The three-minute burpee test is the perfect no-time, full-body HIIT workout

The International Burpee Test is a simple but difficult workout. How high can you score?

Performing burpees
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's plenty of argument for having a workout using lots of different kit. After all, that's why gyms exist, and there's lots of different workouts you can do at home utilizing all sorts of equipment. 

Whether you love using the best elliptical machines for low-impact, steady-state cardio or simply use a set of the best adjustable dumbbells to build muscle, sometimes it's nice to ditch the gym equipment get back to basics and do an extremely short workout with no kit needed – just three minutes and a bit of space. 

Enter the International Burpee Test. It's a HIIT workout, a measure of your fitness, and a horrible experience all rolled into one. But it will make you a fitter, stronger person. 

The rules are simple: set a timer for three minutes, and perform as many burpees as you can before the timer goes off. That could be in 20-second intervals, it could be all in one go, or you could pace yourself – whichever way you want to play it. But you need to keep going until those 180 seconds are up. 

Performing the Burpee Test

(Image credit: Getty Images)

An international poll (opens in new tab) was conducted of 3,862 women and 5,971 men, all between the ages of 18-25, and all of them were put through the test to determine how fit they were. The research found: "Men completed 56.69 [burpee] cycles/3 min and women 48.84/3 min, on average. The best male participant completed 82 burpees, and the best female participant 73 burpees." Can you beat that? It's time to find out. 

Burpees are a difficult movement to do, and a great measure of fitness, because they incorporate so many muscle groups and use so much energy. You need upper-body strength to push up from the floor, lower-body strength to jump at the end, cardiovascular endurance and good respiratory health to keep going. Small wonder they're considered one of the best exercises for weight loss.

Burpees develop all of these abilities, especially if performed regularly, and research (opens in new tab) found the exercise "elicits vigorous cardiorespiratory and perceptual responses and may confer physiological adaptations and performance improvements", performing just as well as a spin class. 

So it's not just about testing your fitness limits: if you don't have time for a workout, or you need a quick stress-buster, you find three minutes and an empty space and challenge yourself to beat your own Burpee Test record.

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.