​Burpees, Planks, Squats: How to Do These 3 Key Exercises & Why You Should Add Them to Your Fitness Workout by Johnson Fitness & Wellness

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3 years ago

​Burpees, Planks, Squats: How to Do These 3 Key Exercises & Why You Should Add Them to Your Fitness Workout

Looking for some impactful exercises to add to your fitness workout? If you’re looking for a powerful way to boost your overall fitness and get some serious results fast, look no further than squats. Squats are relatively simple to perform, require no equipment and can be done just about anywhere. Although most people associate squats as being a leg exercises, they actually offer many benefits that make them one of the best total-body exercises. Another exercise to consider are burpees. Burpees add a challenge to any fitness routine! And, challenging most of the major muscle groups and requiring no equipment, planks are one exercise that can benefit nearly any body. Here's how to perform each of these fitness moves!

Burpees: Interestingly enough, burpees have been around since the late 1930s when Royal H. Burpee (no kidding!) invented the first version as part of a fitness test. The original version was what we would consider a “basic” burpee today:

  • Squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Jump the feet back into a plank position.
  • Jump the feet forward.
  • Return to the standing position.

Mr. Burpee had his clients perform only four reps and measured their heart rate before and after. Since then, burpees have obviously become more challenging and have become a great total body exercise that can work the legs, the upper body, the cardio system, all while torching some calories! A more modern version of the burpee might look something like this:

  • Squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you just outside your feet.
  • Jump both feet back into the plank position.
  • Drop down into a push-up with the chest touching the floor before pushing yourself back up.
  • Jump both feet back toward the hands.
  • Explosively jump up into the air while reaching your arms overhead.

There are also many other versions that can incorporate a step or a bench to jump onto or over, substituting the push up for a t-plank, performing a high knee running motion at the top, etc. Burpees are great for overall conditioning, agility, strength, coordination and burning fat!

Squats: Squats have long been blamed for being destructive to the knees, but research shows that when done properly, squats actually improve knee stability and strengthen connective tissue. Here’s a quick step-by step approach to a proper squat:

  • Warm up.
  • Stand with your feet just over shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your back in a neutral position, and keep your knees centered over your feet.
  • Be sure to keep your head up and chest out.
  • Slowly bend your knees, hips and ankles, lowering until you reach a 90-degree angle.
  • Imagine pushing your hips and butt back while keeping your weight loaded into the heels and outer foot.
  • Return to starting position using the heels to push into the floor – repeat 15-20 times, for three to four sets for beginners (do this two or three times a week).
  • Breathe in as you lower, breathe out as you return to starting position.

It’s recommended that beginners start out with body-weight squats, but there are may variations and challenging ways to make squats one of the best exercises for all fitness levels.

Planks: How do you know whether you’re doing a plank correctly and which variation is right for you? Here are the basics on planking:

  • To come into a plank position, start on all fours with your hands beneath your shoulders and lift your knees while keeping your hips low.
  • For beginners, coming into the position while your head is (gently!) resting against a wall is an effective way to teach the activation of the middle back and abdominal muscles that benefit from this training position.
  • Focus on lifting the portion of your spine that is between your shoulder blades, as well as drawing your belly muscles in towards your spine. You should also keep your hips low to activate the glutes and low abdominal muscles.

Variations: If you have wrist or elbow pain, you can also do plank on your forearms. Altering the hand position by bringing your hands forward slightly can also be used. This will make the position easier, while helping you to eventually strengthen and stabilize the wrist, elbow and shoulder joints. Another variation is to drop one or both knees for some period of time during the posture, while keeping the activation of the abdominals and glutes.

Advanced options: For a greater challenge, try lifting one leg for half of your hold time followed by the other leg. You can also perform a side plank, with or without one knee down. This position specifically strengthens the quadratus lumborum (a muscle in your lower back), which can be hard to target and may help you avoid lower back pain. You also can lift your upper leg during the side plank, adding an additional challenge to your balance and core stability.

Johnson Fitness & Wellness has even more fitness and exercise tips. Follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook

This post is sponsored by Johnson Fitness & Wellness.

The content on 30Seconds.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider. The opinions or views expressed on 30Seconds.com do not necessarily represent those of 30Seconds or any of its employees, corporate partners or affiliates.

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Elisa Schmitz
I try to do two planks, along with several minutes of yoga, every night before bed. I started with 30-second planks and have worked my way up to 60-second planks. But I want to get even stronger, so I am working on holding them longer. I haven't done burpees since gym class! I'm going to try these again to ramp things up (squats, too). Thanks for the great info, Johnson Fitness & Wellness !
Squats are tough but they work
Ikram M.
I do squats, but burpees are super challenging! Maybe if I do them more often, they won't be so bad :)
Elisa Schmitz
That’s so true, HealthyHousehold ! I hope you’ll join our Fall Into Fitness Challenge - you could win a treadmill while getting fit with us! Here’s the link to RSVP: health: Fall Into Fitness Challenge: How to Get Fit With Johnson Fitness (Video Announcing Winners Now Posted)
Ikram M.
Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds Thanks! That's a great idea but unfortunately can't participate as I have a sprained ankle. Cheering for the participants!
Elisa Schmitz
Ouch, sorry about your ankle! Hope you recover quickly. Sending healing thoughts, HealthyHousehold !
Julie Rose
Burpees really get your heart going!
Donna John
Good form on exercises is so important!!
Kristan Wager
Helpful tips! Thanks for sharing. I hate burpees, but I will try to rotate them in more.
Nicole D Pierce [inactive]
Whatever your current fitness level, by mixing these different types of exercises, you can keep your workouts interesting and maximize the health benefits.

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