Fitness Tips

Want To Actually Benefit From Doing Burpees? Nail the ‘Core Four’ First

Zoe Weiner

Photo: Getty/Westend61
Nothing incites a class-wide groan quite like a trainer announcing that it's time for burpees. The move requires you to work your core, upper body, and lower body at the same time, all while moving at a break-neck speed in order to get your heart rate up. There's a lot going on, which can be undoubtedly daunting (not to mention exhausting). So instead of thinking about them as a single, ass-kicking compound exercise, Charlee Atkins, trainer and founder of Le Sweat, instead wants you to treat them as a set of "core four" moves, a trick that will help you power through every time.

"The right way to do a burpee is actually combining four different exercises—a jump, a squat, a plank, and a push-up—all into one," she says. Below, she breaks down exactly how to do each step on its own, so that next time a trainer asks you to drop down and give them 20, you'll be able to reap every single one of the move's full-body benefits.

1. Jump

The burpee starts and finishes with a strong jump. According to Atkins, this means you want to keep your head in line with your heels and bend your knees out wide as you come down to brace for getting some air. Then, jump straight up to the sky, and come down softly, landing in your squat. You'll do another jump after the push-up portion of the move, too. This time you'll simply jump your feet to the outside of your hands so that your knees are tracking over your toes, then jump straight up to the sky the same way you did the first time around. If you want to modify the move, simply skip out on the jump altogether.

2. Squat

Next comes the squat, which you're likely intimately familiar with from other portions of your workouts. To do the move properly, think about keeping your head in line with your tailbone, pushing your knees out wide, and dropping your butt straight down to the ground while keeping your chest proud (looking straight out in front of you, instead of at the floor, can help).

3. Plank

Now for the core work. Place your hands on the ground in front of you with your knees wider than your elbows, which will help you kick your feet behind you. Keep your back flat, and jump your feet back. Once you're in your plank, be sure to keep your shoulders in line with your wrists, and engage your core and glutes to create a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. For a modified version of the move, you can step your feet back instead of jumping, or take the plank from your knees.

4. Push-up

Finally, the push-up. Really, a push-up is just a moving plank, so try to maintain that same engagement through your core and glutes. Bend your elbows to lower your body down, then straighten them to push back up. To modify,

Now, you're ready to put it all together for a full-blown burpee that won't make you grown.

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