Monday, November 19, 2018

Burpees: The Single Best Exercise Ever

Swimming is a sport that we seem to do often when we’re young and then slack off on as we age. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in fact, 36 percent of children aged 7–17 years old swim at least six times a year, compared to only 15 percent of adults. (1)

But if you haven’t hit the pool in some time or find yourself swimming only during warmer months, you’re missing out. That’s because swim workouts are one of the best activities you can do for your body year-round. Read on to discover why it might be time to grab your goggles and swim cap.
8 Benefits of Swimming

There’s no such thing as a miracle workout but, if there was, swimming would be pretty high on the list. With both physical and mental benefits, swimming workouts can really improve your overall health in a short amount of time. And, luckily, you don’t need to be the next Michael Phelps to reap the effects either.

1. Your brain will work better. You’ll get more than just a swimmer’s body when you take up swim workouts; your brain will get a boost, too. Swimming has been found to increase blood flow to the brain, which leads to more oxygen. That means you’ll experience more alertness, better memory and cognitive function. (1)

One interesting study found that just being in a pool of warm water that’s at least chest-level can have a positive effect on blood flow to the brain; participants increased blood flow to their cerebral arteries by 14 percent. (2)

2. Swimming helps kids achieve. It turn out that getting little ones in the water early is a good idea as well. A study of 7,000 children under 5 years old found that children who participated in swimming at a young age achieved skills and reached physical milestones earlier than their non-swimming peers, regardless of socio-economic background. (3) Their literacy and numeric skills were better, too. Better get the floaties!

3. You’ll get a mood boost. If you only swim during the summer months, it’s time to break out your swimsuit during the winter. That’s because, despite the lower temperatures, one study found that swimmers who hit the pool regularly between October and January reported less fatigue, tension and memory loss. (4)

Not only that, but the swimmers who suffered from ailments like rheumatism, fibromyalgia or asthma found that wintertime swimming eased their aches and pains.

4. You’ll lower blood pressure. If you suffer from hypertension, swim workouts are an excellent way to lower resting blood pressure. One study found that, over a 10-week period, men and women who had previously been sedentary but had hypertension decreased their resting heart rate significantly. This is particularly useful for people who struggle with other exercises because of their weight, asthma or injuries. (5)

Another study found that after a year of swimming regularly, patients with hypertension lowered their blood pressure while also improving their insulin sensitivity, which is key to avoiding type 2 diabetes. (6)

5. You’ll live longer. If you’ve been comparing life extenders, swimming is another one to add to your list. One study of more than 40,000 men between 20–90 years old found that those participants who swam or did other pool exercises like water jogging or aqua aerobics lowered their risk of dying from any cause by nearly 50 percent than those men who were sedentary, walked regularly or were runners. (7)

6. You can reduce your risk of heart disease. In a study of patients with osteoarthritis, researchers found that swimming just as effective — and sometimes more so — as cycling in increasing cardiovascular function and reducing inflammation. (8)

7. You’ll reduce lower-back pain. Skip the painkillers and hit the pool instead. One study found that patients with lower back pain who did aquatic exercises at least twice a week showed significant improvement in pain. And after 6 months, 90 percent of the study’s participants felt they’d improved after their time in the program, no matter what their swimming ability was at the start of the study. (9)

8. It serves as an ideal alternative to high-impact exercise. Swimming uses muscles you don’t normally engage, is easy on the joints, making it a great alternative to high-impact activities and allows you to zone out without the fear of tripping on something like running.
Let’s take a moment to reminisce. Think back to the time when you were eight years old and playing outside with your friends. Maybe you’re thinking of the time you and your friends spent hours jumping rope or playing leap frog. Maybe you’re recalling the time when you spent a whole day at the pool performing a perfect 10 dive into the community pool.

As kids, no one needed to tell us that jumping was a part of play, or that it was chockfull of exercise benefits. We did it because it was natural. And this natural ability of our bodies to jump, something that we learned as early as age 2, a very important training tool for increasing explosiveness, power, agility and speed during athletic performance.

In the 1980s, when the term plyometrics was brought the to the U.S., we saw the emergence of the act of jumping as a training tool to improve athletic performance in a variety of ways. Plyometric exercises and their application became more mainstream and expanded beyond specialized sports like long-distance running and long jump and into popular group fitness classes like bootcamps and CrossFit™.
What Are Plyometrics?

Plyometrics is a term coined by former U.S. Olympic long-distance runner, Fred Wilt and Michael Yessis, a biochemist, sports trainer and academic in 1975. While Wilt was warming up, he noticed that the Russians included different jumps into their warm-ups prior to competing. This was in stark contrast to the Americans, who warmed up with static stretching. Wilt theorized that one of the reasons the Soviets were so competitive was because of the plyometric exercises they had practiced and perfected.

