Love the prospect or resist it, calisthenics training has gained traction and credence as a high-intensity form of exercise that burns calories, builds muscles, and has a plethora of additional health benefits. While you may resist adding burpees to your daily exercise routines, it’s time to think again.
How many burpees equal a mile varies depending on your vigor. According to Harvard Medical School, a 155-lb (70-kg) person doing 30 minutes of burpees burns 298 calories compared to them running at 5.2 mph (8.4 kph), which burns 335 calories. However, burpees remain a powerful means to lean body mass.
Read on to discover the advantages of burpees versus running. We also detail how to load calisthenics into your exercise routine for a high-intensity interval exercise that burns fat more effectively than a steady run.
Burpees vs. Running: How Do They Compare?
Running and burpees are two unique types of exercise, yet both have similar effects in improving overall health and stamina. Doing either exercise will contribute to weight loss if you sustain the practice over time—and keeping training firmly in your weekly routine is the defining factor on whether you achieve your goals. But which should you load into your routine, running or exercises like burpees?
Burpees (Calisthenic Exercise)
Burpees are a calisthenic exercise that uses your body’s weight and natural resistance to enhance endurance and build muscle. The rapid contraction and release of muscle groups produce explosive power, improves agility, and quickly raise your heart rate.
When you perform burpees vigorously, they contribute to rapid subcutaneous fat-burning and work your entire body. Other benefits of burpees are a significant increase in aerobic and anaerobic fitness, lower insulin resistance, and improved skeletal muscle fat oxidation. You’ll also observe the benefits as your body changes shape with muscle tone appearing in all the desirable places.
As powerful as burpees are, it does not mean you’re going to enjoy doing them, but you will value the results of working all your major muscle groups with this one exercise.
The positive effects of running for enhancing mental and physical health are well-documented. And it used to be the advice that sustained aerobic exercise periods were the best way to burn fat and improve aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. Long proven to lose weight, running also increases your VO2 max, which means you increase your physiological intake of oxygen.
And if you’re looking to shed excess weight and build cardiovascular health, opt for short, sharp sprints mixed up with slower speeds because it turns out that the more efficient way to drop weight and hone muscle is with high-intensity intervals. However, that’s not to say you should hang up your running shoes, as we’ll see later when we compare calories burned by running and calisthenics.
Calories Burned Through Running vs. Burpees
Harvard Medical School conducted a study on the calories burned by three different weights of a person doing various activities. Here’s how calisthenics compares to running for calorie burn:
|Activity||Calories Burned In 30-Minutes|
|125 lbs (56.7 kg) person||155 lbs (70.3 kg) person||185 lbs (83.9 kg) person|
|Walking 3.5 mph/5.6 kph (17-minute mile)||120||149||178|
|Running 5.2 mph/8.4 kph (11.5-minute mile)||270||335||400|
|Running 6.7 mph/10.8 kph (9-minute mile)||330||409||448|
The Takeaway of Running vs. Burpees
When you’re weighing up running versus burpees, the takeaway is that more calories are burned by intense calisthenics. If your goal is to burn calories, you’ll achieve this with high-intensity intermittent exercise plans more than with a sport like long-distance running. However, will you want to do thirty minutes of burpees every day?
The best advice is to do one day on and one day off with HIIE and running (or preferred activity) on alternate days.
How To Do Burpees
Here’s how to perform burpees:
- Assume the plank position, with core engaged, abdominal muscles holding your spine nice and straight. Your arms are shoulder-width apart, hands flat on the floor.
- Jump your feet towards your hands. You’ll find yourself in a squat position.
- In a smooth, explosive movement, jump upwards.
- Land soft, bending the knees to absorb your weight as you come to land.
- Immediately drop into the squat position, with hands placed shoulder-width apart.
- Jump your feet back behind you, fully extending your body so that you return to the plank position.
- Within thirty seconds, you’re looking to achieve 10-15 repetitions.
- After thirty-seconds, rest for ten seconds, then repeat.
My Burpees Tips
Follow these tips to introduce yourself successfully to burpees, to intensify your workout, and to reduce the chance of injury.
- Getting started. When starting burpees for the first time, take it slow and get it right. As the rhythm and positions become more natural to you, increase your speed. Research tells us ‘a person should have an adequate base of muscle strength and endurance as well as flexibility of the muscles to be exercised,’ in advance of taking up plyometric training (i.e., burpees). So whatever you do, start at a comfortable level and build-up.
- Push yourself. To increase the exercise’s intensity, you can perform a press-up when you’re in the plank position. This will build additional upper body strength and add an extra set of resistance work to your routine.
- Explosive power and reducing injury. Be sure that you jump up from the squat position with maximum explosive power and contrast this with a gentle land where you bend your knees to soften and reduce impact. This way, you can avoid injury.
We mentioned it earlier, and now it’s time to look at high-intensity interval exercise close up.
High-Intensity Interval Exercise: What Is It?
There is an overwhelming message coming through thanks, in part, to studies that reveal high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) is better at reducing body fat than steady cardiovascular exercise. The effects of just a 2-minute sprint burst mean the body draws in more oxygen during and after the workout than it would with 30-minutes of continuous cardiovascular activity, like running.
We’ve highlighted the benefits of high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) programs, but what are they? And are they for you? HIIE is a program of exercises that include elements that include jumping jacks, burpees, squats, lunges, tuck jumps, and just about any physical activity that provides for short bursts of activity and using your body resistance to build strength and stamina.
What does HIIE look like in practice? It is short, sharp bursts of activity broken up by periods of rest. Suppose you’re on your morning run around the neighborhood, you’d run at 5.2 mph (8.4 kph) for periods of ten-twenty seconds, then sprint as fast as you can for a count of, for example, fifty seconds, or as long as you can sustain the pace. Drop to running at 5.2 mph (8.4 kph) for ten-twenty seconds, then pick up a sprinting pace again.
Your High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise Program
The entire purpose of HIIE is that you can achieve more in an intense fifteen-minute workout than you would in, for example, a half-hour run. By mixing up the muscle groups that you work, you demand more of your body, so nothing becomes a habit, and you achieve increased stamina, explosive power, and chisel those muscles for a fine physique.
Try this set of exercises for an intense workout:
1 x 30 seconds of burpees with 10 seconds rest in-between each 30-second interval
1 x 45 seconds of jumping jacks
1 x 30 seconds of sit-ups
1 x 45 seconds of jump rope
1 x 30 seconds of press-ups
Repeat the circuit three times, and be sure to have ten seconds of rest between each burst of exercise.
If you are new to exercise, take it easy, and know your limits.
Building burpees into your exercise routine will get your muscles burning, oxygen racing through your bloodstream, and your heart racing. For optimum effect, use burpees as part of a high-interval intermittent exercise routine loaded with exercises that work your whole body and let you mix up your routine to keep it fresh and stimulating. Remember, consistency is key, so stick to your plan, and you’ll achieve your goals.
- ACE Fitness: Physical Activity Calorie Counter
- The New York Times: What’s the Single Best Exercise?
- Harvard University: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Live Strong: The Calories Burned with Burpees
- US National Library of Health Medicine: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss
- IJCRR: Plyometric Training, A Review