Memorize the ‘four pack’ to make your burpees over-the-top effective



Finally nail the perfect burpee form—watch how it’s done, here

To me, I dread doing burpees as much as I dread getting a Pap smear. They both suck, but I gotta do them once in a while for the sake of my health. (Too dramatic? Just right? LMK.)

Anyways, we can pretty much all agree that burpees are a workout move that nobody really likes doing. Even some trainers don’t like ’em. But, still, there’s a high chance you’re going to be instructed to knock some out if you’re in some sort of HIIT class. As you try getting through them, though, there are a lotta ways you can do them incorrectly, which makes them even harder, not to mention makes you more prone to injury.

“Burpees are really hard and nobody really likes to do them, and there’s a lot that can go wrong in a burpee,” says Charlee Atkins, fitness trainer, in Well+Good’s latest episode of The Right Way. When you’re doing them incorrectly, you’re falling flat onto the floor and scrambling to get back up.

When you think about it, a burpee is actually a perfect combination of four different exercises: a jump, a squat, a plank, and a push-up, or as I like to call ’em, the “four pack”. Here are Atkins’ tips for nailing it:

Strong but soft jump: With your head aligned with your heels, come down with your knees coming wide. Then hop back up. When you jump and land into your squat, you want to make sure it’s a soft landing. As you lower into the squat, keep your head in line with your tailbone, knees out wide, and keep your chest up.

Move into a plank: From there, your hands have to come down, and your knees have to be wider than your elbows so that you can kick yourself back. Don’t lose your back here and hunch—keep a flat back as you jump into your plank.

Do a proper plank: In this segment, your shoulders should be right over your wrists, body nice and flat with a straight line from your head to your heels. From there, it’s just lowering your plank straight down into a push-up, and coming right back up.

Jump back: You need to jump your knees on the outside of your elbows so that the knees track over your toes. That way, you can come right back up into the jump. And do it all over again.

It’s definitely hard, though—so there are a number of modifications you can do. One way to make things easier is to just completely eliminate the push-up. “So jump, land with your knees wide, kick into a plank, and go right back,” says Atkins. The second modification she recommends is to take out the jumping. “This is more low-impact,” she says. “Take out the jump and walk back, squat down, walk one foot after another out into a plank, and come back up.” And, of course, breathe throughout the thing. And voila.

To follow along with other The Right Way episodes, here’s the right way to do crunches, and the right way to do a push-up

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