Over the next few years, Wilt and Yessis would continue their work in the sport of track and field and more specifically, running. And with the help of Yuri Verkhoshansky, a fellow biochemist and sports trainer out of the Soviet Union, the pair eventually brought this information to the masses in 1984 with their first book, “Soviet Theory, Technique and Training for Running and Hurdling.” But why did Wilt and Yessis seek out Verkhoshanksy? Because of his work with the depth jump, also know as the shock method.

The depth jump is a tested plyometric exercise, which starts an athlete on a box of a chosen height. They jump off the box, quickly rebound and jump as high as possible. In Verkhoshanksy’s 1968 work in which he describes the shock method, he concluded that, “the height of the vertical jump was highest when the athlete performed it immediately after landing from a drop height of 50 cm (20 inches).” It would take 16 years before Verkhoshanksy’s connected the dots between the depth jump and athletic performance.

In 1986, he conducted a 12-week study in which he tested whether the shock method would increase explosive strength in volleyball players. He concluded that not only was explosive strength significantly improved over the course of the study but that maximal strength in isometric movements was improved as well. (01) And so began the use of plyometrics in athletic training.

But, why are plyometric exercises so important? Why should we care about creating plyometrics workouts? It lies in the mechanics of the vertical jump.

The mechanics of the vertical jump, as stated by a 1998 study lead by Brian R. Umberger of the Department of Orthopedics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, lies in the structure of the two joint muscle. The idea is that muscles that span two joints — i.e. the quads, hamstrings and calves — transfer their energy during a vertical jump to create a highly coordinated sequence of muscle actions to produce this specific movement. (02)

Because of this, the vertical jump can be a useful indicator of lower limb power, muscle recruitment and coordination for many athletes. Not only is it a great test for athletes, but it is also a great training tool to develop that explosive power and athletic coordination. And it’s for these reasons that plyometric training is so important not only for elite-level athletes but for the general population as well.
Who Should Do “Plyos”?

Because plyometric training requires a tremendous amount of muscle coordination, balance and stability, plyometric workouts should be geared towards those individuals with a solid fitness base or seasoned athletes looking build more explosiveness and power.

What if you don’t fall into either of those categories? Then, start by building your overall posture, lower body stability and balance through methods like yoga or barre.

Barre Method was developed by a German dancer while rehabbing a back injury. This method focuses on increasing muscle activation and awareness during smaller isolated movements. Barre Method or similar modalities like yoga or Pilates, combined with plyometric exercises for beginners is a great place to start building confidence and familiarity of plyometric exercises.

As you progress, you can begin to incorporate more plyo training into your weekly fitness routine.

Plyometrics guide - Dr. Axe
Why Go Plyo? 4 Benefits of Plyometrics

We know that football players, Olympic Track and Field athletes and baseball players use this type of training regularly to improve their athletic performance. But what are plyometric exercises good for? How can they help the everyday athlete improve their overall health and well-being?
1. Increased Agility

Plyometric training recruits the major muscles of the legs in a specific sequence. This sequence generates explosiveness, lower limb power and increases overall agility. (03)

This is important because agility is functional. Have you ever tripped on a curb or on your shoelace? Agility is the difference between just tripping and falling on your face. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines agility as “a state of being agile; marked by ready ability to move with quick easy grace.” And one of the best ways to improve your dexterity is through plyometrics.
2. It’s a Great Way to Mix Up Your Training

Do you ever feel like you’re in a training rut? Do you feel like you’ve plateaued and aren’t seeing the same improvements in your strength and stamina as when you started?

The body will adapt to the stress and stimulus you introduce to it. This principle is called the Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands or SAID. If you don’t continue to challenge your body in new ways, your performance will become static and unchanging. Introducing new movements and greater challenges keeps your mind engaged and your body agile.
3. Improves Your Cardiovascular Fitness

Yes, plyometric training is considered a cardio workout, plus it’s a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness because of the recruitment of the major muscle groups during each exercise. This along with varying the intensity and speed of each movement elicits the same response as running or rowing in increasing your heart rate. (04)
4. Increased Proprioception

Proprioception is a fancy word for your mind understanding where your body is in space in relation to other objects. The mind senses the world around us and tells the body how to respond in an efficient and effective manner. This connection, just like anything else, can be strengthen and trained.

