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Better Exercises Than Burpees
Burpees are an effective muscular endurance and cardiovascular conditioning exercise that is popular with boxers, MMA fighters, the military and other hardcore exercisers. By including a squat, push-up and jump, this complex of exercises will work several major muscle groups, get your heart rate up and make your lungs heave. There are, however, other similar whole body exercises that can offer similar, if not greater, benefits. If you really don't like burpees, try one of these alternatives instead.
Sumo Deadlift High Pull
The sumo deadlift high pull is an exercise that works just about every muscle in your body and is a favorite in CrossFit workouts. Though it is commonly performed using a barbell, you could also use a kettlebell, single dumbbell, resistance band or sandbag for variety. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and, with a narrow overhanded grip, squat down and grab your weight. Keep your chest up and your lower back slightly arched. Stand up explosively and use this momentum to help you pull the weight up the front of your body to just under your chin, shrugging your shoulders as you do so. Your elbows should end up pointing above your shoulders. Lower the weight back to the floor and repeat.
Targeting your legs, hips, lower back and shoulders, the kettlebell swing is a worthy alternative to burpees. As it's low impact and the majority of the power comes from a snappy hip extension, swings are well-tolerated by people who suffer knee issues that might keep them from performing burpees. Grab your kettlebell with a double overhanded grip and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward from your hips. Drive your hips forward and use this momentum to swing the weight forward and upward to the height of your head. Keep your arms straight. Swing it back down and repeat. Do not allow your lower back to round as this can lead to injury.
Like burpees, thrusters combine multiple exercises into one challenging, but effective, movement. Performed with a medicine ball, barbell, kettlebells or dumbbells, the thruster involves a squat and an overhead press to work multiple muscle groups. Hold your weight at shoulder height, with your palms facing forward and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back and squat down -- keep your chest up. Stand up explosively and use the momentum generated by your legs to drive the weight up and overhead. Lower the weight back to your shoulders and then descend into another squat. Don't round your lower back -- this can lead to injury.
Hitting a tire with a sledgehammer is more than just an effective total body exercise -- it's also an excellent stress buster and lots of fun. If you really put your all into swinging your hammer, you'll feel virtually every muscle in your body working and your heart and breathing rate will soar. Before you start swinging, make sure you have plenty of space around you.
Stand, a hammer-length away, in front of a tire lying on the ground. Hold the hammer firmly. Swing the hammer up and over your shoulder and then down at the tire. The hammer will naturally rebound. Use the bounce to help you ready the hammer for another swing. Consider wearing work gloves to protect your hands and swing the hammer over both shoulders to ensure you work both sides of your body equally. If you don't have a tire, swing your hammer at an old tree stump or into a sandpit.
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. A lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a contributor to "Ultra-FIT" magazine and has been involved in fitness for more than 22 years. He authored the books "Military Fitness", "Live Long, Live Strong" and "No Gym? No Problem!" and served in the Royal Marines for five years.