Tag Archives: exercise

My Favorite Exercise: The Burpee

My favorite exercise happens to be the burpee. Some begin to quiver at the mere uttering of the word burpee. If you’ve ever done one, you know the challenge they pose. If you haven’t done one but have watched someone else do a burpee, you probably got winded just watching them and vowed never to put yourself through that terrible misery. But fear not, today I am going to tell you why this exercise is my personal favorite and why you should add it to your repertoire at the gym. Because there are so many variations of a burpee, surely there is one for everyone, of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels. 

So, what exactly is a burpee? The burpee is a total body exercise. No muscle goes untouched with this one and that’s the beauty of it. It’s not only an effective cardio exercise that will get your heart rate up after only one, but it also aims to tighten and tone all the right areas of one’s body…and who doesn’t want that?! 

Why do I love the burpee so much? Burpees are one of my go-to exercises solely because you get so much bang for your buck. I am not a runner; in fact, I practically abhor it. Why you ask? Because running is boring to me and it takes a lot of energy, time, and is rough on my precious joints…oh and not to mention the excruciating calf cramps I get- but that’s a whole other topic for another day. In the amount of time it takes to run 3 miles, I could have completed my burpees, burned just as many if not more calories, left the gym, went into the grocery store, and drove home. Well, maybe not quite all of that but you get my drift. Burpees are one of the highest calorie burning exercises out there. Why? Because you are literally using your entire body- moving that body up and down, in and out. These things are fast and furious!

Let’s learn some history of the burpee and find out where it came from. 

The burpee was first developed in the 1930’s by Royal H. Burpee. Royal H. Burpee was an applied physiologist from Columbia University and was the first one to coin the burpee test. He created this exercise as part of his PhD thesis “as a quick and simple way to assess fitness.” Could you imagine if our only fitness test to this day to assess our fitness was a burpee test? Yikes. And it’s to no surprise, the exercise then became popular in the United States Armed Services. The burpee test was used to test recruits for World War II to quickly and effectively assess for agility, coordination, and strength. 

 So, the burpee not only burns big calories, but it also offers great benefits as a cardio exercise and works all of your major muscles. What’s not to love? 

Another thing I love about burpees is their portability. And by portability, I mean you can do them anywhere your body goes because you don’t need a single piece of equipment. Now that’s great! So, next time you’re traveling for work or need to squeeze in a quick and effective workout at home before the kids get home from school or wake up from their nap, whip out a few burpees. I promise you’ll be sweating in no time and feel like such a star when you’re finished. Their empowering and actually quite fun, at least for this fitness guru. I hope you find them just as empowering and effective! 

 

Let’s Break Down the Burpee

 

The burpee at its core combines a squat, a push-up and a jump. Here’s how to do it in 4 steps. 

 

Step 1: Stand with your feet hip width apart. Squat down and place your hands, palms down, on the floor in front of you directly under your shoulders, being sure to keep your knees over your ankles (like a proper squat) and your chest lifted. 

 

Step 2: Jump both feet back and extend your arms so that your body is in a high plank position- long and symmetrical. Be sure to create a straight line with your back and keep your hips slightly lifted.

 

Step 3: Pull your legs back in so you are in a crouching squat position with your palms on the floor in front of you. 

 

Step 4: Stand and jump straight up in the air with your arms extended upwards, landing softly on the balls of your feet with your hips shifted back and knees in line with your ankles, like a proper squat. 

** Remember to engage your core the entire time! This is also a great core exercise! ** 

This is the basics of a burpee. If you want an added challenge, add a push-up in between step 2 and 3. A burpee with the pushup is the form the Military most commonly uses. 

Like I said before, there are many variations of a burpee. If you have problems with your joints and do not like to jump, simply step your feet back and in and skip the jump up in the air in step 4. You can also simply step your feet back and in if you are overweight and need something with less of an impact and a little easier to begin with. You can always work up to jumping the feet back and adding the jump up at the end. 

Below I will share a few variations of the burpee. Some of the variations include removing or shifting an arm or a leg (requiring more core stabilization) or working in a different direction or adding a more explosive move to increase strength and power in the body. 

 

  1. Mountain Climber Burpee: Perform the standard burpee steps. When you get to the plank position to do the push-up, perform a mountain climber instead of the push-up. To do a mountain climber, alternate pulling one leg into your chest, alternating each side twice. Be sure to keep your hips from sagging and keep a flat back, core engaged. Return to the plank position before finishing the remaining steps of the burpee. 

 

  1. Jump Variations: You can also add variety to the jump at the end of the burpee. Varying the jump causes the lower body to do more work by controlling the hips, knees, and ankles. Adding jump variations helps your body to build strength, power, and stability in different planes of motion. Some different jump variations include a tuck jump, broad jump, and a single leg jump. 

For the tuck jump burpee, complete the burpee as usual and at the end instead of simply jumping straight up, jump straight up and tuck your knees in towards your chest. 

For the broad jump, instead of jumping straight up, jump out trying to cover as much distance in front of you as possible. 