By including plyometrics into your training routine, you teach yourself how to move more efficiently through space by increasing your reaction time, smoothing out your footwork and developing a greater awareness of yourself in space.
Top Plyometric Exercises

This list of plyometric exercises only includes some of the most common exercises you’ll see in general fitness programs or classes. The overall list is long and all exercises include some form of dynamic movement or jump training.

Whether you are looking for specific plyometric exercises for runners or beginners or new movements to include in your weekly training routine, these 10 plyo exercises are simple, require little equipment and are scalable to any population. Try adding one of these exercises to your next workout and feel the difference!
My Plyometric Workout

Plyometric exercises can be incorporated into your workouts in a multitude of ways. You can add a single movements as a superset by alternating between a weighted movement like a front squat or weighted lunge and a box jump. Or you can create longer plyometric circuits with 3–5 movements that creates one long workout.

What is a plyometric circuit? This type of workout takes multiple exercises and creates a series of movements to be completed one after the other. Time domains, rep schemes and movements can vary depending on your goals and current fitness level. But the great thing about circuit training is that it allow you to mix up your training, rest between movements and work your entire body or just a group of muscles so you never hit that dreaded plateau. (05)

Want to give it a try? This circuit is short and sweet and can be done for a single round or for multiple rounds depending on your fitness level and time restrictions. Before you start, make sure you warm-up properly before diving into this plyometric focused workout.

As with any fitness regime or modality, there are some precautions we want to acknowledge before diving into plyometric training.

1. Focus on precision and technique

Jump training should be graceful, smooth and light on your feet. Focus on landing onto the box or floor during any jumping movement lightly and with precision. Because of the dynamic nature of this movement, learning to land comfortably on your feet in the same position you started will help you prevent injuries and help you capture the benefits of this movement.

So what is a good landing position? You should land with your feet hips distance apart. Your knees should be bent to allow your shoulders to stack vertically over the center of your feet. (06)

2. Warm-up thoroughly before training begins

Before performing your workout, it is a critical that your muscles, heart and mind are ready to move. (07) Start by moving your whole body either by running, rowing or walking up stairs for up to 5 minutes. Then, move to dynamic stretches to increase your range of motion and then to muscle activation to make sure your muscles are firing correctly. Warm-ups are a great way to increase your performance and help prevent injuries for all plyometric exercises.

3. Don’t forget to rest!

When you first start to use plyometric boxes or add plyometric exercises to your routine, it’s critical that you not only rest between exercises to allow your body to adapt and prevent over use injuries but that you also take days off from this type of training. In as little as 2 training sessions a week, an athlete can improve their agility and athletic performance. (08)
One of the major draws for people who take up running to keep in shape is how little is needed. There’s no fancy equipment or expensive memberships to worry about — just lace up your sneakers, throw open the front door and hit the road. But while the runner’s high is fantastic, you might start to notice some not-so-great side effects: achy muscles, blackened toenails or plantar fasciitis, and other common running injuries.

That’s why I’ve compiled this list of nine ways to get the most out of each and every run. Even if you’re an intermediate, these running tips for beginners will improve your running, keep your body safe and make running a healthy activity you can enjoy for years to come.
9 Running Tips (for a Better Run!)
1. Warm up

You’ve got your playlist going and you’re ready to pound the pavement. But have you warmed up yet? Failing to do so before a run can lead to pulling a muscle, hurting a tendon or starting off at a too-fast pace that leaves you feeling exhausted and burnt out way before you’d like.

Skip static stretching, which does more harm than good. Instead, try a routine that will get your blood flowing and heart rate up, give your muscles a chance to warm up gently and open your joints at a slower pace. Start by walking at a brisk pace for several minutes then transitioning to a light jog for another few minutes. Then add some dynamic stretching and movements, like jumping jacks, squats or butt kicks to finish up.
2. Set a goal and run consistently

Sometimes we just want to get outside to get fresh air and clear our heads. But, in general, establishing a goal, whether it’s long-term or session-specific, will motivate you and can even improve your running. For instance, are you training for a race or hoping to reach a certain distance? Will you focus on interval running in this session instead of keeping a consistent pace? Are you simply hoping to get out for a run a certain number of days a week?

Remember, regarding running tips for beginners, the only way to achieve your goals is to keep at it. Some days you might not get the quality of run in you want, or you’ll head outside for less time than you’d have liked. That’s OK: Running consistently is more important than being a superstar every single time.

Do keep in mind that you want to set goals that are realistic and achievable, especially when you’re just starting out. Going from the couch to a full marathon in two months isn’t realistic (or good for you!). But going from the couch to a 5k is doable. In general, I don’t recommend increasing your mileage or running volume by more than 10 percent a week.

