Hate Burpees? 7 Exercises That Work Just as Well

Burpees are pretty much the ultimate total-body workout. With one exercise, you burn calories, build upper-body strength, and increase power. But with so many gains, there’ s obviously a catch. To put it bluntly: Burpees are extremely unpleasant. 

So how can you have your cake and eat it too? There are actually a few different moves you can use when you want to skip the burpees but still see the results. (Not to say these moves are necessarily easier, but they will give you a total body workout.) We broke down some of the best full-body exercises you can add to your arsenal of workouts.

1. Walking push-ups

Walking push-ups are a great substitute for burpees

Walking push-ups are a great substitute for burpees. | iStock.com

Push-ups on their own are a great full body exercise. By adding this “walking technique” to push-ups, they also become a great substitute for burpees.

Start in a plank position with your shoulders stacked over your hands, and complete one push-up. Next, while keeping your core engaged, walk your left hand and foot over to your left side. Have your right hand and foot immediately follow to get you back to the stacked plank position, and perform another push-up. Then walk your hands and feet back in the other direction, starting with your right hand and foot. Not sure how many repetitions to do? Start by aiming for 10 repetitions, then work your way up to 15.

2. Speed-skater lunges

Don’t be misguided in thinking skater-style exercises are strictly lower-body workouts. These moves are also great for working your core, and this speed-skater workout is no exception. For these reasons, mindbodygreen taps it as a great substitute to the burpee.

For the beginner’s version of this exercise, start in a speed skater-position with one leg bent at the knee with the upper leg parallel to the ground, and the other leg extended out to the side. Hinge your upper body at the waist and bring your chest as parallel as possible to the floor. (Think of how speed skaters look as they jet down the ice). The objective is to jump and switch the positioning of your legs, engaging your core as you make the swap.

There is also an equally-effective version of this exercise where you modify the lunge by crossing one leg behind the other.

3. Total-body extension

As Workout Finishers explains in their how-to video for this exercise, the total-body extension is a great replacement for the burpee’s equally evil cousin, the box jump. If you want to work up a sweat as if you were doing burpees and box jumps, but also want to save your knees, this is the workout for you.

Start in a demi-squat position with your weight centered through your feet. Engage your core and swing your arms over your head, lifting straight up onto your toes as you do so. Descend back to your starting position in a slow, controlled manner before exploding upward again. Like with pike jumps (which we break down for you later) maintaining speed will help boost the cardiovascular properties of this exercise. Start with 10 to 12, then build off of that.

4. Mountain climbers

As 30 Day Fitness Challenges demonstrates, this exercise has you start in a push-up position. Then, while maintaining the composure of your upper body, run in place as if you are — you guessed it — climbing up a mountain. Feeling extra mighty? Increase the difficulty of the exercise by doing it on an incline, as demonstrated by Get Healthy U.

5. Renegade rows

For this exercise, start in an upright plank position, your feet planted slightly outside your shoulders and your arms, balancing on dumbbells, positioned just a bit inside your shoulders. Engaging your core and keeping a straight back, inhale and lift your right elbow upward and bring the dumbbell up into your armpit. Exhale as you lower your arm and bring the dumbbell back to the starting position. Check out YouTube’s Strength Camp eCoach for a creative how-to on renegade rows that will help ensure you maintain proper form.

6. Pike jumps

Start this exercise in a downward-facing dog position. Using your core to stabilize your movements, move your feet in towards your hands, and then back out again for one rep. Muscles & Fitness has a great video tutorial that helps show proper form. Maintaining speed while you jump back and forth activates the cardio aspect of this exercise and aids in burning calories. Ready to up the ante? Maintaining the same speed, move your jumps from side to side.

7. Murpees

That’s right — the “modified burpee” is a great alternative to its original form. As demonstrated by Angelo Dela Cruz of VitaMoves, this less-explosive version of the burpee relies on endurance and control. The exercise still starts in a plank position, but instead of jumping your feet towards your hands and then jettisoning into the air, you walk your feet into lunge positions at your hands and rise up to a standing position. The key then is to stay controlled as you slowly return to the plank position, then repeat the sequence over.

The change in the movement and speed still offers the strengthening benefits of the burpee, and still gets your heart rate up. Trust that doing murpees in a continuous movement is a deceptively intense workout that may be just as much of a challenge as burpees. 

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