Celebrity fitness trainer Bob Harper says the burpee ‘does it all’

Bob Harper demonstrates burpees
Celebrity fitness trainer Bob Harper says the burpee “does it all.”
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

If you had to take one fitness move to a desert island, the burpee would be it. “This movement is one of my favorites, and I also hate it,” says celebrity trainer Bob Harper.

What it does

In a word, everything. Burpees strengthen the upper body and lower body, enhance mobility and balance, and kick up your metabolism. “It does it all,” Harper says. “You will get the workout of your life.”

What to do


Start by standing with feet about shoulder width apart. Reach down and put your hands flat on the floor in front of you. Jump or step your feet back behind you so you are now in a full plank position. From here, lower yourself to the ground. But now is not the time to rest. Holding your body in that plank position, push yourself back up, and then walk or jump your feet back up to your hands and stand. If that’s not enough, Harper wants you to clap your hands over your head as you hop in place — a quasi jumping jack to polish off the move.

How much

Harper says one of his new favorite training methods is Tabata training, which he says is the best way to get in the hardest workout possible in the least amount of time. It works like this: 20 seconds of movement, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for eight rounds. So, do as many burpees as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and then get back to it, for eight rounds in all.

Note to beginners: Don’t be discouraged if you can only get one or two burpees in each round. These are tough!