Eventually, if you aim to run a marathon, according to a 2013 International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, runners are advised to run a minimum of 18 miles per week before a marathon to reduce their risk of suffering a running‐related injury. (1)
3. Incorporate burst training

You don’t need to spend hours running to get great physical results. Burst training, or interval training, is one of the best ways to burn fat and lose weight. It combines short, high-intensity bursts of exercise with slow recovery phases repeated during a single exercise session. You’ll go for 85 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate instead of keeping it in the 50 to 70 percent range, the way you do when exercising at a moderate pace.

A simple way to do this after warming up is by sprinting for 20 seconds, then jogging for another 20 and repeating the cycle for 10 minutes to half an hour. Burst training is easy to modify to your level, too; the beauty of it is that it uses your personal “max strength” to get results. If your version of sprinting is walking briskly, that’s fantastic. If you can run like the wind around the track, that’s great, too. Just remember to keep challenging yourself, no matter where you’re at.
4. Cross-train

As great as running is for the body and mind, it shouldn’t be the only type of exercise you do. Running tips for beginners also means incorporating other types of workouts, or cross training, for you’ll strengthen muscles that aren’t used when running — also helping prevent injury — and give running muscles a chance to recover. Plus, it helps prevent burnout, as eventually, running for every single workout will get boring!

Make sure to alternate cross training on days when you’re not running or add it onto shorter running days. If you’re a long-distance runner, risk the temptation to sneak in cross-training activities during rest days; your body does need those to fully recover.

Unsure what to do? Swimming provides a great cardio workout while giving joints a chance to rest. You’ll strengthen your upper body and arms and increase endurance. Cycling is another cardio-centric exercise that complements running well. A Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study showed that cycle cross-training helped maintain aerobic performance during the recuperative phase between the cross-country and track seasons, comparable to devoting all cardio time to running only. (2)

Strength training is also critical. It gives you a chance to focus on underused muscles and strengthen your core, which maintains your form while running and keeps you from getting tired. Yoga and Pilates are also excellent workouts to stretch, increase flexibility and develop core strength. Or try Crossfit workouts to seriously challenge yourself.
5. Get the right pre- and post-run fuel

Your body needs the best foods for athletes before and after a run. The right mix will keep you energized throughout your workout session and then helping muscles recover afterward. In general, I recommend eating between one and two hours before running and then again 20 to 45 minutes after.

If you’re running a long distance or super intensely, I recommend getting something with a 4:1 carb to protein ratio beforehand, like goat milk yogurt with fruits, nuts and granola; sprouted grain bread (like Ezekiel bread) spread with your favorite nut butter; or a quinoa stir fry. Note: if you’re doing a long run at a steady pace, you’ll want some healthy fats in your meal to help endurance. But if you’re working out for a short period of time at a really high intensity, avoid fat, as the fat will hinder digestion when your heart rate goes up.

If you’re going out for a moderate-level run and are running for weight loss, I recommend a 2:1 carb to protein ratio, like a banana and a handful of nuts or a homemade Almond Butter Bar. For everyone, I recommend avoiding spicy foods, foods high in fat that are difficult to digest or high-fiber foods. And remember, see what works for you best.
6. Choose the right shoes

Running tips for beginners must also pertain to the type of shoes you use when you exercise, for it can make a huge difference on your comfort while running. I recommend going to a running store, being fit for a shoe and experimenting with different types. Depending on your foot’s shape and any previous injuries, you might find one style or brand suits you best.

Take note of sizes, as well; with a running sneaker, you’ll likely want to choose a shoe that’s one size up from your normal size. That’s because, as you run, your foot swells and you’ll want room to accommodate your newly grown feet. One sign your shoes aren’t the right size? You’re toenails are turning black or falling off often.

In the last several years, there’s been a surge and decline in barefoot and minimalist shoe running (think Vibrams, the five-fingered shoes). So don’t ditch your shoes just yet. If you have foot injuries, this style may exacerbate them while adding stress to feet. For example, 2013 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that running in minimalist footwear appears to increase the chance of injury, with full minimalist designs specifically increasing pain at the shin and calf. (3)

Meanwhile, another BJSM study that concerned only barefoot running was less conclusive about injury rate. Instead, it noted that “barefoot running changes the amount of work done at the knee and ankle joints, and this may have therapeutic and performance implications for runners.” (4) For ankle, there’s considerably less flexion at the ankle joint and knee joint, which can work well for some of us but not so well for others.

If you’re determined to feel the ground beneath your feet, stick to a low mileage on grass (where you can also benefit from the earthing effect) or a track instead of pavement. Or try a neutral shoe with light cushioning. It’ll provide the protection your foot needs while minimizing “extras.”
7. Watch out for surfaces

The surface you run on can be just as important as the type of shoes you wear. Because running is a high-impact sport, your joints and tendons are affected by what you clock miles on.

