Oh, Baby, It’s Cold Outside…Do Burpees!

As frigid temperatures overcome most of the country, you may be struggling to stay warm; probably looking for a good at-home workout, or even just trying to keep from being bored out of your darn mind while you’re stuck inside listening to the faucet hoping your pipes don’t freeze.  Here’s a great solution to all of your problems…


Yep, that exercise we love to hate; burpees (also known as squat-thrusts) are not only called so because they make you burp when you do them (ew), but they are said to be the evil brainchild of Lt. Thomas Burpee (1757-1839), who “had an innate fondness for martial exercises”, used the exercise for drilling, conditioning, and disciplining troops under his command.  The soldiers also found they were useful in staying warm during the harsh winters in wartime New England.

As the Civil War came to an end, many of the former-soldiers fell into a life of crime.  Thus, the birth of using burpees to combat boredom as well as to stay in shape for prison yard fights (the sight of someone doing a burpee is enough to scare away any would-be attacker).  The exercise gained popularity as prisoners were transferred to different jails and prisons throughout the country.1

Today, we see burpees in many bootcamp-style fitness classes—always accompanied by a huge sigh and a few moments of hesitation before the instructor catches on to our stalling techniques.  As much as we hate them, they remain one of the best exercises for strength and endurance, and can be done pretty much anywhere using nothing but, well, YOU.

Are you one of the lucky few who doesn’t know what a burpee is?  Below is a quick description.  And, since you are stuck inside (because it’s cold and everything) and everything is closed for business, you now have the time to also look up videos on how to execute this fabulous calorie burner!

  • Begin in a standing position (the easiest part)
  • Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)
  • Kick your feet back, while keeping your arms extended. (count 2)
  • Immediately return your feet to the squat position. (count 3)
  • Stand up from the squat position (count 4) 2
  • Sigh from relief and have a celebratory parade in your head

You are now a Burpee Champion!!

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1. Lord, M. & Lord, E.  A History of the Town of New London, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, 1930.
2.  The Army’s Daily Dozen. Can We Make Our Soldiers Tough Enough; Popular Science, 1944.