Burpees are renowned as the universal love-hate exercise. They provide an effective full-body conditioning workout and, if done correctly, they'll deliver results.
They also suck.
Anyone who's in the midst of a burpee workout knows that flushed, breathless feeling when you think there's no way you can keep going. And you also know the feeling of absolute exhilaration when somehow, some way you were able to finish.
But too often, somehow, some way becomes "by any means necessary" -- including lazy, awful movement patterns.
Movement faults in the burpee
The problem I have with burpees is not with the exercise itself, but rather with those doing it. There are two typical movement faults I see. Those who've trained with me for a while know the first one:
- Landing with your feet too close together when you come up from the floor. This puts you up on your toes with your knees in a compromised position. The long-term solution to this fault is to work on expanding your hamstring range-of-motion, hip function and core stability (with one of our go-to corrective exercises, Active Leg Lowering.) In the meantime, try landing with your feet wider, so you can land flat-footed with your knees in a safe position -- allowing you to absorb and generate force more efficiently. And ...
- Finishing the burpee with a jump that reinforces sloppy, vulnerable shoulder position.
Whenever your arms are extended overhead, your shoulders should be in a stable, externally rotated position: armpits forward, elbows locked out, shoulder girdles anchored down. This is true when you're doing a barbell movement, finishing an overhead kettlebell swing ... and yes, when you finish a burpee repetition.
Fix your shoulders, fix your burpee
Friends don't let friends raise their arms overhead with armpits down and elbows bent and angled outward. Reinforcing this unstable position with no weight overhead will only train your shoulders to misbehave when loading is involved.
If this is you -- or if you think this might be you -- check out this post and video from my friend Kelly Starrett on how to spot it and how to fix it. Functional movement doesn't only apply to certain movements; it's something we should strive for and practice all the time.
Would you like to learn more about how we incorporate the Functional Movement Screen and FMS corrective exercises into our program? Let us know how we can help.