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For generations, the burpee has been used in fitness, sports performance, military training, and many other such activities. The exercise is renowned for separating those who are well-conditioned from those who aren’t and should engage in doing more burpees. Most of us have had some experience with burpees, and most of our experiences are likely similar as all burpee workouts end in grueling exhaustion. But that is because Royall Huddleston Burpee Sr.—the man who devised the burpee—created it as a test to gage one’s fitness. His name lives in infamy as his name and exercise is used in many ways from weight-loss workouts to a means of punishment for an unorganized football team.

But why is the burpee such a great workout? What makes it that way? The burpee requires no equipment and uses the entire body. In this way alone it’s a great workout as it eliminates excuses surrounding the necessity of a gym membership or the need for weight equipment. In addition, it’s certainly a full-body workout, and anyone who has done a burpee routine understand this. The burpee in its most-basic form engages the legs, shoulders, hips, chest, buttocks, abdominals, arms, and incorporates an incredible cardiovascular workout. Of course, while one burpee by itself is not difficult, the endless repetition of the stand-squat-plank-squat-stand motion quickly builds on itself to create the taxing and draining effect for which burpees are famous. What else the burpee provides in such a simple workout is a great way to burn through calories—depending on one’s weight. Some studies have shown that—for example—a person who weighs 200 pounds can burn a little less than 20 calories per minute of continuous burpees completed. That’s a ton of burned calories for such a short amount of time, but burpees are no shortcut. The immense effort needed to complete a successful burpee workout takes little time yet requires much energy. If you want the reward you have to put in the effort. But maybe this is the reason why such a simple exercise from the 1930s has stuck around for so long. While much effort is needed, little time is required to have such significant effects.

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