SFH #176: Royal Burpee

Some exercise history 📜

In case you thought this was some elegant version of the burpee, it's not. Royal Huddleston Burpee is the man who created the namesake exercise. He was a physiologist getting his Ph.D. from Columbia University when he came up with this hallmark physical fitness test move. It was a part of his work Seven Quickly Administered Tests of Physical Capacity published to test overall physical capacity.

As you would see today, the original version did not contain a jump, and the focus was on alignment and mobility more than raising the heart rate. First, a basic squat, then plank, then stand. And repeat. Burpee initially intended the move as a mere test for speed and efficiency--four times in a row. However, in his published work, he would later suggest that it could be used as an advanced fitness test in recording as many as possible within 20 seconds and then 60 seconds.

Today, the burpee is iconic as one of the most efficient full-body moves used in various training disciplines. Variations are bountiful as well.1 My favorite (not listed in the Wikipedia listing) is the frogger. 🐸

Here's a version you can try out.