There are pros and cons to every surface. While grass is usually considered one of the best surfaces to run on because it’s soft and fairly low impact, you’ll need to be aware of uneven stretches to avoid twisting your ankle. If you’re training for a race, running on asphalt (aka the road) is useful so your body can acclimate to the conditions well before race day, though you’ll need to watch out for cars.

Treadmills are smooth and even, but they sure can get boring — run on an incline and incorporate interval training (try the Tabata protocol) to keep engaged. And though concrete sidewalks are considered one of the worst surfaces to run on, because of how hard they are, it might be the only option available to you.

Again, this one comes down to the options available to you and how your body responds. The best choice might be to alternate surfaces when you can; get a quick, high-energy morning run on a treadmill, take a long weekend run on a dirt trail, go for a jog with the dog in a grassy park and take a few mid-week runs on concrete.
8. Listen to your body

You might have noticed that I’ve mentioned seeing how your body responds throughout this article. That’s because it’s so important! Your body is constantly speaking to you, but it’s up to you to listen. When something hurts — and not the “hurts so good” type — don’t force yourself to soldier through. Take a rest or see a doctor.

Remember that what works for others, whether it’s a shoe, a time of day to train or even when to eat, might not be the same for you. Resist the urge to compare yourself and your running rituals to others and focus on keeping your own body happy.
9. Stretch!

After keeping you going through a workout, your muscles deserve a well-earned stretch, focusing on glutes, hamstrings, quads, IT bands (or iliotibial bands) and feet. I produced a video of my favorite IT band and glute stretches, especially for those of you who are used to sitting most of the day. The IT band runs along the outside of each leg and can be prone to tendonitis if you don’t take steps to keep it supple.

Yoga is also extremely helpful here, as many yoga poses ease tension in these places. I also highly recommend using a foam roller after each run to massage those body parts and work out any kinks that have developed. And if you suffer from plantar fasciitis, rolling the bottom of each foot over a tennis ball can help.

Jumping jacks go way back. That’s what I love most about this traditional exercise. You probably learned how to do the jumping jack while in elementary school. It’s a basic exercise that most anyone can perform, and can be modified to fit any fitness style needed — even for the newest exerciser.

What are jumping jacks good for? Jumping jacks are a classic type of calisthenics-style exercise that gets the whole body moving. It can be used as a warmup exercise to help get the blood pumping and the muscles warm and ready for a workout, or it can be part of a full-body workout, such as interval training, bootcamp, a HIIT-style workout and even on a trampoline.

Jumping jacks, sometimes called star jumps, require full-body movement. The movement is great for getting the heart rate up. The abduction and adduction of the legs and arms add the benefits of all-over body toning. Jumping jacks can be modified for the newest exerciser by eliminating the jump, to the most advanced by adding a squat and jumping as high as possible. This is known as a power jack.

Whatever style you choose, jumping jacks are amazing for gaining and maintaining fitness, reducing obesity, helping reduce the risk of osteoporosis, improving the cardiovascular system, increasing stamina and much more. (1, 2)
How to Do Jumping Jacks

A jumping jack can take a few forms, but here is how to do a basic jumping jack:

Step 1: Stand up straight, with your feet together and your hands down by your side.

Step 2: Jump your feet out to the side while raising your arms to the side and above your head.

Step 3: In one fluid motion, jump back to the starting position by lowering the arms and jumping the feet back together. That is one jumping jack.

Step 4: Continue this sequence as needed based on your workout. Typically, jumping jacks are done in sets or based on time. To do this, keep moving in a continuous motion, repeating the sequence until you accomplish your set or time goal, depending on the workout.
Benefits of Jumping Jacks
1. Great for Strong Bones

There has been a lot of controversy and speculation over the years about what exercise actually strengthen bones. Weightlifting is one way to do this, but some researchers suggest that quick jumping bursts can also do the trick. That means jumping jacks may be the perfect exercise for stronger bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

What happens is that the bones bend a little with each jumping motion, forcing new cell development. It’s the new cell creation that offers up more support for the bones, ultimately strengthening them. The good news is that you may not need to do a lot— just a little bit of explosive activity can lend itself to stronger bones. A study found that subjects who induced jumping for a certain period of time enjoyed more bone mass; therefore, stronger bones. (3, 4)
2. Good for The Heart

Jumping jacks offer benefits to combat heart disease. With as many as 250,000 heart-related deaths each year in the U.S., making cardio exercise like jumping jacks a part of your daily fitness routine seems like a no brainer.

