Fitness

10 Exercises That Are A Great Alternative to Burpees

The burpee is a fantastic exercise that burns calories like crazy while working your entire body and getting you more agile and explosive. It’s an exercise, though, that a lot of people love to hate.  Maybe it’s because many of us were forced to do burpees at school. Or it could be that they’re just plain hard work.

If burpees aren’t your thing, here are 10 alternatives that are almost as good.

1. Jumping Jacks

Muscles worked

Quadriceps, hamstrings, internal obliques, external obliques, rectus abdominis, spinal erectors

Equipment used

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides.
  2. From this starting position, jump your feet apart and simultaneously bring your arms up overhead to clap above your head.
  3. Reverse to return to the start position.
  4. Perform this exercise with a fast cadence, doing 50 reps.

Why is it a great alternative?

Jumping jacks are an explosive plyometric exercise that will work your heart and lungs as it burns through the calories. 

2. Mountain Climbers

Muscles worked

Internal obliques, external obliques, rectus abdominis, spinal erectors

Equipment used

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Get down on on all four in the basic push up position, with your palms and toes being the points of contact.
  2. From this starting position, draw your right knee up toward the corresponding elbow nd then immediately kick it back to full extension.
  3. Repeat with the left knee.
  4. Continue in a fast back and forth action to complete 15 reps on both legs.

Why is it a great alternative?

Mountain climbers are a great move for the entire core area. They also act plyometrically to build explosive hip movement while also burning calories.

3. Broad Jump

Muscles worked

Quads, glutes, hamstrings, abdomen muscles

Equipment used

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Start in a standing position with feet shoulder width apart and arms at your sides.
  2. Drop your hips back as you drive your arms back to load your body for the jump.
  3. Leap forward as you push your arms through and up into the air.
  4. Land with both feet together.
  5. Turn and jump back the other way.
  6. Perform 5 jumps in each direction.
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Why is it a great alternative?

Broad jumping is an explosive jump plyometric exercise that will increase your lower body power, agility, and jump ability.

4. Vertical Jump

Muscles worked

Quads, glutes, hamstrings, core muscles

Equipment used

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms at your sides.
  2. Drop your hips back as you drive your arms back to load your body for the jump.
  3. Explode directly up into the air, lifting your hands as high into the air as possible.
  4. Land with both at the same time on your toes.
  5. Perform 10 vertical jumps with no rest between repetitions.

Why is it a great alternative?

The vertical jump will improve your explosive power while increasing your quad, glute, hamstring, and calf strength. It will also get you closer to dunking a basketball.

5. Jump Rope

via Gfycat

Muscles worked

Calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, forearms

Equipment used

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand with a jump rope in your hands. Step over the rope so that it is behind your body.
  2. Rotate your wrists to bring the rope over your head. 
  3. As the rope comes down to your feet, hop over it.
  4. Continue jumping in a fluid, continuous manner.
  5. Mke it your goal to jump rope for 60 seconds.

Why is it a great alternative?

Jumping rope is one of the best calorie burners per minute of exercise time that exists. It is also an excellent exercise for working your calves and improving your explosive speed and agility. 

6. Medicine Ball Slams

Muscles worked

Internal obliques, external obliques, rectus abdominis, spinal erectors

Equipment used

Medicine ball

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a medicine ball held in your hands at arm’s length in front of your body.
  2. Lift the medicine ball overhead as your drip your hips to load for the slam.
  3. Slam the medicine ball down to the ground.
  4. Perform 15 repetitions with no rest between reps.
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Why is it a great alternative?

The medicine ball slam is an awesome explosive move that strengthens your core, lats, quads, and shoulders. This is also a taxing cardiovascular exercise that will improve the efficiency of your heart and lungs. 

7. Air Squat

Muscles worked

Quads, glutes, hamstrings, core muscles

Equipment used

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your feet slightly pointed outward and your hands clasped in front of your chest.
  2. Hinge at the hips to to descend down into a parallel squat.
  3. Drive through your heels to return to the start position, maintaining a neutral spine position.

Why is it a great alternative?

The air squat is a direct stimulator of every muscle in your lower body. Perform high, fasts reps and it will also challenge your cardiovascular system and burn a lot of calories.

8. Plank Jacks

Muscles worked

Core muscles, quads, glutes

Equipment used

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Get down on all fours in a basic plank position. The points of contact should be your forearms and your toes and your feet shoulder be together.
  2. Kick your feet apart as wide as possible.
  3. Kick your feet back in together.
  4. Repeat this action in smooth, continuous manner.
  5. Perform 15 repetitions.

Why is it a great alternative?

Plank Jacks provide you with a means to maximally engage your core while including an explosive plyo move to churn through the calories.

9. Jump Squats

via Gfycat

Muscles worked

Quads, glutes, hamstrings, core muscles

Equipment used

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, toes slightly pointed outward and arms by your sides.
  2. Hinge at the hips to drop down into a parallel squat position.
  3. Explode out of the body position to jump directly into the air.
  4. Land on your toes.

Why is it a great alternative?

Jump Squats are a combination of the standard squat with a plyometric jump. This provides you with the best of both worlds – muscle strength development and explosive power development. This exercise will also get you closer to dunking a basketball!

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10. Box Jumps

Muscles worked

Quads, glutes, hamstrings, core muscles

Equipment used

16 / 24-inch box

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand in front of a box with your arms by your sides.
  2. Drop your hips and draw your arms back to load your body for the jump.
  3. Leap up to jump both feet onto the top of the box landing with both feet together.
  4. Reverse the action to jump back to the floor.
  5. Perform 10 reps in a fast cadence.

Why is it a great alternative?

Box jumps are a great explosive exercise that works all of the lower body muscles as it increases your calorie burn and improves the efficiency of your heart and lungs.

Final Thoughts

The standard burpee is the best bodyweight-only plyometric / muscle-building exercise that exists. But it can get pretty boring. You now have access to 10 great burpee alternatives that are almost as good. Construct workouts by putting together 3 or 4 alternative movement options into plyometric circuits and doing them one after the other with no rest between. Keep your reps quite high (15 to 25) and work up to performing 5 rounds of your alternative to burpees circuit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are burpees so hard?

The regular burpee is a difficult exercise to do because they combine a number of different full-body elements; first, you drop to the floor, then you kick your legs back, then you do a push-up, then you explode into the air. That takes a whole lot of energy. It works your muscles while it burns a lot of calories so that you’re puffing after just a few reps.

Will burpees get rid of belly fat?

No, burpees will not, by themselves, get rid of body fat. You cannot spot reduce body fat, so fat will come off all over your body if you burn it off through exercises like burpees calories. Combine your burpee workouts with a reduced-calorie diet in order to lose body fat.

Are burpees bad?

No, real burpees are not bad. Just be sure to land on your toes when you come down from the upward jump at the end of the exercise.

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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