Who knew a one-minute-a-day workout could do so much?

February 1, 2012 by Joshua
in Blog, Fitness, Tips

[This post is part of a series on my daily exercise and starting and keeping challenging habits. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]

So what are these burpees I raved about yesterday?

First, from the New York Times article that got me started with them:

Ask a dozen physiologists which exercise is best, and you’ll get a dozen wildly divergent replies. “Trying to choose” a single best exercise is “like trying to condense the entire field” of exercise science, said Martin Gibala, the chairman of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

But when pressed, he suggested one of the foundations of old-fashioned calisthenics: the burpee, in which you drop to the ground, kick your feet out behind you, pull your feet back in and leap up as high as you can. “It builds muscles. It builds endurance.” He paused. “But it’s hard to imagine most people enjoying” an all-burpees program, “or sticking with it for long.”

And sticking with an exercise is key, even if you don’t spend a lot of time working out. The health benefits of activity follow a breathtakingly steep curve. “The majority of the mortality-related benefits” from exercising are due to the first 30 minutes of exercise, said Timothy Church, M.D., who holds the John S. McIlhenny endowed chair in health wisdom at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La.

I bolded the burpee parts. Yesterday I pointed out how to stick with doing burpees long-term (make them fun!). I’ll probably increase my number in time, but I’m in no hurry. As of now, I expect to do them until I can’t do them anymore. It’s one minute out of my day.

Also, my friend and I are doing burpees with push-ups.

Wikipedia describes the basic burpee:

The burpee is a full body exercise used in strength training and as aerobic exercise. It is performed in four steps, and was originally known as a “four-count Burpee”:

  1. Begin in a standing position.
  2. Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)
  3. Extend your feet back in one quick motion to assume the front plank position. (count 2)Return to the squat position in one quick motion. (count 3)
  4. Return to an upright standing position. (count 4)

I do a push-up between steps 2 and 3. Here’s a video.

I had never heard of burpees before. They’re named after a guy named Burpee, who went to my alma mater according to Wikipedia

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the exercise was named in the 1930s for American physiologist Royal H. Burpee, who developed the Burpee test. He earned a PhD in Applied Physiology from Columbia University in 1940 and created the “Burpee” exercise as part of his PhD thesis.

Here’s another burpee video. If it doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will.

A couple other blog posts on burpees — a guy planning to do 100 in a row and a site called “workout of the day”‘s page on how to do them, with links to more videos.

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6 responses on “Who knew a one-minute-a-day workout could do so much?

  1. Pingback: More on burpees | Joshua Spodek

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  3. Pingback: Burpee overview » Joshua Spodek

  4. Pingback: Burpees — unbeatable for fitness and my best habit — the series » Joshua Spodek

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