Burpees +1 = Your New Exercise Plan

“So, I just do one burpee today?”

“Yup, then two tomorrow. Three the next day, and so on. Don’t quit till you get to 100”

“Until I get to 100?”


“That doesn’t seem so bad.”

“Easy now, this is day one!”

Moving a little more each day

You’ve started the new year off well, accepting the 30-Day Paleo Challenge here at Paleo Plan, and maybe even made it into the gym consistently the past three weeks. Well done! For those of you who haven’t made it into your favorite place of sweat yet, and even for those who have, I have something for you. It’s called Burpees +1. Some call it 100 Days of Burpees. Either way, you’re about to do a lot of burpees. And by the end of our little experiment, you’re going to have a healthy respect for the awesome-ness this bodyweight movement can offer to both your strength and conditioning.

Why Burpees?

thank you to CrossFit Engage for the sweet pic!

Burpees are one of the best overall bodyweight conditioning tools available anytime, anywhere. Got a body? You got burpees. I don’t think any other bodyweight movement gets your heart rate cranked quite as fast or as hard as the good old standby burpee. Rumor has it that a Lieutenant (Burpee of course) used this movement to condition his troops during the Civil War, where it may have gotten its name. In places where you have a lot of time, but not a lot of space (read: prison) there are stories of guys doing 1000 of them a day to keep themselves in top fighting condition. I just know they suck, and I have yet to find someone who disagrees.

What’s so awesome about the burpee, besides its amazing power to crumble you? Well for starters it can be done just about anywhere. All you need is enough space to do a push up, and enough room for your hands to clap over your head. You need absolutely no gear. No running shoes, no wrist wraps, no nothing. All you need is the floor or the ground, and I understand that both of these things are quite plentiful throughout the terrestrial sphere. Best of all, you get to battle that weird voice in your head that wants you to quit (more about this strange voice in a later post).

The Assignment/Challenge

Do one burpee today. Do two tomorrow, and keep adding one each day until you get all the way to 100 burpees on the 100th day. So simple. Sooo effective.

It’s really that simple. I know, I know, you’re already training for a marathon. Consider this sprint work. You’re already working out pretty hard – consider this a finisher. You’re already CrossFitting. Awesome! You now have a cash out each day. Get them done!

How to perform a burpee

-Feet under your hips standing straight up.
-Bend down and place your hands 12-24 inches in front of your feet.
-Kick back your feet simultaneously all the way back to a push-up position.
-Do a push up.
-Jump your feet back to where they began (back to in front of your hands).
-Stand & jump while clapping overhead.
-The clap is the count.
(sweet video at the end of this post)

The fine print

If you miss a day, you must do the day you missed, as well as the current day’s number; not a big deal if you miss day 5 (you’d do 11 on day 6 – the 6 for the current day, plus the 5 you missed), but really crappy if you miss day 80 (you’d do 161, as in 81 for the current day, plus the 80 you missed).
You may break the burpees up throughtout the day. As it gets more involved, spread them out.
You may include burpees that happen to be in a workout that you are already doing. If you’re doing the Filthy Fifty, the 50 in the workout count.

However, for best results – Do them first thing in the morning, maybe even before you eat breakfast (although Neely isn’t a huge fan of this idea for everyone, especially if you have low blood sugar in the morning. She says you should eat a little something before you burpee if that’s the case). Nothing will get your metabolism cranked up better, and you can even keep your pj’s on

Don’t scale them. Do them all in a row, each time. Make sure your chest touches the ground!

Don’t skip a day. You know right now what your workout is going to be for the next 100 days. You REALLY don’t have any excuses now, do you?

If you are already doing intense workouts (CrossFit, or some other HIIT) or are doing a lot of volume (something like marathon training), there’s no need to worry. This should be supplemental training. If you’re doing some big strength work, like bench press or heavy squats, save these for after. Even as you approach the 100th day, this shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes, so you’ll always have time to do them. If you’re worried about a rest day, you can do one day in the morning, and the next in the evening, giving yourself a good 36 hours in between.

Burpees +1 is going to have a positive effect on your training, whatever it may be, so there is no reason you shouldn’t/can’t do this!

Report Back

Time yourself on each tenth day and post it to the comments here, we want to see you killing it & inspiring each other!

And when it’s starting to get hard, in a month or two, just remind yourself that it’s only 1 more burpee than yesterday! So stand up out of your chair, drop down, and do your first one…go on DO IT!! Only 99 days to go!

Burpees progression from CrossFit HAX.


  1. MrsSwan, I must disagree, there is a severe lack of lasers in the video, I will try to do better on the next one.
    T-lathr & Andrea – I have a feeling u are going to crush this workout today…woohoo yeah! (victory lap around the room with arms help high after completing 1 burpee)

  2. Sounds like fun. So what is the process for working up to doing just one?


    Never seen these before – they look a bit like a short cut of Ashtanga style sun salutations. It’s been years since I’ve been fit enough to do something like that. So while struggling with the effects of being glutened ( the stiff swollen joints, pain etc) how does one do this?

    The idea of a bit more each day is a great technique. Maybe just do increasing rounds of gentle sun salutations instead?

    1. Hey Lyn!

      Did watching the video. I give a few different ways to scale it, or adjust it for different fitness levels.

      Yoga is a great way to build static strength, and, of course, flexibility, but generally, there’s not a lot of explosive jumping and the like. So if you’ve been away from the explosive game for a while, and are battling the gluten monster in your joints, by all means, go gently.

