Move of the month – burpees

Emma White - Certified Personal Trainer

Each month, I will be highlighting a great exercise move to include as part of your workout routine! Up next...


There are lots of ways to modify a burpee to make it more or less challenging. I'll start by outlining the classic burpee, then suggest ways to modify where necessary.


How to do it

  1. Start by standing tall, with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Squat down to the floor, until your hands are flat on the floor just in front of your feet, about shoulder width apart.
  3. Make sure your hands are flat on the floor and arms engaged, then propel your legs backwards to land on your tiptoes – so you end up in a high plank position.
  4. Engage your core to keep your back up and straight, and avoid poking your bum in the air.
  5. Hold for a second then jump your legs back into the start position so you're in a low squat.
  6. Start to rise up from your low squat into a jump – your feet should leave the floor for a second and raise your arms above your head.
  7. As your feet hit the floor, soften your knees so your knees bend just a little – this is to help lower the impact on the joints.
  8. That's one complete burpee. Repeat 10-15 times, rest then aim for another two sets of 10-15.

What it's good for

Burpees are a fantastic full body movement, which promotes strength and aerobic fitness gains. It's a high-intensity movement, so not for the faint-hearted – but can boast great fitness benefits for those who can brave it. As this is a full body movement, it requires all major muscles of the body to be activated, so can strengthen the arms, shoulders, chest, back, core, glutes and legs. It's also a great aerobic move so will get your heart and lungs working!


  • Reduce impact – if you're new to burpees and jumping up and down isn't your thing, there are ways to reduce the intensity of this move. When you squat down, instead of propelling your legs back, step one leg back at a time until you're in a high plank position. Step your legs back in, one at a time, then come to a standing position slowly – rather than jumping up.
  • Up the burn – if the standard burpee isn't tough enough for you, we can fix that! When you jump back into a high plank position, drop your body to the floor and push back up into a plank before jumping back to a squat. Or tougher still, from the high plank position, perform a push up and then jump back into the low squat position.
  • Up up the burn – if you're really a sucker for punishment, perform the push up option above, jump back into a low squat then from low, jump into the air into a knee tuck. Be careful to soften your knees on landing to reduce the impact and help avoid injury.


The burpee can be a fast paced move with lots of stages, so it's very important to focus on your form to avoid injury. If you start to get tired and your form is compromised, stop and take a break. Top areas to focus on are:

  1. As you propel your legs back from a low squat position, ensure your arms are well engaged as they will hold your weight. Also engage your core muscles to help protect your lower back. You want to land with a nice straight line from head to foot – so avoid arching or rounding your back.
  2. Stabilise yourself as you jump your feet back into your low squat position, and make sure you have your balance before you move onto the next stage.
  3. As you jump up, power up through your feet and try to create a little distance between you and the floor. Ensure your knees are soft upon landing and don't lock your knees, as this can lead to injury.

How NOT to do it

Avoid rushing this move, as your form can be compromised. Take your time, keep your core engaged, and try to keep nice straight lines when you jump into the high plank and jump up from the low squat. Don't arch your back during the plank or lock your knees after the final jump.

Don't do this 1
Don't do this 2

Emma White (Certified Personal Trainer) has always loved fitness. She's passionate about the many benefits of regular exercise, particularly the positive impact on mental health and overall quality of life, as well as how it provides the key to successful weight management.

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