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Skinny Without Willpower

Friday, September 24, 2010

THE ULTIMATE BODY WEIGHT EXERCISE - BURPEE

Sounds like an aftermath of a full meal, eh? Actually burpee is a form of body weight exercise that recruits the most amount of muscle in a single exercise. If you recall from my earlier posts, I am a proponent of full body exercises or compound movements as opposed to isolation movements. An example of a compound movement is the squat. The squat recruits all the muscles of your legs (front and back) and your posterior chain (butt and lower back). Percentage wise it recruits almost 70% of your body’s muscles. On the other hand an isolation movement like the crunches only recruits the abdominal muscles which are about 15% of your body’s total muscles.


So here is a trivia for you: Which exercise do you think will burn more belly fat, the squat or the crunch? If you answered the crunch then you are wrong! Contrary to popular belief there is no spot reduction in the body, meaning no matter which body part you are exercising the body loses fat from the total body fat pool and not just from the part being exercised. So when you are doing crunches the body is losing fat from your arms and legs and other parts. Belly fat is the last place your body will lose fat from (and usually the first to gain). So if you want to burn belly fat stop doing crunches and start squatting! Now, compared to the squat the burpee recruits almost 90% of your body’s muscles, so it will be even more efficient at burning overall body fat (and belly fat). The burpee is a very simple but effective exercise for cardio and strength conditioning. It’s used extensively in the armed forces for building strength and endurance.

The way the burpee is performed is by starting with a standing position. First you drop down to a squat position and then bend forward and fall on your palms and kick your legs back. Then you perform a push up and as soon as the push up is done you bring back your legs under your chest and rise and perform a jumping squat. This one exercise alone will target your legs, butt, abdomen, chest, shoulders, triceps (the back of your arms) and partially your back. Here is a video:

Start off by performing 20 of these in quick succession and it should take you less than 2-3 minutes to be done with the exercise. Slowly as your strength and endurance increases you will be able to add a few extra burpees every week. Burpees are the staple exercise in a lot of crossfit gyms across the country and the most I have ever seen anyone (myself included) do is 150. It takes about 15 minutes to do 150 of these and by the end you drop into a pool of your own sweat. It is by far more intense than any cardio exercise on the planet, in terms of building strength and endurance. And research has shown that short intense bursts of exercise are as effective as long duration low intensity cardio type exercises (http://www.naturalnews.com/024188_fitness_health_fat_loss.html). Considering the time savings of such an exercise plan, I'd say it’s a no brainer to do the high intensity type exercises. I mean why would you waste 2 hrs everyday on the treadmill when just 10-15 minutes three times a week will give you the same or more benefits?

So the next time you complain that you don’t have time and a gym membership to get in shape, stop making the excuses! All you need is 15 minutes, 3 times a week and a lot of determination and you’ll be in shape in no time. Want a 6 pack? No crunches required, just burpee!


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