Royal H. Burpee Was a Real Person
I don’t hate anyone. But Royal Huddleston Burpee, I can’t lie, you sometimes make life very difficult for me.
Burpee the person was a physiologist from New York City who, in the 1930s, invented the burpee as part of a fitness test. As anyone who has done burpees in CrossFit like me or in another workout can attest, they’re not very fun, and it’s pretty hard to talk to your friends while you do them. But we do burpees because they’re high-power, explosive movements that get your heart rate soaring – and the more you work on your heart rate, the more fit your body gets.
- To perform a basic burpee, you start standing, kick your legs out behind you so you’re in a plank position while keeping the arms extended and hands on the floor, hop back on to your feet and stand up with a small jump. When you string a series of burpees together or better yet add variations, you can see why they get your pulse skyrocketing.
As much as I sometimes dread them, as a medical provider these are the main reasons why I am actually a fan of burpees:
- They’re an ideal combination of aerobic and strength movements.
- Your body is doing bodyweight movements that are both horizontal as well as vertical, incorporating functional training to mimic challenges you may encounter in everyday life.
- Doing burpees over and over can significantly raise your heart rate and develop strength in many muscles, as well as your cardiovascular endurance.
- Burpees present a challenging workout done in high repetitions or as part of a larger CrossFit workout.
- The original burpee test was meant to be a quick test of agility coordination and strength, and over 80 years later we can still use them for that purpose.
It’s a fun word to say and almost everyone dreads them, but my favorite is when it’s someone’s birthday at CrossFit or someone is late to class. Guess what we all get to do? Burpees!
You can find detailed information on the history of the burpee here.
Aaron Hewitt PA-C is a Physician Assistant with OrthoCarolina’s Sports Medicine Center. He is a former Assistant Athletic Trainer with the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) and is an orthopedic provider for UNC-Charlotte and Myers Park High School. He also is a Physician Assistant Team Lead for Sports Medicine, Spine, Hand & Pediatrics and a Clinical and Surgical Preceptor for Physician Students. In addition to CrossFit, Aaron is dedicated to running, yoga and clean eating.
**NOTE: Image credit: Greatist.com