If you are new to jumping activities, you definitely want to take it slow, and start with the modified no-jumping version if needed. Regardless, over time you will get stronger. This is key numerous experts in the field of fitness and wellness, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA). The 1996 US Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, shared scientific evidence that links regular physical activity to various measures of cardiovascular health.” (5)

3. Help Spark Weight Loss

It’s important to get the proper amount of exercise every week. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that you slowly and safely work up to doing about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity weekly. Another option is to combine the two. Jumping jacks offer the perfect fit for this recommendation. They can help you achieve and maintain your weight over time, as long as you are consistent. This activity, combined with a smart and healthy eating plan, can make a huge difference in helping you reach your goals. (6)
4. Could Help You Lose Belly Fat

While strength training with weights and specific abdominal exercises can help with visceral body fat, high-intensity exercise can really make a difference. Pairing smart caloric intake and regular, moderate-intensity exercise can help you burn more calories, reducing belly fat. (7, 8)
5. Help Increase Stamina

Stamina is what gives us the ability to combat fatigue and fight disease. Stamina helps us experience physical activity for longer periods of time. If you are new to exercise, you may notice feeling tired very quickly, but with time and commitment, you can build your stamina to be able to withstand exercise of physical activity longer.

This is important to your health because it improves the function of our muscles and can help with everyday activities, such as carrying a bag of groceries, much easier. While this may not seem important to our youth, it usually starts to affect mature adults at some point.

The development of healthy stamina comes from the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen. For anyone dealing with disease, having stamina is of greater important since it can be more difficult to perform many activities, and it can even help prevent back problems as you age. (9) (10)
6. Reduce Risk of Many Health Conditions

Jumping jacks fit in the category of aerobic exercise. In addition to helping with obesity, strong bones and heart disease, aerobic exercise helps reduce the risk of numerous health conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke and even some forms of cancer.

Studies show that regular physical activity can help reduce the development of disease, such as colon cancer, but nearly 40 percent. (11, 12) There is plenty of evidence showing how regular physical activity is a great preventive measure of many chronic diseases. In fact, studies suggest that is is directly related to the reduced risk of an early death. (13)
Jumping Jack Circuit Workout

When performing any exercise, remember to maintain proper form. If at any time, you feel any pain, stop immediately. If you are new to exercise, it is important to take it slow.

For this workout, you will need a timer or some way to track your time. The workout consist of 3-4 sets of 6 exercises performed for 1 minute each, followed by 15 seconds of rest and 1 minute of rest between each exercise.

Perform each exercise for 60 seconds

The Workout

Perform each exercise for 60 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds between each exercise. Once you have completed one set, rest for 60 seconds. Repeat for a total of 3 to 4 sets.

How to Do the Exercises

Jumping Jacks

Stand with feet a little more than hip distance apart. Arms at your side. Begin by jumping your feet out the sides while raising your arms to the side, to a level above your head, then returning to the start Do this in one continuous movement. If you want to make a little harder, perform a power jack by going into a half squat each time you land and by jumping as high as you can each time you jump.

Beginner Jumping Jacks

Instead of jumping, step one foot at a time out to the side while raising your arms.

Deep Squats

Stand with feet hip distance apart, keeping your abs tight. Lower into a squat by sticking your glutes back as if sitting in a chair (while keeping your upper body upright). Go as low as you can, trying to get your quads parallel to the ground. As you return to your starting position, squeeze the glutes. Try to put all of your weight in your heels as you perform this exercise.

Beginner Squats

Do half squats by starting in the same position, but instead of going all the way down to the parallel position, only go half way, then return to the starting position. Again, make sure to squeeze your glutes on the way up and keep your weight in your heels throughout the exercise.

Plank Alternating Push-ups

To perform this exercise, get in push-up position, keeping elbows slightly bent and hands directly under the shoulders. Make sure your body is straight from your head to your feet. To help, slightly tuck the hips and squeeze the abs.

Now, lower to the forearms, starting with the left arm. Once both arms are bent and you are on both forearms, lift back up to starting position by pushing up with the right hand. Continue this sequence, alternating arms.

Beginner Plank Alternating Push-ups

Perform the above exercise, but on the knees instead of the toes. Make sure to keep the neck and back aligned.

Static Lunges

Stand with one foot forward in a lunge position keeping your front knee at a 90 degree angle and upper body upright. Lunge as low as possible, but without the back knee touching the floor, then return to the starting position and repeat in a continuous movement.

