Why Doing Push-Ups as Part of a Burpee is Stupid

A few months back, I had a young visitor to one of my classes, and one of the exercises we were doing was the burpee. Each time his hands hit the floor, he did a half-push-up with a low hip dip, which slowed him down enough that he was getting about two-thirds the reps of athletes in their fifties. I showed him how we like to do burpees, and he said “Oh, I forgot you guys do the easy kind.”

The burpee is a conditioning exercise. It’s not a measure of your manhood. It’s not a competition. And it’s not a good time to do push-ups. There are any number of variations to the burpee, from adding a push-up, to jumping up to a pull-up bar to add a pull-up, to holding a medicine ball, to wearing a weight vest. We are well aware of the existence of these variations, and we don’t do them. It’s not by ignorance that we came to this choice.

I won’t argue that adding a push-up to the burpee doesn’t make it harder. It does. And so would holding your breath, or putting vaseline all over your hands, or wearing swimming flippers. I will argue, though, that it’s likely that your push-ups already suck and you don’t need to do a bunch of jumping around to make them worse. On the same token, the push-up always is the weak link in the burpee, which takes a great conditioning exercise, and makes it more a test of your upper body pressing endurance.

If you think the burpee is too easy as it is, simply jump higher, move faster, and stop every fifty reps and do fifty push-ups while you rest your bad ass.

Adding more to a good thing is not always a gooder thing…unless you eat at Taco Town.

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