The single leg burpee adds great challenge because it requires a lot of core stabilization and balance. You can either do the push-up and the final jump on a single leg or just the final jump on a single leg. Be sure to draw that core in to help you stay balanced and jump as high as you can on that single foot, landing softly. 

So, there you have it. I hope you feel inspired to add a few burpees to your next workout. Start with one and work your way up. Once you’ve mastered the regular burpee, try some of these variations. Take it slow and listen to what your body says. Even if you can’t do the jumps and you’re slowly stepping your feet back one at a time and coming up slowly, you are still burning a lot of calories by moving your entire body up and down and you are working on core stabilization, balance, and coordination.

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Personal Trainer

Get Your Move On

Get your move on with exercise. You may love it or hate it but you likely know it’s good for your physical and mental health. Perhaps you, like many of us, struggle to find the time to exercise each day or even a few days a week. I’m here to tell you that it IS possible to find the time and you don’t need as much time as you probably think you do.  So, let’s get your move on!

There are so many people who think if you cannot commit a solid 45 minutes to an hour for exercise, then why do it at all?! Don’t buy into that all or nothing mentality. You can get a super EFFECTIVE workout while also being EFFICIENT with your time! I am talking 20-30 minutes. That’s it! 

In fact, research has shown that you no longer need to work-out in longer blocks (at least 10 minutes) for it to be effective and count towards your weekly goal of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. Mini exercise sessions such as a quick jog through the parking lot, doing squats throughout the day, or taking the stairs- it all adds up! Research also supports that small bouts of exercise throughout the day can provide many of the same benefits as a longer, continuous workout. These benefits include improvements in your cardiovascular health, weight loss, and even helping to promote long term adherence and consistency in an exercise program. Short and steady wins the race. It’s a great place to start especially if you are short on time or new to exercise. 

According to an article at Harvard Health, only 19% of women get the recommended amount of exercise each week here in America. So, how do we improve this? How can you improve this in your life? My answer- get your move on. Simply MOVE MORE! Take the stairs, park further at the grocery store, do core exercises while watching TV. Make the absolute best use of your time and I think you’ll be surprised how much movement you can actually get in a day. 

Here are 10 quick ways to get that burst of energy and movement into your day!

 

  1. Clean…vacuuming and mopping especially. 
  2. Walk around the work floor every hour.
  3. Do core exercises while watching TV.
  4. Play outside with your kiddos- play tag, frisbee, or kick a soccer ball
  5. Run up the stairs a few times.
  6. Do squats or lunges while cooking dinner.
  7. Start your day with 10 push-ups right when you get out of bed…it’ll help wake you up too!
  8. Park further away at the grocery store or Target.
  9. Get a standing desk and do squats and calf raises while you respond to emails.
  10. Go for a quick walk around the block post dinner with the family- quality time and movement time! Double win.
~Meghan 
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Personal Trainer

The Life Of Normal

I am normal. What I consider to be normal anyway. I have brown hair and blue eyes. My skin is nothing spectacular. My body is what I consider normal. I am 5’7” and have the body of a mom of 3. I am a size 14. I have the dreaded C-section shelf (I had 3). I have saggy boobs but they still look pretty decent. I am a B/C cup. I have a kind of saggy butt. My thighs shake when I walk and I have cellulite. My arms aren’t bad but they jiggle. My stomach is…well…my stomach. I have a muffin top. I wear minimal makeup…don’t get my toes done…or my nails…or tan in a tanning bed. Normal.

I am also divorced, a mom of 3 and 36 years old. Yeah…there is all that!

So I would say I am pretty normal. I am working on feeling better about my normal self though. I will never be perfect. I will never be skinny. I will never have the perfect stomach and that is okay…most of the time.

I can however have a body that I am more comfortable it. That doesn’t mean starving myself or running until I pass out. It doesn’t even mean joining a gym.

Let me tell you what I have been doing for the past 2 months. I have slowly been changing the way I eat. I do mean slowly. I have been watching my calories…not stressing but really keeping an eye on them. I have been trying to eat healthy. You would be surprised how many calories you can consume when you don’t think about it. Don’t get me wrong…I still eat the damn cake!

I have also started adding in exercise. I hate it. I have 3 kids so where is the time…where is the privacy…and don’t get me started on interruptions. I use workouts on YouTube. These workouts are 4 – 10 minutes. You don’t have to about die to feel like you have done a work out. You don’t have to have hours to incorporate them in your day. Just minutes. Let me tell you…I feel so much better when I do them. I am not as consistent with them as I would like to be but baby steps, you know!

Society tells us that we have to take that major jump…keto…30 day challenges…but I am telling you we don’t have to add this stress to our lives. Believe me I have enough to deal with being a working, single mom of 3 kids! I am sure you do too! So I guess the point is…baby steps. A little effort will go a long way and don’t be afraid to be normal while you are taking those steps!


~Ann~

Stop Counting Calories…

Stop Counting Calories…PLEASE!

