Squats and push-ups belong to the most famous basic exercises. But none of those is not to be considered as universal: arms and shoulders are almost not involved in squats, and in push-ups legs get only a static load. So it would be logically to combine these two exercises. I guess, most of you have already figured out, what exercise (a mini-complex exactly) I am talking about. It is burpee, of course. Since the exercise is performed without equipment, it is mostly used for increasing stamina (this is exactly why it’s so popular in different countries armies).
You can include burpee to your home workout program as a separate exercise, or use it to warm the muscles up before the main workout. You can also make a whole workout out of burpee – short, but effective. But you should remember, that involving a big massive of muscles in work does higher requirements to circulatory and respiratory systems. That’s why you should increase the rhythm gradually, starting from the lightened (classic) variation, described below.
Notice, that this exercise was not for workouts at first. It was used in the American army to evaluate the recruit’s physical fitness level. To do this, the starting heart rate was measured, and then the same thing after four burpee. The less was the difference between starting and final values – the better was the recruit. They also counted how many burpees recruit can do in 20 seconds: more than 12 was a good result. You can also use this method, but first, rules of performing the classic burpee.
What muscles work: quadriceps, calf muscles, big chest muscle, triceps, rectus and oblique abdominals, buttock muscles, deltoids.
Performing the exercise: stand straight, hands at your sides, legs a little more narrow than shoulder-width (photo 1). With your feet tight to the floor, squat until you can touch the floor with your palms. Place palms on shoulder-width and approximately on tilted head eyes level, move your weight partially to arms (photo 2). By pushing with your legs, stand in the emphasis lying on palms and legs finger tips (photo 3). Having fixed this position, using your arms, legs and core muscles go back to squatting position (photo 4). Stand up to move to the starting position (photo 5). Repeat for required times.
Notice: give enough room for this exercise, to avoid injuries. You can change leg position depending on your preferences and tendons flexibility – it was first considered to put legs wide, and arms inside, instead of outside the knee joints. Watch your back position – do not let it bend in emphasis lying. When going down, do not lean forward too much (knees should not go out of toes line too much), to avoid excessive load on knee joints. Though the exercise should be performed like a whole thing, every part needs to be fixed properly. Agree your breath with movement: squat – exhale, emphasis lying – inhale, transfer to squat – exhale, stand up – inhale. Do not chase the reps (the record is more than 5000 for today!), exercise’s author doesn’t recommend to do it for more than a minute (besides, a recruit must do more than 30 burpees by this time).
If even performing the classic burpee is still difficult for you – try to perform it slowly. Beginners can replace the jump switch to emphasis lying and back with alternate legs moves: squat, then straighten your leg backwards (photo 6) and do the same with the other one. Go back to the starting position with the same alternate leg move (but do not forget to switch legs: if the right one is first, next time it is last). Having mastered this variation, you can try to perform the easiest, for you, element of burpee by jumping (switching to emphasis lying, for example).
If you are fit enough and you want to increase the load – there are a few complicated variations of burpee. The most famous, thanks to crossfit, is burpee with push-up in the emphasis lying and jump up when straightening legs. If it is still easy to you – try to pull your knees to the chest when jumping, or not just jump, but jump on a pillar or jump along. You can also increase the number of performing separate elements (for example, perform two push-ups in emphasis lying or two squats/jumps).
But remember: we train for health, not for records. One of the main concepts of health is modesty. Believe: doing 20 burpees with perfect technique in one minute gives your body enough workout load, which grants the increase of its reserve possibilities without overtraining risk. And do not forget to control the heart rate during the workout, avoid the maximal and supermaximal levels. Have a good twenty!
Good books to read:
Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.