Burpees, don’t hurt me

Over the weekend I tried a new exercise for the first time: the burpee.

Basically, you start standing, squat down, kick your legs out behind you, do a push-up, come up to squatting, and jump as high as you can.

First off, how did this exercise get such a weird name? From the Wikipedia article:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the exercise was named in the 1930s for American psychologist Royal H. Burpee, who developed the Burpee test. Consisting of a series of the exercises performed in rapid succession, the test was meant to measure agility and coordination. It is not clear whether the exercise itself was invented by Burpee, or if his test merely popularized it.

The burpee seems to be a big part of Cross Fit, while Cross Fitters often seem to eat paleo, which I’m trying to do (at least paleo-ish). Hence, that brings me to the burpee and other intense exercises that take up less time than my usual one-hour cardio or yoga schtick (neither of which I felt like doing yesterday).

This site offers a few good examples of burpee routines (I think it’s funny that the first “You Might Like” article is “How to Get Pecs” – no thanks!).  I tried a variation: 10 sets of 10 burpees in a row.  I did a couple of sets of very easy burpees (no jumping or push-up).  Piece of cake, I thought.  I started incorporating push-ups, which were hard as fuck, especially since I did yoga yesterday with a generous number of chaturangas.  I found them so difficult, I could barely do a full push-up, to tell the truth.

For the rest of my sets, I alternated between very easy burpees and push-up ones (still no jumping in consideration of neighbors), resting for about ten or 20 seconds in between, depending on how tired I was, because after a while, I started to get really tired.  And incredibly sweaty.  My heart was pumping like I had been sprinting.  By the end of maybe a 15 minute routine, I was dripping in sweat and totally out of breath.

Either I’m not as in good shape as I thought I was, or the burpee is indeed the kick-ass exercise that Cross Fitters and paleos claim it is.

The next day I was totally feeling it.  My inner thighs were killing me, and I was sore under and in front of my arms, as well as the muscles in my lower back.  And my thighs felt strong and beefy.

I know I’ll be doing them again in the very near future.  If I can, that is.

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