There are many exercises to choose from when you’re trying to lose weight. What about burpees, are they good for weight loss?
Burpees are a type of sequence of multiple bodyweight exercises.
Compared to cardio exercises done at high intensity, burpees don’t burn that many calories during the workout. In addition, burpees won’t be as good for muscle building as weight lifting workouts with external weights.
Even if you are looking for a no-equipment, at-home exercise, something like lunges will likely help you more with weight loss than burpees.
That being said, even though burpees are not the best of the best for weight loss, they can still help you lose weight a good amount. Keep in mind that your diet and other lifestyle habits are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do.
What exactly are burpees?
Burpees are a type of calisthenics, which means bodyweight, exercise. One full burpee repetition involves the following steps:
- Start from a standing position
- Squat down and place your hands flat on the ground
- Kick back your feet so you are in a plank position
- Return to your previous squat position by kicking your feet to the front again
- Finally jump up with your stretched arms pointing up
There are other burpee variations that involve different postures and moving of arms and/or legs. For example doing a pushup when you’re in the plank position between steps 3 and 4. This will have an impact on how good the burpee is for weight loss.
Cardio versus HIIT versus muscle building
All forms of exercise can be divided into 3 main categories. These 3 categories are cardio, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and muscle building. In terms of what parts of your body they mainly impact you can bucket cardio and HIIT together.
Each workout will inevitably use both your cardiovascular system and muscles. However, usually one of the two really stands out.
The way cardio and HIIT help you lose weight are slightly different from how more muscle helps you lose weight. One or the other can be better depending on the situation.
You do train your cardiovascular health to some extent but burpees are mainly a muscle building workout.
Muscle building helps you burn more calories by increasing muscle mass. How much you weigh is an important factor in how many calories you burn each day. That’s how many weight loss plateaus happen, you lose some weight and you start burning fewer calories with the same habits.
Building more muscle helps you add healthy weight. A certain amount of muscle also burns slightly more calories than the same amount of fat. This means that by spending a little time building muscle you can increase the number of calories you burn 24/7.
Some of the muscles you will train with burpees include:
- Lower back
Burpees are a great bodyweight exercise to build some extra muscle mass.
Do keep in mind that muscle-building exercises with external weights generally allow you to build more muscle mass in a shorter amount of time compared to bodyweight exercises like burpees. This in turn leads to more weight loss.
Cardio and HIIT
Cardio and HIIT mainly help you burn more calories by increasing the intensity and quantity of movement right now.
This makes those kinds of exercise great for short term energy usage. The flip side of the coin is that once you stop doing these kinds of exercise the extra calorie burning will stop fast.
HIIT is basically cardio but faster. So depending on your tempo you are doing one or the other. The higher the intensity of the exercise you are doing, the more calories you burn.
HIIT can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stopped the exercise.
Do this for long term weight loss
So cardio and HIIT are good for fat loss in the next hour or so.
For long term weight loss muscle building is usually more time and effort efficient.
You can also do both. The extra muscle will help you get more out of your cardio workout by increasing the amount of mass you have to move around.
Often people forget that your choice of exercise isn’t only about how efficient the calorie burning is.
A full-on weight lifting workout might be more time-efficient for long-term weight loss but if you don’t like that kind of workout, chances are you won’t stick to that. This can make burpees a better choice depending on the individual. The workout that doesn’t get done doesn’t burn any calories.
How many calories do burpees burn?
You have to keep in mind that the amount of calories burned by exercising depends from person to person. Things like age, weight, activity levels, and more influence it.
That being said, there are still approximations for how many calories you can burn by doing a burpee. You can also see the calories burned for different kinds of exercises to see how all the workouts compare.
The following numbers are an estimation for a 155-pound person doing the exercises for 30 minutes (1).
- Burpees: 220 calories
- Water Aerobics: 149 calories
- Stretching (Hatha Yoga): 186 calories
- Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
- Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
- Elliptical Trainer (general): 335 calories
- Running 5.2 mph: 335 calories
- Jumping rope: 372 calories
- Swimming (breaststroke): 372 calories
Not a lot of people can do burpees for 30 minutes. Nonetheless, this does give you a perspective on how effective this exercise is for calorie burning compared to others. You can check out the specific article on how many calories burpees burn for different time intervals and bodyweights.
The thing with these numbers is also that the more intense and the longer you do your exercise, the more calories you will burn. For example, if you do your burpees at a faster pace, or wear a weighted vest, you can burn more calories in less time.
The numbers above are great to get an estimation but you can’t rely on them being the exact same for you.
The amount of calories you can burn with burpees during the exercise is not great but the long-term weight loss benefits of building muscle are hard to quantify. If you want to burn a lot of calories during the 30 minutes of your workout there are better exercises than burpees.
How long does it take to see results from burpees?
One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000). How long it takes to see weight loss results from burpees will also depend on the number of calories in your diet.
One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intense to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.
15 minutes of burpees a day could help you burn an extra 1100 calories in 10 days which is about 0.31 pounds of body fat. 30 days 3300 calories and so on…
Keep in mind that losing weight too fast can be harmful. In general, a 500 calorie deficit per day is considered to be a healthy weight loss rate.
Because of the muscle you may gain from burpees your weight might not move that much initially. That does not mean you are not losing fat. If you lose inches but not weight when you start doing burpees you are most likely gaining some muscle weight and losing body fat weight.
Should you do burpees for weight loss?
The number of calories burned during the workout per minute of burpees is rather low compared to many other exercises and workouts. On the other hand burpees will help you build some muscle mass which benefits long-term weight loss.
Even if you are specifically looking for a no-equipment, quick & convenient, exercise at home something like lunges may help you build more total muscle mass, and thus help weight loss more than burpees.
If you don’t mind going to the gym you can certainly find exercises that benefit weight loss more.
That being said, even though there may be better ones, burpees are still a good bodyweight exercise for weight loss. If you really like doing burpees and you can stay a lot more consistent with them than other exercises they may be the best choice for a weight loss workout.
Keep in mind that the things you eat and other lifestyle habits stay important no matter what exercise routine you’re following. It’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.
Do burpees burn belly fat?
Burning belly fat is more about losing weight overall than doing a “targeted” workout. Since burpees can help you burn a certain amount of calories they can help you lose belly fat as well. There are however better strategies to burn belly fat.