A burpee conversation with a reader
I’ve written about the value of sharing your passions. When you do, people who share them too will find you and enrich your world.
A reader wrote me about burpees and we got into a rewarding conversation. I’ll share the start of it, mainly hoping to extend the community and motivate others.
It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it enriches ones life to find people to share passions with. It’s encouraging, rewarding, and motivational.
I have been captivated by burpees this past year. The first time I did them I did as many as possible and got to 30. It was exhausting! I then started to do them daily in one set as many as possible to failure. 30 the next day…then 32…34…38…40 then my record 44 consecutive burpees. Then I stopped. It was really hard to max out everyday.I started a new program now just twice a week. I do 2 chinups, 2 pullups and 10 burpees as a set. I do 3 sets total. Its a great workout but I am sore all week! I am only on week two. I am going to start doing 4 sets next week. It makes me wonder how you are not sore all the time! I wonder if you were at first and if it subsided or if you are actually sore all the time and just tough it out. Also do the burpees translate into cardiovascular endurance and strength in other areas in your experience?
Hi and great to hear from you.
I find that since burpees exercise most of the body, I don’t exhaust any one part to the point of soreness. Instead, I feel an all-over fatigue and exhaustion, like in these posts:
I also started with ten burpees a day, though by the end of that first month I was up to about two sets of fifteen, I forget the exact number. It took years to work up to two sets of twenty-six per day, plus the stretches, ab exercises, and back exercises I’ve included (seen here: https://joshuaspodek.com/video-burpee-sidchas). So I worked up to find and expand my limit. I didn’t start there, like it sounds like you did.
I’ve found that I’m fit and I attribute it mostly to burpees and my diet, with so much fresh fruits and vegetables. For example, this achievement — https://joshuaspodek.com/personal-rowing-record-5016-meters — and this one — https://joshuaspodek.com/old-man-still-running — aren’t competitive athlete level performances, but I consider respectable. Most of my training for them is from the twice daily burpees.
The biggest results are as much mental as physical, as you can tell by everything I write about sidchas. I’ve found keeping up the habit for years far more valuable than I would have predicted so I hope you keep at it, at a level that works for you.
Does that help?
Thanks for writing back I appreciate it. I wanted to present a little challenge to you and I think you may be up for it. I am curious about performace capacity. How many consecutive burpees can a man who does 50 burpees a day do? I would like you to use the same burpee that you have been, chest to floor, feet leave the ground. It is the same version I do. I expect your form will get a little worse towards the end but thats okay. If your chest touches the floor and you leave the ground on the jump phase it counts. Try to do as many as you can before you must stop. Now don’t kill yourself but push yourself. My record is 44. I think you’ll beat that but lets find out! I think you would be curious to know too. I have seen a couple videos of guys doing 100 consecutive. Actually I’ll enclose the link to the best version a Russian man doing them. It is thoroughly impressive!
I enjoy conversations about fitness, personal bests, and things like that. Other people talk about Game of Thrones things too much.
I’ll put max-to-failure on my list of burpee things to do. I do chest to ground and jump, also making sure I only lift with my arms, not touching my knees or thighs to “peel” off the ground. I don’t think people realize they’re doing that, but it makes the push-up a lot easier and reduces working your chest and triceps.
A while ago I did 100 burpees in 9:21 — https://joshuaspodek.com/100-burpees-9-minutes-21-seconds. I’m sure I could beat that today. Last night I timed my usual 26 and I did it in 1:45, which included a slow last two where I make sure my thumbs touch for the push-ups and earlier in the day I did thirty minutes on the rowing machine at about 940 calories / hour, which takes a lot out of you. My most in a day is 370 — https://joshuaspodek.com/370-burpees-one-day-100-next.
Since every other day I either row or do kettlebells, I’m always partly exhausted and recovering. I’ll try to find a time when I haven’t worked out that day or the day before, which would probably give me an extra couple burpees before exhaustion. That usually means on the first of a month after at month with 31 days, since its two odd-numbered days it a row. Not sure if that makes sense. The rowing and kettlebells are on even-numbered days, so I don’t do extra workouts on odd-numbered days.
By the way, how fast do you do them when going to exhaustion? If I do a full-on sprint, I won’t be able to do as many as if I pace myself. But I would probably consider one every ten seconds too slow to count.
I would rather watch game of thrones than talk about it. I don’t much like talking about TV, even the shows I do like. I love to talk about fitness though. And the burpee endurance trial is pretty impressive I must say! I didn’t know you were doing kettle bells too! Are you sure you’re not sore all the time! Maybe you recover quickly from exercise, maybe burpees daily have forced your body to adapt, although you mentioned you are always in recovery. I am not sure it that is optimal or not.
When I do burpees I do them fairly fast but not so fast that bad form occurs, I am not saying I do them perfectly anyway, I am not a natural athlete. I don’t have a lot of grace in my movement. I don’t believe in diving to the floor though, I squat deep enough so my hands touch the ground rather than hit the ground, I don’t think that sort of thing is good for your wrists. I do them fairly quickly though. I would say the pace is not slowed nor overtly fast. Just a natural pace. I would like to get a rowing machine eventually. Have you tried the tabata protocol with the rowing machine?
