Please, please, please let there be an alternative.
When you imagine someone getting serious about their fitness (which may or may not be yourself), burpees are one of the classic moves you might picture. It fits in the category of “Ol’ Reliables,” along with jogging on the treadmill and doing sit-ups.
If you’re still trying to figure out exactly what your fitness regimen should look like, you might wonder if burpees—or any of those classics, really—are necessary. Is it bad if you just, well, totally hate them?
Good news for the burpee-averse: “No, it’s not bad if you don’t want to do [burpees],” says Holly Rilinger, Nike master trainer and author. “There are so many ways to work out.”
You have so much to choose from when it comes to exercise, and you can stay classic and lift weights and do burpees, or you can go outside the box and try aerial yoga or Pound or Zumba. Even if you like HIIT workouts, there are so many different moves that can work the same muscles as a burpee and get your heart pumping.
“It’s important to find something you’re gonna stick to,” says Rilinger. That means both setting a sustainable workout schedule and choosing workouts you actually enjoy, or at least tolerate. “If you absolutely loathe burpees, you’re probably not going to stick with it.”
That said, your hate for them might be premature. “The reason so many people hate them is because they’re hard,” says Rilinger. “If you would just do more of them, after a week, two weeks, three weeks, you’re gonna find out they become easier, and you might even like them.”
Rilinger makes a confession: She happens to love burpees—now anyway. Here’s why she’s a fan of the oft-shunned burpee: “You don’t need any equipment, and it is an intense, full-body workout, so you don’t have to do a ton of them for them to be effective.” That means they could be super useful if you only have 20 minutes to work out.
Burpees really do offer a lot: They work your shoulder muscles and core stability, they incorporate plyometrics (i.e. jumping), and they require both upper- and lower-body strength. And best of all, you can do them anywhere—no gym membership needed.
“If you can learn to love burpees just a little bit more, there’s a lot of inherent value in doing them,” says Rilinger.
Want to try other full-body moves instead?
Physical activity basics. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Accessed on December 11, 2018 at https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm.)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity guidelines for Americans. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018. Chapter 4. (Accessed on December 11, 2018 at https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf#page=55.)