Where Did Burpees Come From?
We all LOVE to HATE Burpees, right? Love them or hate them, here is a bit of info about how they came about.
OK, so with most gym exercises, the clue is usually in the name. Sit-ups…. shoulder press…. bicep curls…., the name of the exercise kind of tells you what you should be doing.
So where on earth did the name ‘burpee’ come from?
The exercise’s namesake was Royal Huddleston Burpee, a 1930s physiologist from New York.
However, he is not entirely to blame for the movement as we know it today. Royal H. Burpee invented a much
milder version of the exercise, intending it to be done just 4 times in a row as part of a fitness test.
At a time when exercise science was mostly concerned with measuring the fitness of already fit people,
Burpee wanted a simple way to assess the fitnessof anyone
(starting with the new members of the YMCA in the Bronx, where he worked).
The original exercise was simple:
1. Squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you
2. Jump feet back into plank position
3. Jump feet forward
4. Return to standing
The military adopted the burpee in 1942 as part of its fitness test for enlisting soldiers during World War II.
As part of the overall test, soldiers were required to perform burpees for 20 seconds straight.
By 1946, prospective soldiers had to undertake 1 minute of burpees –
41 burpees in that time was considered excellent, while fewer than 27 was considered poor! How many can you do in 1 minute?
The burpee has since evolved into a 6-movement bodyweight exercise:
1. Bend over or squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you, just outside of your feet
2. Jump both feet back into plank position
3. Drop to a push-up – your chest should touch the floor
4. Push or snake up to return to plank position
5. Jump feet back in toward hands
6. Explosively jump up into the air, reaching arms straight overhead
A single burpee demands that your entire body works to perform the six movements in a row,
including 3 separate jumps that take you from vertical to horizontal and back to vertical.
Burpee never intended his 4-count move to be used as a way to get in shape, but the exercise
has become renown thanks to the popularity of high-intensity strength and conditioning programs like CrossFit and boot camps.
Hard-core variations include burpee box jumps, dumbbell burpees, and the burpee pull-up (ouch)!
Chloe (I really love burpees by the way)
Reference: ‘Where Do Burpees Come From?’ Tamarkin, S. (2014)