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"Ultimate Burpees - The Ultimate Cardio?"

(originally published at bodybuilding.com)

I'm sure that at one point or another, you've all done Burpees. Sometimes called a Squat Thrust, this simple little exercise is usually a staple in most elementary school P.E. programs.

Like most kids, you probably HATED Burpees. I know I did. Why? Because they were HARD!! They made you breathe hard, your legs would burn, your shoulders and chest would ache... and you'd be pouring sweat when you were done. But, like most other things in P.E. class, especially the things we didn't like doing, Burpees are good for you.

After all these years, I still do Burpees. Doing just a few serves as a great warm-up, and doing just a few between sets while strength training is a great way to keep your heart rate up and actively recover. In fact, Burpee only workouts, if done right, can be real pukers!

One of the great things about Burpees (in my opinion, its best trait) is that it is virtually infinitely versatile. That is, you can get as simple as a 4-count Squat Thrust, as advanced as an 8-Count Bodybuilder, or anywhere in between, depending on your current level of conditioning.

Enter what I call the "Ultimate Burpee". Forget everything else you ever knew or remembered about Burpees, because these are going to cause you to have all new nightmares.

Performing The Ultimate Burpee

I was reading in an online forum about a fellow's experimentation with different versions of the Burpee. I then had an epiphany (of sorts) and came up with the Ultimate Burpee. I went outside right away and tried some. Immediately I knew I was onto something.

I experimented a little bit, and finally settled on the below:

--Stand erect with hands at sides
--Squat down, put hand on ground just outside feet
--Keeping hands planted on the ground, thrust feet back and apart, so that you land in the "up" position of a Dive Bomber Push-Up
--Perform one Dive Bomber
--Thrust feet forward so that you're back in the squatted position
--Keeping your feet planted on the ground, thrust your body forward so that you land in the "up" position of a regular Push-Up
--Perform one Push-Up
--Thrust your body back so that you're back in the squatted position
--Stand up

*The above equals one rep.

Ultimate Burpee Variations

If ever there was a "full body" exercise, this has to be one. Try and tell me a body-part that isn't taxed in one way or another during this exercise. But, remember how I said that Burpees were great because they could be modified so easily? The Ultimate Burpee is no exception.

Just in case you're one of the true sickos out there who just loves to punish yourself during workouts, try one of the following variations:

-At the end of the rep, instead of just standing up, perform a Jump Squat (squat down, then jump up), Star Jump (jump and spread your arms and legs like a starfish), or Tuck Jump (jump and tuck your legs in at the top).

-Do this exercise near (preferably directly under) a Chinning bar. At the end of each rep, jump up to the Chin bar and do one Pullup or Chin.

-Wear a weighted vest while doing Ultimate Burpees (I get nauseous just thinking about that idea).

-Do Ultimate Burpees while holding onto 10-20 lb. Dumbbells (trust me - after five reps, 10 lbs. never felt so heavy).

-Do Ultimate Burpees while holding onto a Medicine Ball (can you say "instability"?).

-Do Ultimate Burpees while wearing a Lifeline USA Portable Power Jumper.

Or, you can mix and match. How about an Ultimate Burpee with a Tuck Jump up to a Chinning bar while wearing a weighted vest? Ugh.

You get the idea. Don't do too many to start off with. 10 sets x 5 reps with 60 seconds rest in between should be more than enough for most people. Gradually add reps to each set, working your way up to 10 sets x 10 reps. At this point, you should be a bona fide "stud". Or, you'll be proficient at puking up your lunch - one or the other.

Train Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard.

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