You know you’ve been writing about fitness for a long time (hi there!) when a thing that was supposed to be a Really Good Thing of which you can’t get enough, is now on the Bad For You list. We’ve been there with food. Eggs? Sugar? White bread? And also with exercise. Does running make you thin or fat? Who knows and who cares? Right? Right.
But now burpees. Really.
This all started with me picking up on Bicycling Magazine’s Charlee Atkins 10 essential exercises for cyclists. All in all it’s a pretty good list. I worked my way through the routine, only skipping the burpees. Because, knees.
So the next day I was chatting with Meg who is a personal trainer about another list, the three best exercises for women over 40, which I’d shared on Facebook with the comment, “What do you think the best exercises are? Around here we tend to say the best are the ones you enjoy, because you’ll both do them and add pleasure to your day. “
That list also has burpees and I was kind of surprised.
Meg did not have good things to say about burpees. She didn’t think they should have made either list. Burpees, it turns out, are going out of favour.
They’ve certainly gone out of favour with me since my knee injuries. As with running, there are no burpees in my future. But in my day, I’ve done a lot of burpees, including a full-on, all burpees all the time, summer challenge. It was a lot of hard work and I kind of enjoyed it in that weird way you can enjoy really hard things.
Here’s the case for burpees, from the 3 best exercises for women over 40 piece: “Burpees are one of the best full-body functional exercises you can do. Think about it — what is a burpee, really? It’s just lying down on the ground and getting back up again. I can’t count how many women I’ve trained who could not lie down and get back up when they first began getting serious about fitness, but I can guarantee that they’re all more than capable of a full-out, chest-to-ground burpee now. “
Up until now, that’s what I would have thought too: excellent, all round exercise, good for functional fitness.
Am I wrong? Now burpees are controversial.
“Ben Bruno doesn’t believe in burpees. The Los Angeles-based trainer to celebrities like Kate Upton, Chelsea Handler, and Victoria’s Secret model Barbara Fialho, among others, took to Twitter and Instagram recently to profess his loathing for the exercise that many of us, frankly, also hate.
“There’s no such thing as a bad exercise, just bad application,” Bruno wrote sarcastically, before throwing in a series of asterisks to caveat that burpees are “pretty dumb,” along with kipping pull-ups (a pull-up variation in which you use momentum to get your chin above the bar) and American kettlebell swings (a two-handed kettlebell swing variation where the weight is swung overhead). “Instead, pick literally anything else,” he concluded.”
What’s so bad about burpees? Most people don’t have enough strength to do them properly, do them improperly, and risk serious injury.
Do you love or hate burpees? Where do you stand on the great burpee controversy?