense pace you burn more energy. Simple. You do a number of sprints you’ll burn more calories than a slow jog. Anyone who has participated in sports knows this.

      • Avatar profswitzer says:

        Duh, but perhaps you missed this quote: “What other exercise provides a head-to-toe fat-burning workout with zero equipment? The answer is none, at least not to the degree that burpees do.” You make a statement like that, you should back it up with data.

  9. Avatar ArmyVet says:

    Burpees are stupid.

    The Army taught me 8 count pushups

    Begin with a relaxed standing position, feet shoulder width, knees ever so slightly bent, back straight, good posture.

    1 place hands directly in front of feet
    2 kick feet out and back

    You are now in the pushup position

    3 bend elbows and lowee your body until triceps are parellel to the floor

    4 extend elbows and push your body up

    5 repeat step 3

    6 repeat step 4

    7 kick your feet up and foward towards your hands

    8 explode upwards beyond standing and jump

    That’s one repetition.

    In boot camp, we’d get in trouble and do at least 50 of those at a retardedly fast pace with no rest.

    I wouldn’t advise it but, that’s one way to gage where you’re at.

    • Avatar DaBoss says:

      Your offensive language is not welcome here.

      • Avatar iolani64 says:

        Army Vet , someone took the 8 count pushup, called it a Burpee and made lots of money with a new copyrighted training method.

        • Avatar DaBoss says:

          It’s 2017. We don’t refer to people as ‘retarded’.

          • Avatar aagh307 says:

            He didn’t refer to anyone as retarded.

          • Avatar Commenter says:

            retardedly fast? retarded means slowly, and fast, so slowly fast?

          • Avatar iolani64 says:

            Retarded means mentally challenged but among the youth “retardedly fast” would mean crazy fast or super fast.

          • Avatar Commenter says:

            he referred to the movement as retarded, not any people or person, so probably just improper usage. I suppose you’re just opposed to any usage of the word, regardless of the meaning.

  10. Avatar Moran Zukerman says:

    Isn’t that Megan Martin in the photo ?!

  11. Avatar GeorgeScott says:

    “This article will show you how to do burpees with pristine technique.” This article does nothing of the sort. It doesn’t even describe what a burpee is, never mind show “pristine technique.” It just shows two regressions.

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  12. Avatar Dmember says:

    Burpee? Article doesn’t even define it….

    • Avatar iolani64 says:

      The Burpee and the 8 count push up are basically the same. When you do your workout you should go ’til you throw up and then some more. None of this “go at a comfortable pace, etc”

      • Avatar Dmember says:

        Thanks for the explanation. I just hate it when a writer doesn’t define the main point he/she is talking about…..but just assumes that everyone knows what he/she is talking about.

  13. Avatar Capt Crunch Knockers says:

    This is like receiving instructions for drawing an owl.
    First: draw the eyes like this (visual example)
    Next: Draw the rest of the owl (no visual example)

  14. Avatar Bradybear says:

    Sorry, George Scott. Your complaint is just wrong. Burpees are not difficult to find, understand, Google, or watch on YouTube. Try some of all of that. Same goes for thrusters, med-ball thrusters, etc. Don’t complain about your own lack of familiarity with these terms. Use a few calories with your thumbs, and you’ll be ready to go. So do it.

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