9Round Fitness Blog


The History of the Burpee

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We know some of you probably cringed when you saw the title of this blog — especially those of you who are joining us for our June Burpee Challenge — and we totally get it. But that isn’t going to stop us from sharing a little history about this classic move that so many of us have (reluctantly) faced in the gym.


History of the Burpee

The burpee earned its signature name from Mr. Royal H. Burpee back in the 1930s. He originally created the move as a “quick way to assess fitness” for his thesis project while earning a doctorate in applied physiology at Columbia University in New York City. Eventually, his creation gained popularity after the burpee became part of the Armed Services’ official testing methods for new recruits during World War II.

Back then, an official burpee test started off by requiring new recruits to do as many burpees as they could in just 20 seconds. The standard time for a burpee test eventually grew to a full minute, where doing 41 or more was considered excellent and doing less than 27 was considered a poor performance.

At the time, a burpee test was used to judge a person’s agility, strength, and coordination. The military no longer uses the burpee during its assessment tests, but it’s sometimes still included as part of their physical training programs.


The Burpee Today

While the burpee is still quite popular today, the original move looks much different compared to what you might see in your 9Round studio. Mr. Burpee’s original creation consisted of getting down into the squat position with both hands on the ground, then kicking your feet out into the high plank position before popping them back in and standing up.

As the years have gone by, the burpee has been adapted by fitness professionals many times. The most common adapted burpee you will see at 9Round studios across the world includes an added push-up in the middle and a final jump at the end. We also have our highly adapted Spring Break-You Burpees that are designed to be even more challenging (if you can imagine such a thing