Even if you don’t consider yourself an avid workout enthusiast, you’ve likely heard of burpees. Burpees are a calisthenics exercise, a type of exercise that uses your body weight.

With calisthenics exercises, you can improve not only strength and endurance, but also coordination and flexibility.

When working out, you may wonder how effective an exercise is based on how many calories it burns. The number of calories burned during exercise varies with weight, intensity, and other factors.

According to Baton Rouge General, you can burn roughly 160 calories doing 17 minutes of burpees.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how many calories burpees burn, how to do them, and other benefits of doing burpees.

As mentioned above, you burn around 160 calories for every 17 minutes that you do burpees. Let’s break this number down to something more practical:

By the numbers

  • Roughly 9.4 calories are burned for every minute of burpees performed.
  • It takes most people around three seconds to do a single burpee.
  • Three seconds per burpee equals 20 burpees per minute, depending on speed and frequency.

After doing some simple math, we can see that it takes roughly 20 burpees to burn around 10 calories. However, weight can affect the number of calories burned during exercise as well.

According to Harvard Medical School, when performing 30 minutes of vigorous calisthenics:

Weight and calories

  • A 155-pound person will burn about 1.25 times more calories than a 125-pound person.
  • A 185-pound person will burn about 1.5 times more calories than a 125-pound person.

Given this information, the average person can burn anywhere from 10 to 15 calories for every 20 burpees.

Below is a chart that may help you determine how many calories you will burn while performing burpees, depending on your weight.

WeightNumber of burpeesCalories
125-pound person 20 10
155-pound person 20 12.5
185-pound person 20 15

Burpees are considered an advanced calisthenics move, so it’s important to take your time and perform them with proper form to avoid injury.

If you’re performing a single burpee every three seconds, you can expect to perform roughly 20 burpees per minute. If you perform your burpees more slowly, you might do 10 to 15 burpees per minute instead.

Also, different variations of burpees may change the amount of time it takes you to do a single burpee.

The easiest way to think of a burpee is that it’s a full plank followed by a squat jump. Here is a great visual tutorial for how to do a burpee:

Here are some step-by-step instructions:

  1. Stand facing forward. Your feet should be hip-width apart and your arms should be at your sides.
  2. Lower yourself down into a squat by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Focus your weight into your heels, rather than onto the balls of your feet.
  3. Lean forward and place your palms flat on the floor in front of you. The position of your palms should be narrower than your feet.
  4. Jump your feet back, stretching your legs and landing on the balls of your feet. Think of this transition as jumping into a full plank. During this position, engage the abs for support and be sure not to raise or sag your back.
  5. Jump your feet forward again until they are positioned next to your hands.
  6. Reach up with your arms over your head and jump up, then reach back down to cycle through the entire move again.

Although the directions above are for a standard burpee, other popular burpee variations include:

  • adding a pushup while in the plank position
  • adding a plank jack while in the plank position
  • adding a tuck jump while in the standing position

No matter which type of burpee variation you choose to do, learning proper form is the most important thing.

Burpees are a full-body calisthenics workout that focus on building muscle strength. They can help to improve strength and endurance as part of a regular workout routine and may also have other benefits too.

In a 2014 community-based study, researchers found that bodyweight exercises, such as burpees, were able to significantly reduce blood pressure in healthy adult women.

Not only are burpees a great strength-building exercise, they can also be performed as part of a high intensity interval training (HIIT) regimen. HIIT focuses on bursts of intense exercise alternated with periods of recovery.

The benefits of HIIT have been extensively studied for a variety of conditions, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart health. In one study, researchers found that HIIT could potentially have a positive impact on mitochondrial function and fiber type in muscle cells.

There are many reasons why someone may not be able to safely or effectively perform a burpee, but not to worry — there are plenty of similar calisthenics exercises that you can do instead.

Check out some of these burpee alternatives for an equally effective workout:

Jumping jacks

Jumping jacks are another full-body calisthenics exercise that can be performed as a HIIT workout. Unlike burpees, jumping jacks do not place as much bodyweight pressure on the shoulders.

Jump squats

Jump squats allow you to perform the last portion of a burpee without having to perform the plank. This exercise will place similar pressure on the knees as burpees do, but again, not as much pressure on the shoulders.

Pushups

Pushups are a great beginner’s full-body calisthenics move that place minimal strain on the joints. The shoulders and abs remain engaged and depending on the pushup variation, so do the legs and glutes.

Plank jacks

Plank jacks are a great alternative to burpees when you’re unable to transition between plank and standing. Like burpees, they use the plank position but do not return to standing, meaning less strain on the knees.

Plank jacks also make a great HIIT workout, just like burpees.

If you’re still interested in performing a burpee but cannot perform it in its entirety, the alternative might be to modify it. To perform a modified burpee, try these adjustments:

  • Perform each move one at a time.
  • Step into and out of plank rather than jump.
  • Stand to finish rather than jump to finish.

Burpees are a great calisthenics exercise that burn anywhere from 10 to 15 calories per minute. If you’ve never performed a burpee before, it’s important to learn proper form to avoid injury.

If you’re looking to round out your exercise program with more calisthenics moves like burpees, an exercise professional can help. Visit the American College of Sports Medicine’s ProFinder to find an exercise professional near you.