Perform 30 seconds on each leg. To make it harder, you can do jumping lunges. To do this, start in the same position. Keeping your balance, jump to switch your foot positioning by taking the front foot back and the back foot to the front, much like scissor jumps but with a deep lunge. You can use your arms to assist in the jumping motion. For example, when the left foot is forward, the right arm will be forward. It should be natural. Make sure to land softly, switching in a continuous movement.
If you were to ask me what exercise I would perform if given only one option, it would undoubtedly be the burpee. Burpees hits almost every muscle group while providing the aerobic and endurance benefits. It even helps strengthen the core. (It is important to note, though, the person has to be in proper shape to start off as this complex exercise can lead to injury if the exerciser isn’t ready for it.)

To be clear, this exercise is not an easy one. In fact, some people make breaking world burpee records a priority. On May 17, 2014, in Greenwood, South Carolina,  a gentleman by the name of Cameron Dorn broke two burpee world records. He performed 5,657 within a 12-hour period. He also completed the most burpees in a 24-hour period, finishing with a whopping 10,105. Another world record was achieved on October 21, 2013, in Portland, Oregon, by Lloyd Weema. He broke the burpee world record for the most chest to ground burpees performed in 72 hours with 9,480.

The burpee, also known as a squat thrust, is a full body exercise that incorporates four steps. The basic burpee is called a four-count burpee and starts in a standing position. From there, follow these four steps:

Count 1: Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground.
Count 2: Kick your feet back, placing your body into a plank position, while keeping your arms extended.
Count 3: Jump your feet back into the squat position.
Count 4: Jump up from the squat position.

Often, the burpee is performed as a six-count bodyweight exercise where a push up and an explosive jump is added to the mix, making this love/hate exercise even harder. The burpee is using so much energy that it is easy to get fatigued very quickly. This is one of the reasons that it is often incorporated into a challenge of some sort such as the 100 burpee workout. The fatigue happens very quickly due to the full body movements and, in some cases, up to three jumps not to mention the push up if you decide to add that.

Spartan Races require participants to do 30 burpees in a row if they choose to skip an obstacle– clearly a form of punishment that goes to show just how tough the exercise is! The Spartan Races are not the only ones that use the burpee as a form of punishment. The popular Cross-Fit gyms require a number of burpees to be performed for anyone arriving to class late. (1)
History of Burpees

Let’s get into the history of the burpee. A physiologist named Royal H. Burpee developed the burpee in the 1930s by using it as a fitness test. He used the test as part of his doctoral thesis in applied physiology from Columbia University in 1940. It became popular when the United States Armed Services used it as a way to assess the fitness level of recruits during World World II. It allowed the military to quickly review agility, coordination and strength. (2) 

We learned more of this through Mr. Burpee’s granddaughter, Burpee Dluginski, who has shared that her grandfather was a “fitness fanatic before the famous Jack Lalanne.” What was important to Burpee was to be able to measure the fitness level of everyday people. Around 1939, the invention and the official test of the burpee began with members of the YMCA in the Bronx, which is where Burpee worked.

Burpee’s granddaughter says that the official movement has become known as a squat thrust, a four-count burpee, a front-leaning rest and a military burpee. The test was applied by measuring the heart rate of the subjects before and after four burpees were performed so that he could determine how efficient the heart was at pumping blood.

This measurement was a good indication of fitness level and apparently so good that the military used it as a fitness test. Initially, the test was for 20 seconds, later moving to one minute with 41 being considered excellent while 27 was considered a poor fitness level. (3, 4)
5 Reasons to Do Burpees
1. Burpees Are a Full-Body Workout

As I noted above, if you told me I had to choose only one exercise, I would definitely choose the burpee. Most exercises work on specific muscles or muscle groups; whereas, the burpee pretty much works it all. You can even modify it to ensure full body work. For example, when in the plank position, throw in a tricep pushup and you are now including the triceps while working legs, core and other upper body muscles!
2. Burpees Add Strength
Let’s face it, burpees are tough and often fall into the the dreaded exercise category. You love the results, but they are so hard, that getting through 10 of them is enough of a challenge for most. The thing to keep in mind is that just like anything else, practice offers more. At first, doing even 3 burpees may be as far as you can go, but if you stay with it, you will be able to do way more because you will get stronger. Those 3 burpees can turn into 43 in no time!

A recent study reported the evaluation of active women and their aerobic fitness and muscular endurance when performing whole-body weight high intensity training to include burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, or squat thrusts as compared to specific single interval exercises such as leg presses. The data indicated that although improvements in cardiovascular fitness and strength are evident by both endurance and low volume interval-style training, “whole-body aerobic-resistance training imparted addition benefit in the form of improved skeletal muscle endurance.”  (5)
3. Burpees Can Be Done Almost Anywhere

What I love about burpees is that I can take them with me wherever I go! There is no need for any additional equipment beyond body weight. That makes them the perfect exercise to do almost anywhere, so you have no excuse to keep up with your fitness, even when traveling.

