Do you voluntarily throw down some burpees during your lunch hour workout or in your living room when you’re binging on Netflix?
Yeah … neither do we. They’re the worst!
If you hadn’t heard, burpees are now officially recognized as the most dreaded exercise on the planet. Let’s stop hating on them for one second, though. There are plenty of other painful exercises out there that hurt so much in the moment you’d rather pass.
Unfortunately — you know where we’re going with this — moves like planks, wall sits, and yes, your favorite burpees, are the ones with the most benefits. Well, shoot.
So, before you skip these dreaded exercises, read on to understand why they’re so beneficial for you. You might just want to add them back in to your workout rotation.
1. Side planks
Who’s been here before? Five seconds into a side plank and you’re thinking, “No problem, I got this!” — 30 seconds into a side plank and you’re on the floor wondering what just happened?
You’re not alone. These moves are deceivingly simple, but they require a large amount of core strength and stability to be done correctly.
Although they mainly work the entirety of your abdominal muscles, lower back, quads, deltoids, and traps, side planks force you to engage your entire body to maintain form. If you find your hips sagging, it’s a sign you’ll need to strengthen them — one more reason not to skip this move. Start with 15 seconds on each side and work your way up.
2. Frog jumps
Any exercise with the word ‘jump’ in it is bound to be hard, and frog jumps may take the cake. Also known as traveling squat jumps, this explosive plyometric movement requires maximal effort for each rep. By jumping as high and as far as you can, you’ll be breathing heavy and your legs will be on fire even after 10 reps.
Even though they’re hard, they’re so worth it. They mainly work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and your core while bolstering strength. A frog jump can also easily become a cardiovascular workout as part of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routine.
Probably the most universally hated exercise, burpees are actually one of the best total-body moves you can incorporate into your workout. They improve both cardiovascular and muscular endurance, as well as strength. They’re challenging, but can even be modified so beginners can reap the same benefits as veteran exercisers.
When we say a burpee is a total-body move, we mean it. It works the glutes, quads, calves, abs, deltoids, triceps, and pectorals. Oh, plus your heart. Convinced yet?
4. Mountain climbers
Not quite as brutal as a burpee, but difficult nonetheless, mountain climbers will get your heart rate up and your whole body firing in no time.
This move has the benefits of a plank plus the explosiveness of a plyometric exercise. Working the deltoids, biceps, triceps, pectorals, obliques, abs, quads, hamstrings, and hip abductors, they’re great as a warmup or as part of a HIIT routine.
The archnemesis of women everywhere, pullups are just plain tough! They require a lot of upper body strength — namely a really strong back — as well as a killer core. But just because they’re hard doesn’t mean you should skip them.
In fact, pullups are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do in terms of getting bang for your buck. By hopping on an assisted pullup machine, you’ll still reap all of the benefits in your back, your arms, and your core, so long as you choose an appropriately challenging weight. Then, before you know it, you’ll be banging out unassisted reps in no time!
6. Wall sits
Nothing quite burns your legs and butt like a good wall sit. Although you’ll want to stand up, face contorted from pain, try to push a little longer because this exercise will do you well.
Mainly working the quads, glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves, wall sits take the pressure off your back and put it all on your bottom half — which is one of the reasons why it’s painful (and helpful). This static, or isometric, exercise builds strength in a different way than say a frog jump, but it can be just as worth it for your routine.
The exercises that are the most uncomfortable are usually the ones that provide the most benefit, pushing you past your comfort zone. So, before you skip your burpees or your pullups, repeat to yourself: No pain, no gain!
Nicole Bowling is a Boston-based writer, ACE-certified personal trainer and health enthusiast who works to help women live stronger, healthier, happier lives. Her philosophy is to embrace your curves and create your fit — whatever that may be! She was featured in Oxygen magazine's "Future of Fitness" in the June 2016 issue.