10 Useful Alternatives To Burpees

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Burpees have their advantages but they are not for everyone. Find out what alternatives to burpees offer similar results.

Some of the benefits of burpees include that they your leg, chest, and core muscles, they are a no-equipment exercise you can do at home, improve coordination, improve cardiovascular health, etc.

Whether you don’t enjoy burpees, you want a more wrist, knee, shoulder, or back-friendly alternative, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these alternatives to burpees can help you with some or all of these aspects.

1. Plank jacks

Planks are a very popular no-equipment bodyweight exercise. By making this exercise a bit more dynamic and changing your hand grip you get plank jacks.

Take the following steps to do plank jacks:

  1. Start with your face facing the floor on your hands and knees.
  2. Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line. This means that your knees will be off the ground and that you are resting on your hands and feet.
  3. Make a little outward jump with your feet.
  4. Jump back in the position of step 2.
  5. Keep jumping in and out for a certain amount of repetitions or time.
How to do a plank jack

Plank jacks can be a more knee and back-friendly alternative to burpees. At the same time, they still engage your core muscles and get your heart beating.

This exercise is not a good substitute for burpees if you are looking for a leg, chest, and jump workout. Plank jacks are also not ideal to reach the same cardiovascular intensity as burpees.

2. Box jumps

For this next exercise, you need an elevated platform that is strong and stable enough to jump on. An example of a suited object is a good plyo box. Take the following steps to do a box jump:

  1. Stand upright in front of the box with your feet at shoulder width.
  2. Bend into about a quarter squat while you swing your arms back.
  3. Swing your arms to the front again and at the same time jump forward on top of the box. When landing you want to have your knees more or less at the quarter squat again. If you are squatted lower, this may be a sign the box is too high for your current jump level.

Make sure you pay attention to using the right technique to avoid any injuries. For box jumps it is also smart to start with a low height and build up from there.

Being too optimistic about your capabilities can be especially punishing when doing a box jump.

Box jumps are a great alternative to burpees if you don’t care about all the upper body and cardio engagement and mainly want to improve your jump height.

3. Incline pushups

One reason some people don’t do burpees is that they can’t do a full pushup. You can just do burpees without the pushup part but that way you will never be able to do a full burpee.

Another option is finding an exercise you are able to do that improves chest strength.

To do an incline pushup you need a stable elevated object you can put your hands on. Once you have that, take the following steps to do an incline pushup:

  1. Put your hands about shoulder-width apart on the elevated platform. Your arms start stretched.
  2. Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line and your arms are at a 90-degree angle to your body.
  3. Slowly fold your arms at your elbows until your face is close to the platform. Your upper arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees to your sides. Another way to put it is if someone is looking down at you from above your arms should make an arrow, not a T.
  4. Stretch your arms again until you are back in the position from the second step.
How to do an incline pushup

Incline pushups are easier to do than regular pushups since less of your body weight rests on your arms, wrists, and shoulders.

The more incline you go, the higher you place your hands, the easier the pushups become.

You can even do wall pushups which are the classic bodyweight exercise done against a wall.

If chest strength is your main issue you can also benefit from other pushup alternatives.

4. Lunges

Walking lunges are a great alternative to the squat part of burpees. To do two walking lunges take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width.
  2. Take a big step forward so that you get into a position where both of your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Your front foot should be flat on the ground and your back foot should only touch the ground with the ball of the foot (front).
  3. Move your back foot forward and get into the same position as step 2 but with your other foot in the front.
How to do walking lunges

For some people, the jump squat in burpees is not challenging enough to grow the strong leg muscles responsible for the movement.

If this is the case or you want to speed up the muscle-building process, lunges may be the right alternative for you. Putting your weight on one leg at a time makes this exercise more effective.

Lunges are also a low-impact exercise which means that your knees won’t have to receive shocks from jumps. The downside is that you don’t get the same core muscle, chest muscle, and cardio workout as burpees.