No rush to meet my challenge by the way. I am just curious about max effort performance. I have been trying to learn as much as I can about daily repetition verses high intensity and ample recovery. It is how I cam across your blog actually. I have thought about making a daily routine out of burpees and pull-ups, not too different from yours accept I would only do mine in the morning as I do not sleep well after anything to do with cardio rather it be intense like burpess or steady-state like skipping rope. But one could still make a nice routine.
Thanks for writing again Joshua, perhaps we will become pen-pals.
Less sore than exhausted. Between burpees, rowing, and kettlebells, my exercises are full body, not exhausting one part. When I played ultimate I was sore, basically from March to November. It’s funny, I feel exhausted, but can still do everything I want to. Like when I start rowing, I feel like I won’t be able to finish, but I keep going. I love it. I can’t believe people who don’t choose to keep a basic level of fitness.
You won’t regret a rowing machine. I got mine half price from Craig’s List and it works like new. Concept 2 builds them like tanks. I don’t have to go to a gym and can use it in any weather, which I couldn’t do with running. I vary between timed rows of 20 or 30 minutes and HIIT of either sets of 8 hard rows (90% effort) followed by 8 resting (10% effort) or ladders of one at 90% / one at 10% up to ten at 90% / ten at 10% back down to one at 90% / one at 10%. A friend who rowed varsity in college suggested these workouts.
Still, I periodically change things and put new things in. I recently got an ab wheel and love it. I started doing a bridge stretch after my crunches.
I’ve found daily work incredibly valuable, as you probably read in my sidcha posts, far beyond just physical fitness. In fact, I registered sidcha.com and will build out the site soon. As valuable as burpees are, or whatever workout, there’s nothing like doing them when your mind is tricking you with excuses, like after a long day or a big meal. Then you develop discipline, integrity, and things like that.
I was thinking about making a blog post about our dialog. Would you mind? I could make you as anonymous as you like? No obligation. I think people would benefit from reading it.
I don’t mind if you post our correspondence.
I am with you, I really love to exercise but I sure hate to eat right!
So I have settle on a routine of 1 intense training session per week and I am my own Guinea pig. I was introduced by this less-is-more in terms of frequency and volume of training, provided sufficient intensity is met, by a book I read titled “Body by Science” by John Little and Doug McGuff. It basically suggest that in terms of strength development there is sufficient research to suggest that strength training any more than once a week is needed to build strength and that doing more than this, while not always a hindrance, accomplishes nothing or very little if anything. The late body builder Mike Metzger was a proponent of similar protocol and advocated even less frequency, arguing that the more strength you develop the more intense the training is and even longer recuperation times were needed. He suggested as much as 2 weeks between sessions at times and once every 5 ays at the most. Also the book posits and presents evidence that the heart and vascular system have very little to do with improved endurance as all the adaptations take place at the cellular level within the muscle itself and those are what need to be improved and are sufficiently improved through strength training as well as high intensity cardio training much like the nature of burpees or all-out sprinting. He has a youtube video called “There is no such thing as Cardio” If you want to check it out.
I have been doing my once a week workout that has a short and intense strength training element followed by a high intensity cardio element. I do not lift weights but I do some moves from gymnastics for strength training. I used parallettes and a pull-up bar.
The moves are:
Planche(I am in a progressive state here, I can do an open-tuck planche not yet the full-planche}
L-Sit( I hope to obtain a “manna” someday”)
One-Arm Chin-Up(I use a progressive variation where I grab my wrist with the off-hand. Still much harder than conventional chin-ups)
Pistol-Squat(A.K.A One-Legged squat, I use a parallette to keep my balance on the lower part of the motion, hope to do away with the need for that eventually)
I do three attempts at each movement and 3 attempts each arm for the one-arm chins. The squats I do 5 each leg.
Following that I do circuits of regular chin-ups, pull-ups and burpees. I do 2 chins, 2 pulls, then 10 burpees in the same fashion you do, chest to floor, hop in the air. That is a set(super-set technically). I aim for 4-5 sets total.
I am on week three of this, but, I was doing only two rounds of the strength training and four super-sets and week three I did 3 rounds per strength movement and increased the squats from 3 per leg to 5. This extra round of strength training made my count on the burpee super-sets lower. I did 4 rounds week one and two, but only three last week. The extra strength training took it out of me. I am going to try to push myself to the same standard for the strength element but push the super-sets to five rounds next week. After that I will regroup and see if I can handle 5 super-sets with that level of strength, maybe I will have to settle for 4, or even 3 if I keep the strength work at the same volume. I shall see. My goal is to work through all 5 super-sets without rest. This workout is pretty brutal but with the week off it is really easy to push yourself. You want to! You feel like you are ready to work-out. Like “Its time to train”! It is kind of refreshing mentally. Already I have noticed increased in muscle and a slight decrease in fat.
About 3 years ago I quit smoking and gained about 15 pounds. I hope to loose that. One thing I noticed is I have not lost weight but I seem to be loosing belly fat. My chest looks a more muscular and my arms too, I notice my arms look more vascular which is a sign the earth is moving.
I am starting up Jiu-Jitsu again on Mondays for two hours in the evening, I have been out for a month. Grappling is a high intensity workout in and of itself so I think between the two workouts I should have more than enough. I may skip-rope on the other days, or at least some of them. I recover pretty quickly from skipping rope. I will for sure skip rope at least one day. That way I am getting one of each form of training per week. A strength session, a high-intensity session and a steady-state cardio session.
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