One of CrossFit’s most-loathed movements, the burpee also represents a skill that can be transferred to other exercises, says gymnastics and movement guru Carl Paoli of San Francisco CrossFit.
“I go from flexion to extension to neutral to extension to flexion to neutral,” he explains. “It’s hard. And it goes back and forth, and it has so many moving pieces. That’s why the burpee is so hard.”
Athletes must move correctly with the knees out and the butt and stomach tight, Paoli says. From the ground, they snap in the feet for more efficient movement.
“That snap happens to be the same thing we see on kipping pull-ups, muscle-ups and even rope climb,” he says. “This is 90 percent of artistic gymnastics—being able to bow back and forth, snap down, turn things around fast.”
There is skill transfer in everything, Paoli notes.
“I need you guys to starting seeing skill on the rings, skill on burpees, skill on handstand push-ups, skill on rope climb—it’s the same,” he says. “And how you take this and you apply it to Olympic weightlifting, if you can’t do that, something’s wrong with the program.”