You see burpees are in today’s WOD and you groan. Maybe you even fake sick and make a run for the exit. But hold on a second. Burpees are good for you in a number of ways. They build strength from head to toe, and yes, burpees are cardio, too! Burpees offer many benefits, so learning to love them and improving your technique will go a long way. In this blog, you’ll learn how exactly to get better at burpees so those reps don’t seem quite as daunting.

Let’s do it!

How to Get Better at Burpees: 5 Tips for Speed, Efficiency, and Ease

Turn your weakness into a strength and face burpees head-on! These five tips will help.

Khan Porter doing burpees

Tip 1: Stay Low to the Ground

Many of us finish our burpees by jumping up and clapping at the top of the movement. This ensures you complete a full rep. However, there’s a little trick here that can help you save precious time and energy.

When you jump and clap, you don’t have to completely extend your body so that you’re in a straight line. And you certainly don’t have to jump as high as possible (unless that’s part of your programming). Instead, do a tinier hop and still clap, but keep your torso slightly bent forward. So, you’ll still be folding at the hips, and your torso will be slightly closer to parallel to the floor.

When you perform burpees this way, you’re reducing the amount of work you have to do, since you stay closer to the ground for the duration of the movement.

Tip 2: Don’t Do an Actual Push-Up

Part of the standard burpee is, technically, a push-up. However, where a lot of athletes go wrong is they place their hands on the floor and lower their chest to the ground slowly. Then, they slowly push back up before bringing their feet back in. This is more work than you need to do, and it’s going to fatigue you faster.

female athlete doing burpees next to plyo box

Instead, continue to use your hands and arms to support you, but let your chest sort of “plop” onto the ground. And when you push off to return to your standing position, allow your body to “worm” a little. Don’t rely solely on your shoulders to get you down and then back up again. Trying to perform a perfect push-up is going to wear your muscles out incredibly fast. They’re going to burn out.

By the way, if this part of the burpee aggravates your wrists, you might benefit from wearing wrist wraps.

Tip 3: Keep Your Body Relaxed

It might seem counterintuitive, but when you tense up and squeeze all your muscles, it makes it harder to perform your exercises. You’re not as mobile or limber, and your body can’t get into the necessary positions as quickly or easily. Plus, when you tense up, you tend to hold your breath. (Athletes commonly do this during double-unders, too.)

If you want to know how to get better at burpees, think of staying in control but relaxed. That’s key! Pace yourself and focus on your breath. If you feel yourself tensing up, stop for a minute, literally shake it out, and then continue. You want to be light and springy on your feet.

Tip 4: Keep Your Feet Close to Your Hands

We’ll explain what we mean by this.

You start a burpee by lowering your hands to the ground. When you do that, try to keep them close to your feet. You then jump your legs out, do a “push-up,” and jump your legs back in. When you jump them back in, aim to bring your feet as close to your hands again.

woman practicing how to get better at burpees

The reason for this is, once again, that you’re going to reduce the amount of work you need to do. When you bring your feet back in closer to your hands, all you have to do is stand right up. If they’re too far apart, you sort of have to crawl and climb your way back to your standing position.

These changes might seem minuscule. But when you add them all up, it could mean major relief for your energy stores. It’s tiny adjustments like this that ultimately make a big difference.

Tip 5: Just Keep Moving

Burpees are unique because technically, all you’re doing is falling down and standing up again. This is something you can do without perfect form, even if your lungs are on fire.

When you’re starting to enter the pain cave and think you possibly can’t continue, remember this: Just keep moving. Even if it’s ugly, even if you have horrible technique (or no technique at all), when it comes to burpees, you can get away with this! If you have to squat down, kneel, lay down and stretch out your legs, and slowly crawl back up again, do it. No one said it had to be pretty.

Just keep falling down and standing up again. You got this!

Now that you know how to get better at burpees, you should be able to tackle your reps a little bit more easily. To recap:

  1. Stay low to the ground for the duration of the movement.
  2. Avoid doing an actual burpee.
  3. Keep your body relaxed and remember to breathe.
  4. Keep your hands and feet close together.
  5. Just keep moving, even if it doesn’t look pretty.

If there comes a time when you simply can’t do another rep, pause, take a few deep breaths, and get right back on it.

Ready to practice? Try this WOD with thrusters and burpees. It’s brutal (in a good way).