Burpees are better for toning your whole body, here's why

Burpees feel tough but they use more muscles than other exercises making them more effective for a few reasons

Woman performs burpee
(Image credit: Getty)

A lot of people groan when they find out burpees are included in a workout. But once you get past any burpee animosity you will discover that they can be a more effective way of working out than other exercises. There is even scientific evidence to back this up.

The burpee is a great high-impact exercise that can help people burn fat fast, hence why it is often classed as one of the best exercises for weight loss. While people often like to hop on popular cardio machines like the best treadmill or one of the best exercise bikes instead, burpees might actually be easier.

A research paper published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research compared the responses of US Army Reserve members who completed either short bursts of burpees exercise or sprint interval cycling. 

They discovered that single sessions of low-volume, high-intensity intermittent burpees had similar cardiorespiratory and metabolic adaption outcomes as sprint interval cycling, and that the burpee group perceived burpees to be 'easier' than cycling.

To conduct this research, they divided the reserves into two groups. The cycle group completed "all-out" bursts of cycling against resistance for 30-seconds and cycled against no resistance as they had an active recovery period of four minutes after each sprint. 

Meanwhile, the burpee group completed as many burpees as they could for 30 seconds, followed by four minutes of active recovery spent stepping at a pace of their choice. Each group repeated this cycle three times over for four sets in total.

Woman performs burpees in an outdoor workout

(Image credit: Getty)

The researchers think that the burpee group found their training easier because a larger amount of whole-body musculature is active when performing burpees, sharing the load and effort. Whereas sprint-interval cycling mostly relies on the leg flexor and extensor muscles.

This means if you are looking to build muscle and tone your whole body as efficiently as possible, then performing metabolic exercise such as burpees is a better option than exercises like sprints.

The study offers evidence that training with burpees in an interval-style workout is an effective metabolic exercise. Metabolic conditioning, or performing moderate-to-high-intensity moves with short rests in between, will maximize calories burned in your workout and after exercising. If you're looking to get started, why not give this 30-day HIIT challenge a go?

Also, unlike cycling or running sprints, you don't need to worry about equipment or specific terrain with burpees. They require no equipment and take up minimal space to perform so they are a fuss-free exercise that you can complete anywhere really.

However, there is no harm in using both styles of exercise. Workouts get boring when they repeat themselves. Investing in a pair of best cross training shoes will allow you to train flexibly across various sports but just in one pair of trainers.

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 


When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.