Monday, August 25, 2014

Form is Everything - Burpees

Adding to my post from Friday, I wanted to talk about another fitness move I often see people do wrong.


Yep, I said it.  The swear word of the fitness world.

Seriously, every time I introduce a set of burpees into class, I swear the reaction from every student is something like:

Yeah, yeah.  I get it.  Burpees are hard.  No point in sugar coating it.  Moving on...

Anyway, I was inspired to talk about burpees thanks to this video, which was sent to me by a friend as a response to my write up on Cross Fit last week (here's a backup link for the video if that first link doesn't work).  If you've spent any time in a gym that shares a cardio space with weight lifters, you'll get a kick out of that video - take a second to watch it, and pay careful attention to the portion where one guy starts doing "burpees" on the floor.

Side note: this is about the time where I wish I was cool and knew how to make my own GIFs, because that guy's burpee form is awesomely bad.  Since I do not know how to make GIFs, I'll just have to insert some other pre-made, awesomely bad burpee GIFs I found online instead.

So before we get too far, let's revisit my plank post from last week.  Remember the good form connect the dots game?

Burpees essentially are a plank with some dynamic movement added, so think back to that good form first... and then add the jumps.  In case you're not sure what that should look like, here's a few basic demonstrations, with or without push-up at the bottom (I prefer without to keep the cardio moving more quickly).


If you compare these form drawings to the "awesomely bad" GIFs above, what do you see?

Well, there's the obvious issue of bad plank form - butt too high/low.

BUT!  There's another issue too... notice how quickly the two guys drop down to the floor, and how they both let their knees touch?  WTF is that?!  (OK, to be fair, the guy in grey isn't too terrible, but it does look like he's dropping to his knees some, and he's definitely got some belly dropping seal action going ... maybe that's why he wore gray?!  LOL!).

Also, what's with all three of them letting gravity and momentum take over?  None of them are truly popping out into plank and engaging their muscles to hold it.  Honestly!  There's no point in doing a burpee if you're just going to let gravity take over and pull you down to the floor, then let momentum swing you back up again.

The idea of a burpee is to engage those core muscles while getting some cardio.  When gravity and momentum take over, they do that work.  Not your muscles.

Of course there are other possible ways to do burpees wrong, too.  But instead of talking more about incorrect moves, let's see some folks rock burpees!!!  Check this out:

WOW!  Dots connected!  Engaged muscles stopping gravity and momentum.  I LOVE IT!!

So... that's about it!!  With a few easy corrections, any burpee can go from bad to good.  Just remember: connect those dots, engage those muscles, and get that burpee done right!!

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