Math?

To plan dinner?

Can’t there be a better way?

 

Yep… Just take a look at your hand. Use your fist, palm, cupped hand, and thumb to practice calorie control, while avoiding the hassle of counting calories.

 

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times:  The best, maybe even the only, way to lose weight is to count calories.

 

After all, it’s a pretty simple equation: Calories in vs. calories out. Eat more calories than you burn, and you gain weight. Eat fewer calories than you burn and you lose weight.

 

Except counting calories isn’t that simple.

The problems with counting calories

 

First of all, on the “calories in” side, you do need to figure out how many calories are in the foods you want to eat.  And that takes handbooks, websites, databases and math. Just to plan your lunch, algebra  Ugh…

Next, you have to assume that the handbooks, websites, and databases’ calorie estimates are correct.  They’re often not.  In fact, research has shown they can be off by about 25% because of incorrect labeling, laboratory measurement error, and food quality.

 

Then, of course, there’s the “calories out” side.  Estimating your calorie expenditure each day comes with another 25% measurement error because of the equipment you’re using, laboratory measurement errors, and individual differences.

A possible 25% error on the “calories in” side, and another 25% error on the “calories out” side.

Is it even worth___:

  • pulling out measuring cups to a chorus of boos from family members;
  • dusting off the food scale while trying to ignore the taunts of friends;
  • wheeling in the abacus from the den to keep up the calorie tally;
  • subscribing to apps and web services to track these less-than-accurate numbers?

 

Sure, we should have an idea of how much food we’re eating each day, so we can adjust based on our goals. But counting calories itself is a drag!  No wonder so many people give up and go back to eating the way they were before.

The calorie counting antidote

Here’s the good news: counting calories is rarely necessary.

No more carrying around weigh-scales and measuring cups.  No calculators, algebra, or smart phones.

*All you need is the ability to count to two. And your own hand(s).

Here how it works:

  • Your palm determines your protein portions.
  • Your fist determines your veggie portions.
  • Your cupped hand determines your carb portions.
  • Your thumb determines your fat portions.

 

To determine your protein intake:

For protein-dense foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, or beans, use a palm sized serving.

*For men let’s recommend two palm-sized portions with each meal.

*For women let’s recommend one palm-sized portion with each meal.

Note: a palm-sized portion is the same thickness and diameter as your palm.

 

To determine your vegetable intake:

For veggies like broccoli, spinach, salad, carrots, etc. use a fist-sized serving.

Men let’s recommend 2 fist-sized portions of vegetables with each meal.

Women let’s recommend 1 fist-sized portion of vegetables with each meal.

Again, a fist-sized portion is the same thickness and diameter as your fist.

 

To determine your carbohydrate intake:

For carbohydrate-dense foods, grains, starches, or fruits, use a cupped hand to determine your serving size.

Men let’s recommend 2 cupped-hand sized portions of carbohydrates with most meals.

Women let’s recommend 1 cupped-hand sized portion of carbohydrates with most meals.

 

 

 

To determine your fat intake:

For fat-dense foods, such as; oils, butters, nut butters, nuts/seeds, use your entire thumb to determine your serving size.

Men let’s recommend 2 thumb-sized portions of fats with most meals.

Women let’s recommend 1 thumb-sized portion of fats with most meals.

 

A note on body size:

Of course, if you’re a bigger person, you probably have a bigger hand. And if you’re a smaller person… you get the idea.  Your own hand is a personalized (and portable) measuring device for your food intake. Now once you get the hang of this you won’t look so weird at your favorite restaurant using hand type signals, just kidding!

 

It’s true, some people do have larger or smaller hands for their body size.  Still, our hand size correlates pretty closely with general body size, including muscle, bone, the whole 9 yards.

Meal planning flexibility

 

Based on the guidelines above, which assume you’ll be eating about 3 – 4 times a day, you now have a simple and flexible guide for meal planning.

 

For men:

  • 2 palms of protein dense foods with each meal;
  • 2 fists of vegetables with each meal;
  • 2 cupped hands of carb dense foods with most meals;
  • 2 entire thumbs of fat dense foods with most meals.

 

For women:

  • 1 palm of protein dense foods with each meal;
  • 1 fist of vegetables with each meal;
  • 1 cupped hand of carb dense foods with most meals;
  • 1 entire thumb of fat dense foods with most meals.

 

Of course, just like any other form of nutrition planning, including calorie counting, this serves as a starting point.

 

You can’t know exactly how your body will respond in advance.  So stay flexible and adjust your portions based on your hunger, fullness, and other important goals.

 

For example: if you’re trying to gain weight, and you’re having trouble gaining, you might add another cupped palm of carbohydrates or another thumb of fats.

 

If you’re trying to lose weight but seem to have stalled out, you might eliminate a cupped palm of carbohydrates or a thumb of fats at particular meals.

 

Remember: This is JUST a starting point. Adjust your portions at any time using outcome-based decision making, ask yourself;  “How’s that working for me?”

 

Carter