I cannot begin to describe to you the feeling of loathing which exercise DVD infomercials inflict upon my being. I hate them all. Every single exercise program on TV sucks. Even if the workouts are a great and proven method of achieving fitness, they still suck. Specifically, they suck the hard-earned money from your wallets and bank accounts. What I cannot understand is the fact that most people cannot seem to grasp the concept that exercise is free. Let me reiterate: EXERCISE DOES NOT COST MONEY.
People do not need gyms, fancy equipment, or stylized exercise DVDs in order to achieve fitness. If anyone believes that they cannot get in decent shape with tools costing less than a few dollars – or better yet, no dollars – they have either been brainwashed by the fitness marketing industry (or as I like to call them, the fourth biggest evil behind the world banks, the pharmaceutical giants, and the entertainment industries). Or maybe these people just plain dumb. Or maybe, just maybe, they need these high-costs of fitness to use as an excuse as to why they’re just so out of shape and unhealthy, when in reality they’re just lazy.
INTRODUCING (just in case you have never heard of them before) THE BURPEE. The burpee is everything you desire in an exercise and much more. Best of all, it doesn’t require any equipment except the will to execute the exercise (will power is actually the hardest part, as anyone who has ventured the burpee road will tell you: “THEY SUCK” – not in the sense of them being worthless – they suck in the sense that they will SUCK – as in drain – the energy, air, and strength from your body; but don’t worry, you’ll be a better person for it, in a few days or so).
No matter what your goals may be, the burpee is for you. You want to build some strength and endurance in your major muscle groups, do burpees. You want to shed fat without having to jog endless, tedious miles, do burpees. You want to condition your body for a sport, do burpees. You want to look good for the opposite sex (or same sex, whatever floats your boat), do burpees. You want to ascend the heights of Mt. Olympus and smack the crap out of Zeus’ face, do burpees. Okay, maybe the last claim isn’t exactly possible, but at least you’ll look like it’s possible (with dedication and proper nutrition, of course).
The burpee, in its design, infuses two areas of fitness into a singular exercise, cardio and strength training. Together, these two factors might be the best method to improve your level of fitness in the shortest amount of time. Burpees consist of the muscular strength/endurance component of a push-up and the explosive strength/endurance component of a plyometric squat, or simply a jump squat. The exercise not only works the chest and legs, which are two of the largest muscle groups of the body, but it calls upon a huge number of stabilizing muscles (core muscles, butt muscles, lower back, shoulders, upper and mid back to some extent, triceps, etc.), making the burpee a total body exercise all by itself. When done in a rapid, high repetition fashion, it resembles – in its intensity – the extreme effort of all-out sprints. The effect is anaerobic, not aerobic (think: struggling for oxygen after a sprint versus being slightly winded while jogging and holding a conversation).
For the sake of brevity, I will explain a little of the science behind what makes the burpee so effective. This will border on bro-science (in style) but be one hundred percent factual. Simply put, carbohydrates turn to sugar in the body; half of these sugars are stored in the muscles and the other half roam freely in the blood stream, heading wherever they need to be whenever they need to be there. It is a well-known fact that high-intensity exercise is primary fueled by carbohydrates, while low-intensity exercise is fuel by fat oxidation. Resistance training and other high-intensity activities (such as lifting weights, sprinting or, for the sake of this article, push-ups and jump squats) are fueled by carbs (or sugars in your blood) and create tears in the muscle fibers which will eventually heal and become stronger (with proper rest and nutrition). This translates to burpees (which activates dozens of muscles and raises heart rates) being able to utilize a large amount of carbohydrates in a short amount of time because you’re not only strength training, you’re moving your body at such a pace that it becomes cardio intensive. Think about it: you’re combining the lung-expanding, heart-racing benefits of intense cardio with the muscle building movements of push-ups and jump squats. In fitness, it rarely gets better than this. As an added bonus, the burpee is a very effective method for burning calories, as it’s pretty much multiple exercises in one.
Contrary to burpees, jogging will burn mostly fat for fuel (although it does burn some carbs initially, it cannot compare to high-intensity exercise). If this sounds like a good thing, think twice. Burning fat for fuel will teach your body to store fat for survival. Your body will believe that fat will aid you during these long jogs – and truth be told, it will. The human body does not know what recreational exercise is. So if you’re *ONLY* jogging, there is a good chance that your body will lighten its load by shedding muscle (because muscle is not needed for the low-intensity nature of a jog) and store fat (because it is the primary fuel for your low-intensity activity). Sprinting on the other hand, while similar to jogging, is the exception. The power output for an all-out sprint triggers muscle activation. The entire body must work very hard to get you from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time possible. Sprinting is too demanding to be kept up for a long duration; thus, it generally affects the body and its energy pathways in the way that resistance training does. In short, it burns calories while setting your body up for a metabolic change (think: more muscle, less fat) all at once. By comparison, low-intensity activities such as jogging only burns calories. Albeit, jogging might burn more calories than burpees (at the beginning of a regime, when a person is only capable of doing a few) or sprinting or resistance training, but that’s only because jogging is generally so easy that a person can do it for long periods of time, therefore burning more and more calories. However, when resistance training and cardio are combined, the extent of the calories burned is comparable to a long distance jog, but the benefits are far greater. So when a person is capable of doing twenty or thirty minutes of burpees, jogging will quite literally be nothing more than a walk in the park.
To conclude: try the burpee for yourself. I can almost guarantee that you’ll either love them (because it’s a great exercise) or hate them (because you’re out of shape and nearly died trying to do them). Either way, you’ll be a better person (physically – they won’t do much for your personality) for it. Also, please remember that EXERCISE IS FREE and it’ll save you money in the long run (health problems and hospital bills). If you do not know how to do a burpee, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7_TBHno0Os for a demonstration of the classic burpee along with a few variations. If you can, also check out this burpee video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYfNA_lmkHM and please add to her page views frequently, because I LOVE HER SO MUCH IT HURTS and I want her videos to be universally renowned. I’m just kidding… Okay, I’m a little serious; but don’t judge me, she’s freaking amazing.
Also, if you have time, check out these sites for more information on the burpee (I’ve ordered them starting with my favorite):
- 1. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/rossboxing2.htm
- 2. http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/01/27/the-burpee-the-one-exercise-to-rule-them-all/
- 3. http://www.livestrong.com/article/272118-what-is-a-burpee-exercise/