Although burpees have long been a go-to exercise here at 12WBT, the truth is they can be seriously tough. Not only are burpees 4 exercises rolled into 1, but the repetitive and extreme movement of getting down on the floor and then jumping high in the air as fast as you can, can be harmful to anyone with low or high blood pressure, or anyone with a heart condition. So, avoid the headspins and take it a little easier (without losing the calorie-burning capabilities) and try these instead!
Start in the push-up position with your arms straight and core switched on.
Jump your feet out wide and then immediately back in, just like a ‘Jumping Jack’ except you’re horizontal, instead of standing up.
The high plank in this exercise strengthens your shoulders, triceps and core, while the jumping feet works your butt and cardio system. So, just like the burpee, this full-body exercise targets different muscles and different energy systems. And this equals LOTS of calories burned in a short period of time.
Plank Jacks with the option of push-ups
If you feel like this exercise can be made more challenging, it’s time to add in a push-up in between each plank jack. A push-up requires greater upper body strength as well as a little more cardio endurance.
After about 5 seconds, you’ll feel that this exercise is every bit as demanding as a burpee. Because it is! However, by staying horizontal you are avoiding the potential headspins.
Slow it down and try the no-impact version of the burpee. This involves stepping instead of jumping throughout the exercise and getting up and down much slower. This way you get the full range of a burpee without the impact or the speed. To make this exercise even more beginner-friendly, you can place your hands on a sturdy bench so you’re not exercising all the way to the floor.
Mountain climbers are another great no-impact alternative and are similar in movement (and fitness level) to the plank jack. They also burn nearly the same amount of calories as the full burpee!
Just like every exercise you do, you should be continually self-assessing your body and only doing the exercises or versions of exercises that suit your current biomechanical abilities, cardio conditioning, strength and skill levels.
For example, some people don’t have the hip structure to do a full squat, while others don’t (yet) have the high level of conditioning that it takes to do a full burpee. And that’s ok! We all have different physical capabilities. Progressive programs, such as 12WBT, are all about improving at a level and a pace that’s comfortable for you. And it’s inevitable that you will improve (it just may not happen as fast as a montage in a movie). But as the weeks clock up you will firstly feel the difference as your body transforms from a sugar-burner into a fat-burner, then a few more weeks after that you (and everyone else) will see the difference.
So don’t let an exercise like burpees intimidate you. Simply find an alternative exercise or activity that suits your body and doesn’t scare you out of exercising altogether. The burpee may become a ‘Goal’ exercise for you at a much later date. For now, get busy Plank Jacking, Mountain Climbing or any other exercise you actually enjoy, that doesn’t cause strain or feel impossible, and that makes you feel like a powerhouse for completing it!
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