Some people might think that doing 50 burpees every day for a month isn’t that bad. Others might think that it sounds downright awful – but for me, I thought it sounded like a reasonable, if not exactly enjoyable, proposition.
I figured as long as I was dressed in a pair of the best cross training shoes and some comfy kit, I’d be able to squeeze them into my daily routine. It’s fair to say that it wasn’t as easy as I imagined it was going to be.
The challenge: 50 burpees every day
I attempted to tackle ‘basic’ burpees every day. Here's how you do them:
- Start by standing upright, with your feet hip width apart
- Drop down into a squat, placing both hands on the floor in front of you
- Kick your legs back behind you, so that your body is in the high plank position
- Do a complete push-up and come back to plank
- Jump both feet up in between your hands
- Explosively jump back up to standing
There are loads of burpee variations you can try – you can skip the push-up, if you find these too challenging, and you can walk your legs back into the plank position to make the movement less tiring. I confess, I tended to complete three proper push-ups in a set of burpees before I resorted to skipping this movement and flopping down to the floor.
I decided to forgive myself for this lack of form, as a proper burpee is not easy. They are, however, a great compound exercise; not only do they work the heart and lungs (it’s a pretty intense cardio move) but they work the upper body muscles and the lower body too, thanks to the push-ups and jumping involved.
So what happens when you try and do 50 of them a day? It’s fair to say that my body took a bit of a beating over the month-long challenge. Here are the main things I noticed at the end of the 30-day period.
1. My core got it
Wow, who knew that 50 burpees would work my core so much? I guess jumping back, planking, then adding in a press up fires up the midsection. So if it’s a core workout you’re looking for, I’d recommend adding a few burpees in the mix.
2. But my arms felt it more
If you’re doing a burpee properly, then there should be a press up at the bottom. I did try to stick to this for at least five burpees, and even in that time, I felt my arms start to fire up. By the end of my 50 burpees, my upper arms and shoulders were crying, despite ditching the press ups and just going into full flop mode.
3. My knees ended up with floor burns
Not everyone will get floor burns from burpees. However, I found that on a regular gym floor, which is typically made from a rubber material, my knees ended up a little pinker than usual and slightly bruised. I guess bashing them on the floor 50 times at the bottom of a burpee definitely had an impact.
You could try softening the blow with one of the best yoga mats, but I’m not sure that this would make a difference if you’re completing the full set of 50.
4. Burpees are boring
If you’ve ever done a string of burpees, you’ll know that you spend the majority of the time looking at the floor. After about 30 burpees, I was praying for the experience to be over. Especially when I noticed my knees and stomach were filthy.
Also, 50 burpees takes a while. Completing 50 non chest-to-floor burpees took about 2 minutes 12 seconds. Yes I timed it. This might not seem like a lot but it felt like about two hours.
5. I skipped several days
I’ll hold my hands up, I did about 24 days. I had to travel to Australia in the middle of this challenge, and I didn’t fancy doing burpees on the plane.
I also found that I was much less motivated to do the burpees if I wasn’t doing a workout; so on the days when I skipped the gym and headed out for a run, I couldn’t muster up the motivation to tag the moves onto my sprinting sessions. Probably because I couldn’t face the boredom.
Would I do this challenge again? No. Absolutely not. My knees hurt, I am sick of staring at the floor and honestly, I have now developed a huge dislike for the burpee.
Although the burpee is quite clearly a great move for the full body, it’s brutal and there are various other exercises you could do that would likely work your body in the same way (I'd take squats and overhead presses over burpees any day).
By all means, give this a try, but wear some knee shields and have some very good music playing in the background for entertainment purposes.
Lucy is a freelance journalist specializing in health, fitness and lifestyle. She was previously the Health and Fitness Editor across various women's magazines, including Woman&Home, Woman and Woman’s Own as well as Editor of Feel Good You. She has also previously written for titles including Now, Look, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Red and The Sun.
She lives and breathes all things fitness; working out every morning with a mix of running, weights, boxing and long walks. Lucy is a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios. Plus, she's pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to many classes of champagne and tequila on the rocks whilst out with her friends.
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