Saturday, February 15, 2014

What I learned by doing 1,000 burpees....

At the end of January, a challenge was posted on Facebook. The challenge was to do 1,000 burpees before the end of February.Two friends and I have been challenging each other to do certain body weight exercises the past few weeks. Part of this has been 50 burpees a week. Although I was sort of joking when I invited them to do the challenge, part of me was considering it. In case you need a graphic on how to do a burpee, here is a sample:

Well, one of my friends started working on the challenge on the 27th. I caved to peer pressure and joined her on the 28th. Yep, lesson number 1 is that I still cave to peer pressure. In this case, not a bad thing. 

We started doing burpees, 30 to 50 a day. Then on Superbowl Sunday, I had the bright idea of doing a challenge, one burpee for each point the Broncos scored and two burpees for each point the Seahawks scored. Yes, I was one of those that really thought the Broncos would win and that the Seahawks would not have much of an offense. Who would have guessed that we would be in for NINETY-FOUR burpees by the end of the game! We both threw in an extra six to have an even hundred for the day. It was an exhausting time but we got through it. Second lesson -- if you have an event that you want to avoid overindulging in food and drink, plan a burpee challenge. You may be so busy doing burpees that you never get around to eating or drinking. AND I was busy doing burpees. I even did an extra thirty during half time to get ahead of the game. Well, if you watched the game, you would know that the idea did not help as after kickoff for the second half, fourteen of those burpees were used up in a matter of seconds. Still, it was a strange sort of way.

My next lesson was just how competitive I am. I hated behind my friend in our quest to get the burpees done. I did everything I could to be ahead. I would do 30 to 50 burpees in the morning, only to have my friend catch up or pass me in the evening. She was not "competing" with me but I so wanted to "win." Finally, I took advantage of the fact that she hurt her back falling on the ice. Not that I was happy she was in pain but I kept doing burpees even though she couldn't. She has been out of town the past few days and I did a shitload of burpees over those days, finishing up today with 150 burpees at the gym. Yeah, I am a little too competitive at times.

Some other things I learned:
  • I like burpees...maybe even love them. I can do burpees. They used to intimidate me so much. I even remember the first time I did a "true" burpee. It was an AHA moment for me.
  • I can be proud of accomplishing something. I am not usually a person that likes to share a lot but I told a lot of people at the gym about the challenge and about my progress. It felt good to be proud of an accomplishment. It felt good doing something that others thought was "crazy."
  • One of my favorite ways to get a number of burpees in was to "superset" them. I would run a quarter mile and then do a number of burpees (between ten and twenty). I would repeat this as many times as I could. In fact, today this is how I got in the 150 burpees I needed to finish up. It was a sweaty sweaty workout but it felt good to finish it. I am still going to do burpees along with my friend when she is able. I hope to be at 1500 by the end of the month. We will see.
  • I'm not quite as uncomfortable doing things like this in the gym. Believe me, burpees are not a pretty movement but I did them. Most of the time I would do them in a corner, out of view of most of the gym but other times I would be on the training floor.
  • Sometimes it is good to have support. There was one day that I had wanted to do a certain number of burpees but I just couldn't do any more. I needed ten more to meet my goal. Seeing my trainer as I was going to stretch, he asked if I had made my goal. After telling him I was ten short, he "encouraged" me to do the final ten and he did them with me. It definitely helped to have him do them with me that day.
During my work to complete this challenge, I have had to take some rest days. I hate rest days. It is sort of a sticky point with me and trainers (current and past). In many ways, I am obsessed with working out. Who am I kidding? In EVERY way, I am obsessed with working out. I set myself up to be cranky and upset by rest days. HOW RIDICULOUS IS THIS? 

Like the worst thing in my life is that I have to take a day off from the gym? Really? I know that I am still stuck in the "calorie in versus calorie out" mentality. Even though I know it is true, I so feel like I need to work out more, work out harder, work out as much as I can to see scale victories. In fact, it is hard for me not to think the scale frustration I had today wasn't caused by the rest day yesterday....but I am told constantly about the need for recovery and such.

This week I actually took TWO rest days. Believe me this did throw me for a bit of a loop but honestly I survived. I probably even was able to work out more intensely because of the rest days. After Sunday's rest, I ran three miles (the longest since I started to run again) Monday morning. After yesterday's rest, I ran a couple of miles, did 150 burpees, completed 110 Russian twists, and completed a team cardio workout...a total of two hours at the gym. Not that I wouldn't have done these same things without the rest days, but I am kind of seeing that I wouldn't do it and felt as well as I did. The jury is still out on rest days but I am trying it.


  1. Lynn, I think this is an awesome accomplishment and I congratulate you for your enthusiasm, dedication and commitment. I never officially joined that challenge, but with the 30 that I completed today am at 390 completed in February. I don't hate them, but I certainly do not love or like them. I'm currently doing 30 per day in the hope that I'll reach a level of fitness where I can 'like' them as a friend. We (burpees and I) aren't there yet. Good on you for 150 today!!! I know that wasn't easy.

    1. I keep doing them! I had one work out where I didn't do any burpees and I missed them!

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Wow that is awesome!! Great job! Love that: When Life knows you down, do a Burpee! Haha

  3. Go Burpee Go !! Wow you did well ....

    Take Care

    All the best Jan

  4. Hi Lynn, Wow, you did incredibly with the burpees! I've never done that many in a month in my entire life!!! And burpees are not a easy exercise whatsoever, they are a very exhausting one! Congrats!

    I think it is okay to exercise every day provided that your exercise diversity provides a sort of break to major muscle groups. Such as doing bench press/pushups only on M W F. I used to exercise every single day, at the gym. I don't think every day is necessary, but with a good plan, it doesn't harm either.

    Now, I do 100 pushups in sets of 10 on W (few minutes), and a huge weightlifting day on Sn (2.5 hours). My big yoga day is St (2.5 hours), with little yoga/balancing workouts (0.5 to 1 hour) on M, T, W, Th, and F. This has been working great!

    For me, the biggest change in the past 2 years is my eating habits. I used to think that I could exercise off a few weekly indulgences, but being a lighter body weight and being muscle-y trim are not the same thing on my body.

    Honestly, Lynn, when you had your "after" photo up on your blog, really, it was very easy for me to see how much you worked out. You have a very streamlined body!!! You did the work, and you deserve the compliments you get. :-)

    1. Thanks, Marion! I so appreciate all your comments.

      I am actually going to try to listen to my trainer about some rest days. I felt a lot better last week after some rest.

      I know my eating habits have changed so much in the past few years. I still am working on things but I am so much healthier than I have ever been!

  5. That is awesome. I have not done 1 burpee EVER! Super impressed:)

  6. I am totally impressed! You have a lot of commitment and drive and you got it done!