5. Mountain climbers

Take the following steps to do two mountain climbers:

  1. Start with your face facing the floor on your hands and knees.
  2. Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line. This means that your knees will be off the ground and that you are resting on your hands and feet.
  3. Move the knee of one leg forward to your chest as far as you comfortably can. Keep your back straight throughout the movement.
  4. Return that leg to the position in step 2 in a controlled motion.
  5. Repeat the same movement with your other leg.
How to do mountain climbers

Mountain climbers are a great exercise to achieve a similar cardio and core workout as burpees without the shocks on your knees from jumping.

The downside of this exercise is that your arm and leg muscles do not get that much training.

6. Jumping jacks

How to do a jumping jack

Jumping jacks are done by alternating between 2 stances by jumping.

You start off standing with your 2 feet together and your arms down by your side.

In the second stance, your 2 feet are apart slightly further than shoulder-width and your hands are above your head with stretched arms. During the entire movement, you keep your arms stretched.

Similar to burpees, jumping jacks involve jumping and engaging your cardiovascular system. They do also engage your arm and leg muscles to some extent but just not at the same intensity as burpees.

If you are looking for a core workout, jumping jacks are also not the best burpee alternative.

7. Bicycle crunches

Take the following steps to do two repetitions of bicycle crunches:

  1. Lie down on your back with a 90-degree angle in both your hips and knees. Hold your hands against the side of your head with your elbows pointing sideways.
  2. Raise your shoulders and push your lower back against the ground with the help of your ab muscles.
  3. Slightly turn your upper body to one side and reach with your elbow to the knee of the opposite side (for example your left elbow to your right knee) while stretching the leg of the side of the elbow you use while still keeping it off the ground (continuing the example stretching your left leg).
  4. Bring the stretched leg back into the starting position and repeat with the other side. Keep your shoulders off the ground during the exercise.
How to do a bicycle crunch

Another issue people have with burpees is that their wrists come under a lot of pressure. Bicycle crunches allow you to train your core muscles without really using your wrists.

They also implement the coordination aspect that is present in burpees.

Keep your movements slow and controlled to get a good core workout. If you don’t feel the muscles in this area fatiguing your technique can likely use some improvement.

8. Step-ups

For step-ups you need a stable object or platform strong enough to stand on. The plyo box may be a good option depending on how much pressure you want to put on it. Something like a concrete platform works too.

Once you have a suited object or platform, take the following steps to do two step-ups:

  1. Stand upright in front of the object facing toward it with your feet at shoulder-width.
  2. Raise one foot and put it on the surface of the object. Make sure your sole is entirely on the surface.
  3. Raise your body by exerting pressure with the leg of the foot that is on the object.
  4. Put your second foot next to the other one.
  5. Step down with the first foot.
  6. Step down with the second foot.
  7. Do a repetition with the other foot first.
How to do a step-up

Step-ups are generally more effective than burpees for training your leg muscles. At the same time, your leg muscles will likely fatigue faster than your cardiovascular system when doing step-ups.

This means that if you want to train your cardio you will need other exercises as well.

Step-ups also do not engage your chest and core muscles that much.

9. High plank to low planks

Take the following steps to do a high plank to low plank:

  1. Put your hands about shoulder-width apart on the ground. Your arms start stretched.
  2. Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line and your arms are at a 90-degree angle to your body.
  3. Fold one arm and place the elbow and forearm of this side on the ground.
  4. Do the same with the other arm. You are now in a low plank position.
  5. Stretch one arm and lean on your hand on this side.
  6. Do the same with the other arm. You are now in a high plank position.
  7. Repeat starting from step 3. Alternate between which arm goes first to keep your muscle distribution balanced.

Because of the time you spend switching arms, the high plank to low plank focuses more on your core muscles and less on your chest muscles than the pushup part of burpees.

So if during burpees you feel like you want to train your core but your chest muscles keep fatiguing first, this exercise may be for you. High plank to low planks may also just be a welcome variation to change up your workout plan.

10. Jumping rope

Jumping over a rope may not sound that intense at first but it is definitely a great exercise to engage your cardiovascular system.

Jumping rope also implements some of the jumping and leg muscle engagement you get when doing burpees without putting your wrists under the same stress.

The downsides of jumping rope are that you engage your chest and core muscles a lot less compared to burpees. Burpees are also generally a better leg muscle workout than jumping rope.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.