Making burpees more knee friendly

Posted on August 15, 2012

(Last Updated On: March 9, 2018)

One of my more enjoyable exchanges with clients:

Me “Have you done burpees before?”

Client “Hmm, maybe, I’m not sure.”

Me “Then you haven’t…Everyone remembers burpees after about 10 of them.”

Then I demonstrate a few of them and go, “Yes, these suck.”

(For all the Cross Fit psychos yes, I realize the person didn’t do a push-up. If you want to add a push-up to this go head, but not everyone who can do a burpee can also do push-ups.)

Other than making your legs feel like lava and having a propensity for causing regurgiation, burpees are awesome.

They are probably one of the most hated exercises due to the ass kicking they typically give, but they’re a great way to get blood flowing and make people feel like they’re getting a good workout. I typically include them in circuit style routines.

That said, they aren’t always the friendliest to the knees due to the great deal of knee bend required, and the fact the knees travel so far forward over the toes.

You can avoid the knee bend by straightening the legs more, but people will often start rounding their back in order to jump up:

A little get around for this is to add a Groiner to the burpee. Instead of bringing the knees and feet up towards the inside of the arms, bring them up to the outside of the hands:

This provides a great groin stretch (hence “Groiner”), which most people could use, and is much friendlier to the knees.

Just make sure you don’t allow the knees to cave in:

You want to keep them nice and open:

Finally, make sure the feet are nice and flat, which will provide a bit of ankle mobility as well. Don’t let them come up:

Another example,

As usual, it’s not what you do…it’s how you do it.


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