Featured Articles, Weight Loss Workouts

100 Burpees a Day: My Fall Fitness Challenge

Yep, you read that right. Every day for the next month, I’m going to do 100 burpees a day.

Why would I do that? Because a friend dared me to, and I’m not good at saying no to a dare. Apparently this 100-burpees-a-day challenge is quite popular. And it actually sounds like a lot of fun. I like a challenge and my fitness routine of late could use a little zing, a little pep in its step. I think this will be just the thing.

Now, you’re probably wondering, isn’t that going to be really, really, really hard and possibly painful? Yes, and probably yes. I don’t know what to expect, really, I’ve never done 100 burpees a day. Even in my years of doing burpees in Crossfit, I’m not sure if I recall ever doing a WOD (workout of the day) that required 100 of them. But, I wouldn’t be surprised. We did some crazy things in Crossfit (and that’s a whole other article in itself!)

I do know that burpees are a fantastic full-body exercise that can be super effective for building muscle and burning calories. Are you interested in trying the challenge or at least working your way up to it? Read on to find out all the benefits of burpees (not necessarily 100 of them a day) and how to do them.

Why Would Anyone Want to Do Burpees?

Burpees are much maligned by almost everyone. They’re challenging, they fatigue your muscles quickly, and they involve jumping, which is not everyone’s cup of tea. They also involve changing from a vertical position to a horizontal position and then back to vertical in quick succession, which can make some people (including me) feel a little queasy.

BUT, they are a REALLY good exercise! As I mentioned above they are a full-body exercise for building muscle and they also provide a great cardio workout at the same time.

When you do burpees the muscles worked include:

  • arms
  • shoulders
  • chest
  • abdominal
  • upper and lower back
  • quads
  • glutes
  • hamstring

That is essentially your entire body. Do burpees build muscle? I think so!

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Will 100 burpees a day help weight loss?

Heck yeah! If you’ve ever done a burpee, or a string of burpees, you know how taxing they are and how quickly they boost your heart rate. So how many calories do burpees burn?

When performed as intended, burpees are a high-impact exercise, similar to high-impact aerobics. The University of Rochester Medical Center estimates that a person weighing 150 pounds can burn 500 to 700 calories doing high-impact aerobics for one hour.

That’s roughly 10 calories per minute. Not bad! You could bust out a few burpees in your kitchen while you’re waiting for your eggs to cook and burn 10 or 20 calories. Or not.

So how many calories does 100 burpees burn? Well, that depends entirely on how quickly you’re able to knock them out. And that depends largely on your fitness level. Super fit people may be able to do 100 burpees in 4 to 6 minutes. But for a person of average fitness, it might take closer to 10 minutes. If you’re new to burpees, and especially to doing a lot at one time, it could take you 12 minutes or more to complete 100.

This is only an estimate because calorie burn varies so much from person to person, but if it took you 10 minutes to complete 100 burpees, you’d burn approximately 100 calories. That’s 1 calorie per burpee!

I’ll wear my fitness tracker when I’m doing mine and I’ll report back on my 100 burpees a day results, including how many calories I burn.
100 burpees a day results

How to Do a Burpee

There are as many different ways to do a burpee as there are reasons why people hate burpees. A lot of people do them wrong, and it’s not just their “interpretation” of the exercise that’s wrong; they are actually making mistakes that can be detrimental to the body and cause injury. So without ado, here is the correct way to do a burpee:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Squat down, keeping your shoulders higher than your hips to prevent your back from rounding.
  3. Place your palms on the ground just inside your knees, and jump back to a plank position.
  4. Keep your shoulders aligned over your wrists and do not allow your hips to sag or pike up. Your body should be in one straight line from your heels to your head.
  5. Lower down until your chest is about a couple inches from the floor, then press straight back up again.
  6. Jump your feet forward again, trying to land as close as you can to your starting position. Your knees should be just outside your elbows and tracking over your toes.
  7. Stand up and immediately go into the jump, raising your hands overhead.
  8. Land with slightly bent knees and go down into a squat for your next burpee.

How to Do a Modified Burpee

Many people can’t do a full regular burpee either because of mobility issues or lack of muscle strength or both. No problem! There are a couple different variations if you’re struggling with burpees that can make them easier and help you build up the strength and mobility you need to do a full burpee.

The best way to modify a burpee is just to take out the pushup. Lower down into the squat, jump back to plank, jump forward again, and jump up.

Need something even easier? A great burpee for beginners variation is to take out the pushup and the jump. Lower down into the squat, step your feet back to plank, then step your feet forward. Stand up to your starting position and repeat.

Whatever variation you do, just remember to keep your core muscles tight, don’t round your upper back too much when you reach your hands down to jump back, and don’t let your hips sag in the plank or the pushup—that puts too much pressure on the lower back.

When you’re doing a lot of burpees at a time, it’s easy to get fatigued and let your form deteriorate. You may get the medal for most burpees done ever in a day, but your body will pay the price. No reason to get injured just for bragging rights.

Speaking of bragging rights—maybe a regular old burpee isn’t enough of a challenge for ya? How about this extreme variation called a superman burpee?!

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Alternatives to Burpees

Maybe you’ve read this far and are thinking, nope, uh uh, no thank you, I’ll pass on the burpees. Hey, that’s cool. There are plenty of other exercises you can do that might not suck nearly as much as burpees but will still get you the same results.

Consider these alternatives to burpees:

Jump squats: You’re basically cutting off the whole jump back-plank-pushup-jump forward part. Just squat down and jump up. Repeat.

Kettlebell swings: It’s hard to see the similarities between jump squats and kettlebell swings, but both provide a full-body workout, build muscle and power, and provide a great cardiovascular workout. Good form is critical. Lucky you, I’ve included a 60-minute video from the American Council on Exercise that deep dives into how to do a kettlebell swing. Enjoy!

Medicine ball slams: Another exercise lacking all similarity to burpees, but like kettlebell swings, actually providing a lot of the same benefits as burpees. Plus, it’s a great way to get out some pent up frustration.

Conclusion

So, there’s nothing in the official 100-burpees-a-day challenge rules (because there are no rules) that say you have to do the burpees all at one time. My plan is to break it up into sets of 10 or 20 throughout the day. I can do a quick set of 10 when I wake up, another set of 20 for my mid-morning break, 10 or 20 before lunch, and another 10 or 20 as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

That’s 50 to 70 burpees already done. I’ll do the rest as my warm up for my evening workout. No sweat! Figuratively, of course, because there’s likely going to be a lot of sweat.

Have you done a 100-burpees-a-day challenge or any other kind of fitness challenge? How did you do? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments!

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Jody Braverman, NASM-CPT, NASM-FNS, PN1

Jody Braverman is a certified nutrition, fitness, and weight loss expert who has been working in the health & fitness industry for over two decades.

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