A study of Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets investigated how the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) impacted fitness levels. Twenty-six college-aged participants completed 4 weeks of exercise training in just 3 days. This consisted of 60 minutes of general physical training such as whole-body calisthenics, incorporating “all-out” burpees. The results showed sustained fitness even though the duration of the calisthenics was short. An exercise program that includes HIIT may be the best way to maintain fitness without access to equipment. (6)
4. Burpees Build Definition

Burpees are working arms, chest, butt, hamstrings, quadriceps and a ton of core. With all that work, it is impossible to avoid getting a more defined and toned physique. Proper form is key; however, you need to take your time while performing the exercise to make sure you avoid injury and reap the benefits of this amazing all-in-one exercise. Once you have mastered it, you can start to challenge yourself with increased speed.
5. Burpees Increase Endurance

There’s nothing like 10 burpees in a row to get your heart pounding. A study showed that cardiovascular benefits were gained with calisthenics as compared to cycling indicating that both are beneficial in building endurance and cardiovascular strength. This happens because you are working numerous muscle groups all at one time. The demand for oxygen increases with this work.

Over time, you will be able to perform more of them because you your body will have the ability to use this oxygen more efficiently. This is when speed combined with perfect form come into play making you stronger and more efficient at performing the burpee. This work will offer benefits to other fitness endeavors too. (7, 8)
Burpee Workouts

There are many ways to do a burpee workout. Have you heard of the Burpee Mile? This is where you do a burpee with a broad jump for the distance of a mile. There is the popular 100 Burpee Challenge that may intrigue you. Not ready for that? How about trying one of my burpee workouts and work your way towards your next challenge! (9)

Even though the burpee may sound intimidating, it is really simple. Here are the basic instructions for performing the classic burpee.

    Now that you know the move, practice it a couple of times to make sure you have good form. Keep the abs tight. If jumping is too much right now, just stand upright instead. Also, instead of jumping the legs out to the plank position, you can walk them out to the position. Once you are stronger, you will be able to perform the exercise consecutively based on the instructions of the workout. If you need a break, take 10 to 15 seconds, then resume. Over time, you will be able to do more at a faster pace.

Perform 5 sets of 10 burpees with a 45 second rest between each set, but add a pushup when in plank position.

Challenge: Add 2 push-ups with a side knee tuck! To do this, once you are in plank position, perform a push up. As you go down, bring your right knee to your right elbow. Repeat on the left side. Then, resume the burpee. This one is tough, but offers amazing core benefits.

Burpee Workout with Push Up and High Knee Tuck Jump —Advanced

Perform the burpee as prescribed above, but when you stand up to do the jump, explode into a high knee tuck jump. To do this, as you explode upward into the jump, tuck the knees and try gently slapping your knees as a reminder to brings the knees up as high as you can.

Burpee Circuit Superset Workout

Similar to burst training and some of my Burst Fit workouts, you will perform 4 sets of 4 exercises for one minute each with a 10 second rest between each exercise, and a one minute rest between each set. Do as many as you can during the interval.

Exercise 1: Mountain Climbers

Get in plank position and move the feet forwards and backwards, one at a time, in a fluid movement. Do not touch toes to the ground with the forward foot. Keep abs tight.

Exercise 2: Jumping Jacks

This is the classic jumping jack that you have known since childhood. Simply stand with feet hip distance apart. Arms at your sides. Jump feet out to the sides while taking your arms out the side and up above your head.

Exercise 3: Burpees

Start by positioning yourself in a standing position. Then, drop down into a squat position placing your hands on the ground. Next, extend your feet back in one quick motion resulting in the front plank position. Return to the squat position in one quick movement. Jump straight into the air as high as possible. You can add the push-up and/or the high knee tuck jump as described above for a bigger challenge.

Exercise 4: Squats

Start with feet a little wider than hip distance apart. Keep the upper body as upright as possible during this exercise. Go down into a squat as if sitting in a chair. Try to go down until the quads are parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Burpee Precautions

If you are suffering from pack pain and find yourself seeking back pain relief, you may want to avoid doing the burpees. While if performed correctly, it should not cause problems, it is an exercise that uses most of the body. Additionally, if you suffer from vertigo, this exercise may be difficult to perform. And again, it’s best to work with a fitness professional, at least at the beginning, to make sure your form is correct and you’re not exercising with muscle imbalances. This can also lead to injury.

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