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The One Exercise You Should Be Doing

posted: 05/06/16
by: Ashley Lauretta
picture of woman exercising
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If you do only have time to do one exercise each day, what should it be? That question is a lot harder to answer than you'd think. There are so many factors that go into choosing what workout is best for you -- including personal preference -- but there is one move you can do that engages your entire body. The burpee combines strength and cardio and can help make you stronger for whatever your exercise of choice is, from yoga to Crossfit and everything in-between.

"The burpee exercise was developed by Dr. Royal Burpee as a way to evaluate physical fitness," explains Kyle Golden, a certified fitness trainer and founder of Work It Personal Training in Austin, Texas. "The burpee was adopted by the U.S. military to measure the fitness levels of soldiers."

If that sounds too hardcore for your current fitness level, the burpee is actually a great move because you can add variations to make it easier or harder. As you gain strength, you can kick things up a notch and keep increasing your strength and repetitions.

To do a burpee, follow this 5-step breakdown from Golden:

  1. Stand tall with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Squat to the ground and place your hands on the ground in front of or right beside your feet.
  3. Jump out and thrust your legs and feet fully behind you into a plank or push-up position
  4. Perform a push-up to the ground and return to a full arm extension.
  5. Jump and thrust the legs back into your body to the squat position and then explosively jump into the air, returning to a standing position.

Golden notes you can repeat this move as many times as you like until you are tired. You can even challenge yourself and start doing the move continuously for 30 seconds. Each day (or week, depending on your level of fitness) add an additional 30 seconds. You can measure your progress and make sure you aren't just staying a base level fitness.

"In my experience, most clients find the burpee to be their all-time most hated exercise," muses Golden. "It takes a lot of energy and coordination to perform a proper burpee and not everyone will have the ability to do this motion."

Should you need a bit of a modification as you learn the move, eliminate step four--the pushup--and just jump your feet out of and back into squat position. As your strength increases, try adding in the push-up.