How to Make Burpees Easier and Harder


Whether you love them or hate them, burpees boost your heart rate and get your body sweaty in short order. The military saw the benefits of burpees early on, using them as a way to measure the fitness level of new military recruits during World War 2, the burpee has withstood the test of time. It’s still common to see people doing burpees in exercise classes today. Great exercises withstand the test of time!  If you’re not familiar with how to do one, here’s a quick rundown:

  • Place a mat on the floor.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart and your arms relaxed at your sides.
  • Lower your body into a squat as you throw your arms in front of you and onto the mat.
  • Let your weight shift to your hands as you jump your feet straight out behind you in a straight line.
  • Shift your weight back on to your hands as you jump your feet back to the starting position and stand up straight

How to Make Burpees Easier

While the burpee might sound easy on paper, it’s not always effortless when you’re a beginner. Some people who haven’t trained very long may have problems doing even one burpee. If so, there are ways to make the exercise easier. Let’s look at how to modify burpees to make them easier.

The simplest way to make a burpee easier is to do the exercise with the aid of a bench. The higher the bench, the easier the exercise will be. To do this, instead of lowering your body and throwing your hands onto a mat, place them onto the bench instead and jump your legs behind you. The only difference is your hands are elevated and this makes the exercise easier.

Another easier variation is called a step-back burpee. Here’s how to do one:

  • Place a mat on the floor.
  • With your feet about hip-width apart, squat down and place your hands on the mat.
  • Step one foot back behind followed by the other until you’re in a plank position.
  • Now, step one foot forward followed by the other foot.
  • Once both feet are back to the starting position, press off with the balls of your feet and rise back up.
  • Keep repeating.

The difference between a standard burpee and a step-back burpee is you step your feet back rather than jump them back. Since it reduces the impact of the exercise, it’s a safer alternative for people who can’t do high-impact exercise due to an injury or osteoporosis.

Before doing burpees of any type, build up core and upper body strength by doing planks and push-ups. These exercises are a good preparation for doing burpees. Also, work on squats too since squatting is part of a burpee.

Start slowly with burpees if you don’t feel comfortable at first. Try one of these easier variations and work up to a full burpee. They’ll still boost your heart rate and work the muscles in your core, upper body, and lower body.

Once you can do 15 quality burpees, it’s time to make the exercise more challenging.

How to Make Burpees Harder

Once you’ve progressed from modified burpees to standard burpees and mastered them, you’re ready for more advanced burpee variations. These variations are guaranteed to raise your heart rate quickly and leave you tired and sweaty.

The most basic way to make a burpee harder is to add a push-up. After throwing your feet behind you, do a push-up before jumping your feet forward and jumping back up. This variation gives your triceps and pectoral muscles more of a workout. It boosts your heart rate and burns more calories too.

Another way is to add a jump to burpees. After completing a standard burpee and standing back up, do a squat jump or tuck jump before launching into your next burpee. This adds a plyometric component to the exercise, so you can build more power, get your heart rate up more, and burn major calories.

Once you’re a pro and need an even greater challenge, combine burpees with box jumps by jumping onto a low platform rather than doing a squat jump or tuck jump. This is a much more advanced variation, so don’t try it until you can whip out 20 burpees with push-ups and squat jumps.

How to Make Burpees More Core Intensive and Burn More Calories

If you’d like to hammer your core a little harder, try burpee jacks by combining burpees with plank jacks. When you’re in a plank position with a standard burpee, rather than jumping your legs forward and back up immediately, add five plank jacks. When in the plank position, jump your feet together and apart five times before jumping your feet forward and finishing off the burpee. This variation will boost your heart rate more, burn more calories, and give your core more of a challenge.

Don’t forget that you can also burn more calories and get more cardiovascular benefits if you do burpees with a faster tempo. Give yourself a speed challenge. Do as many burpees as you can in 30 seconds and try to improve on your number each week. It’s a fun challenge that will boost power, cardiovascular efficiency, and overall fitness quickly.

The Bottom Line

Don’t underestimate the power of burpees to burn body fat, boost cardiovascular health, and build more core strength and overall power, but don’t let them become boring. As with any exercises you do, use progressive overload to keep challenging your body more over time. Increase the speed with which you do burpees or try these more advanced variations. Start slowly though, so that you don’t get injured or discouraged.



  • co.UK. “How To Do A Burpee And The Benefits of Burpees For Fat Loss”
  • com. “Burpee Benefits”
  • Wood KM, Olive B, LaValle K, Thompson H, Greer K, Astorino TA. Dissimilar Physiological and Perceptual Responses Between Sprint Interval Training and High-Intensity Interval Training. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(1):244-250. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001042.


Related Articles By Cathe:

Don’t Hate Burpees: They’re Good for You!

5 Triple-Duty Exercises that Combine Power, Strength, and Cardio

6 Full Body Exercises That Double as Cardio

5 Time Expedient Exercises That Will Power Up Your Fitness Routine

Hi, I'm Cathe

I want to help you get in the best shape of your life and stay healthy with my workout videos, DVDs and Free Weekly Newsletter. Here are several ways you can watch and work out to my exercise videos and purchase my fitness products:

Get Your Free Weekly Cathe Friedrich Newsletter

Get free weekly tips on Fitness, Health, Weight Loss and Nutrition delivered directly to your email inbox. Plus get Special Cathe Product Offers and learn about What’s New at Cathe Dot Com.

Enter your email address below to start receiving my free weekly updates. Don’t worry…I guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared and you can easily unsubscribe whenever you like. Our Privacy Policy