      But also believe that you can do it, and don’t be afraid to give yourself a gentle push! You can do it!

      Keep us updated!

  3. Well Max, just so everyone knows we here at Paleo Plan put our money where our mouth is, I’m doing it too. I started two weeks ago today, which has me on 15 today.

    So far, no problems. But I will say I’m getting more and more nervous about what will happen when the numbers get big. I can do 15 no problem, but at 50, I’m going to be a sweaty mess for at least 30 minutes afterwards. I sweat quickly, and a lot :(

    And I’m also doing CrossFit, so immediately after a WOD is going to be a tough time to throw on an additional 50+ burpees, but at night, I’ll be sweating like a maniac before bed.

    No whining, just being honest with my anxieties. But, I’m doing it, and getting it done. Really looking forward to being at a point where 100 burpees doesn’t scare the hell out of me.

    1. Hey Jason,

      It’s not the 100 that scare the hell out of me, it’s the 97, 98, & 99 the three days before!

      Good on ya for getting them done each day. I still have a hate/hate relationship with them. I usually feel like I’m going to kill it until about number 12, then the awesome self-talk starts. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep count with all the arguing going on in my head!

      And as far as getting them done, throw a few sets of 10 into your warm up & feed two birds with one seed!

      We’ll check in in another week or so with a mini-blog post, so people can post times and such! :)

  4. OK, I just did my first one…is there an “easy” way to jump my feet back to the start position, or am I just so fat and unfit that it’s physically impossible for me?!? LOL! Well, I did a 100 push-up challenge and a 200 st-up challenge before, I can somehow do this too, right? :D

    God bless you! :)

  5. Hmmm am I crazy or are these just a little addicting? I just did another one to see if I could get my feet to jump back—yay, they did it! Way to go feet! :D No way is my chest getting to the ground though…I won’t be able to get back up! Is there a certain speed I am supposed to do these at, or is slow and steady OK until I build up a little? :)

    1. Hey Kim!!

      Glad you got the video to load!

      As far as a pace, you should do them kinda as fast as you can. Just take breaks as you need to (not so much at first, more as you do more)

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

      Great job getting started!!

  6. that was an awesome challenge. I have to admit I almost like burpees now. At least I’m no longer in fear of them.

    1. Hey Amy!!

      Woohoo on getting started!!

      I think that’s from a remix called “The Beastles” or “The Beastlies” (something like “Beastie Boys” & “Beatles” mixed together ;)

  7. How come everyone lays down on the ground in the middle of a burpee? It’s my understanding that it’s to be a pushup, not a sprawl on the ground movement. Even the guy in the video let his body lay on the ground. Is that okay? Or just the lazy man’s (or the out of shape) way of doing it?

    1. Marie – There are lots of different versions of the burpee. I’m sure Max will chime in here (the guy in the video), but this is just one way to do it. You can make it a push-up if you’d like.

    2. Hey Marie!!

      Max chiming in!

      Great question!!

      This is sort of the “starter” burpee (fine, fine…it’s also a bit of a “hack” burpee as well).

      Here’s the thing.

      Yes, a super-strict burpee would be a strict push-up (no flop) with the feet then jumping straight to a squat position, chest up, arms up, then squatting directly to the jump.

      However, the burpee serves many purposes (part of the reason it’s so awesome), and one of those is conditioning. If you do the “strict” style, most people find that the push-up is the limiting factor- meaning that their arms give out first, before the legs or lungs. In order to have the movement be easier and focus a bit more on the conditioning, we give the “flop” version. After 50-100 of them, people are feeling it all over.

      From a physics stand point, part of what makes the burpee so taxing is that the range of motion is so large. You literally go from your whole body on the ground, to jumping in the air, it’s the most range of motion you can have just using your body. So whether you flop down or are strict about it, you’re getting the same amount of “work” done (as in force x distance/time) and are therefore producing more power.

      If we both do as many burpees as we can in a minute, and I do 30 “flopping” while another person does 20 “strict” I actually, from the math, did more work and am more powerful (in this context). If, however, the focus is more on specific muscle activation, and youre looking to build more strength, specifically, through the shoulder and work the push-up, then you will get there with fewer reps doing them strict.

      This could be a nice blog post in itself, examining where specific form requirements meet specific fitness goals…time to do some writing ;)

  8. I have done about 1200-1400 burpees each day for four days straight, Averages for 100 are 5min 45-50sec, did this in sets of 100, 50’s and a couple 30’s, usually supersetted 50’s with pull-ups and core work. I LOVE BURPEES :)

  9. I think burpees make my back sore. In fact I know they make my back sore – very sore at times. I have good core strength and, unless I am super tired at the end of a workout, have good form when doing burpees. What can I do instead that will provide similar benefiits?

    1. Michelle!

      SO sorry to hear that burpees give your back trouble!

      How do squat thrusts feel on your back?

      Also, the burpees that we generally do are quite lenient in form, they’re almost like “floppies!” Have you figured out which part of the movement, specifically is causing the issue? Is it the push-up? The jump? The transition? I’ve got a guy in my gym who has a really bad back, and he’s fine with burpees as long as he doesn’t jump. He just stands, and claps overhead. I don’t want to cause you more pain, but I didn’t know if you’ve tried to figure out exactly which piece of it is giving you trouble!

      If all else fails, you can do squat thrusts, jump rope, or jumping squats.

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