Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 77 - comments from lifehacker

It's exciting to have lots of visitors and more commenters on this blog! All motivation helps at this point. Please continue to comment!!

I also wanted to address the question that someone in the comments yesterday raised about why we'd do this challenge in the first place. Here is there comment:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Half Way Point!!! - Day 71":
"I caught this from and I feel compelled to comment. I don't quite understand the challenge and I don't understand why you would put such stress on your body. Working out is a key function of a healthy life style. However, doing so in a manner that allows for no real rest is just a bad idea. What will you do at the end of it? It'll probably take some time for your body to heal... anyway, maybe I just don't understand, but I think the best results with a workout come from rest. Resting is where all the 'magic' happens and your fitness increases and your muscles strengthen. That's all, don't mean to rain on your parade. I just hope you don't cause yourself permanent damage to your wrists or backs or other areas you're over stressing."
Posted by Anonymous to The 2009 One Hundred Day Burpee Challenge at March 17, 2009 9:39 PM

I don't actually have the answer that addresses all the fitness parts of this because sometime I ask myself the same thing and maybe someone else (ahem, Hedwig) will do a full post on this.

However....why do people do any endurance fitness challenge? run marathons? hike the Appalachian trail? Free Dive? Climb Mt. Everest?

I think its a combination of mental and physical challenge. Also most people (that I know of) that entered this challenge are athletes and workout in some way on a regular basis. Part of being an athlete is being in tune with your body's needs. You certainly can't complete your goal if you injure yourself or deplete all your resources. From what I know of the challengers we are all being pretty smart about it. Taking a day off (and making it up later) when we need to, breaking it into smaller sets, modifying for injury or taking certain parts slow.

If you are starting this challenge and need advice on how to get through this safely please read through our old posts as there are lots of suggestions that we have shared along the way and also ask anything in the comments!

I know for me that I complain that my low back is cranky and sore. Well to tell the whole story it is cranky and sore because I have terrible posture (which I am trying to help by sitting on a swiss ball at my desk). This challenge is strengthening my core and helping align my spine and pelvis -- this causes some soreness. I counter it with lots of yoga & these days I am doing sets of 10 throughout the day because I can't handle one sitting.


  1. Here are some of my thoughts on the pros and cons of burpees and the challenge, both in terms of effects on physical/mental fitness and life lessons: (sorry for the lengthy post)
    Pros -
    Increased upper body and abdominal strength and definition. Measurable gains include improved bench press at 115# from 3x5 reps with spotter to 3x7 reps without spotter, increased reps and ease on incline situps and kettlebell swings, L-pullups increase from 1 to 3, improved stability and range of motion on front squats, max pushups in a minute from 42 to 43, with much greater range of motion. Also an average of five people hit on me daily, up from a previous average of three (jk).

    I do sets of 8-15 throughout the day, and I imagine that my metabolism has improved as well. Over the last month+, I have stopped being diligent about not eating sugar, portion size and carbohydrate intake, and I have not gained a pound. Ordinarily, if I eat like I have been for this amount of time, I would have gained 3-5 pounds. I will try to return to healthier eating habits for this last period to see what happens. When I lived in Vietnam last year, a set of 50 burpees for time was my most frequent exercise routine - yes, living conditions were similar to a jail cell - and I returned to the US about 5lbs below my current and average weight. However, this could have been due to the pho, small portion sizes, lack of processed foods and the calories burned trying to communicate what food I wanted. Oh, and the burden of being the fattest female in a country of 85 million people.

    More on increased tone and definition, as this is very exciting for this rugby player. For those who don't know, rugby players do exercises well into their 30s that most athletes ditch after their college varsity experiences end. Other than crossfitters and pro athletes, I don't think there are many regular gym attenders who can be found doing cleans, squats, olympic lifts and sprinting 400s, 200s, and 100s. And the thing about these exercises is they HURT, a lot, AND despite the hurt, they don't necessarily make you have the best beach body. (Now before I get crushed by an onslaught of posts telling me that athletic bodies are the most beautiful, etc, let me say that I know this and wouldn't trade for a body created by salads, spinning, 1,000 reps with 3lb pink weights, step aerobics, lululemon and general insecurity - but it would be nice to, just once, find a pair of jeans that fits both my waist and thighs:).

    They can be done anywhere. I highly recommend them for travelers, however I recommend doing a set of 50 as fast as you can and not spreading throughout the day. This will yield impressive aerobic and anaerobic benefits. Not only was I (relatively) skinny when I came back from Vietnam, but I was also fit enough to compete in rugby playoffs.

    Reminder that the hardest part of completing any task is simply starting it; So many times I have started a set on the condition that I will only do three and ended having done twelve - fifteen. I am unemployed and have also used burpees to improve my discipline in completing my daily tasks. I create a circuit of tasks with a set of burpees between each task. The burpees are a great break and also provide energy for the next task.

    Cons -
    My body is very tight and uncomfortable. I stretch frequently and vigorously, but still cannot seem to loosen up my hips and shoulders.

    As mentioned several times, there is pain in my wrists that I am sure is from the burpees. It is not terrible, but it does make me consider quitting the challenge. So far, I've been able to get by with taking a weekend day or two off and making up the burpees during the week. However, I, like many others, am in the unpleasant position of having to choose between potential damage to my body and quitting something. Quitting sucks, injuries suck, which leads into the next con...

    The challenge, since it takes place over 3+ months, is a cruel reminder of how common injuries are in athletes, especially rugby players, and how frustrating they can be. I can think of at least five people who's character and commitment would have led me to bet on them finishing the challenge that are now out of it due to injuries. And not injuries from the challenge, but injuries from other athletic endeavors. It's a painful reminder of how much injury prevention and dumb luck can matter in the success of an athlete.

    Loss of strength. I know I said above that I have gained capacity in some areas, but I do think that if burpees were your only exercise, and were not supplemented by weight training, you would eventually lose some strength. Similar to crossfit's complaints about marathon runners who can't lift heavy weight or jump more than half a foot off the ground, I think the burpee is limited in its strength gaining benefits. Of course, that limit is related to how much you weigh and where your baseline strength begins. Relating to my Vietnam experience, when I came back and played rugby, I definitely had the stamina for it, but on the other hand, lacked the strength and was weak in contact. Luckily it didn't matter because I'm a back;)

  2. I work as a holistic health counselor, so I have a bit of insight.
    Rest is a critical component of overload results (i.e. getting into shape), but it is not necessarily missing here. If I am reading the post right, there is no consistent rest within the challenge because we spend so much time doing burpees there is no time to sit around during the day and recover.
    My response is this-
    First, most of your rest and recover time comes during sleep, and it is difficult to restore muscles while awake. While there are lots of benefits to putting your legs up for a few hours each day, they do not compare to 8 hours of sleep. Additionally, we are using mostly fast-twitch muscle fibers in the burpee sets, and they do not need as much recovery time.
    As for a 'day off', some of my fellow challengers and myself have taken one at one point or another and then made up that day's burpees later on.
    Lastly, in terms of joints etc. I have been concentrating on landing like a feather (though I am 6'5" and 215...) so I am not putting a whole lot of weight on my wrists etc. Also, the light pressure I am putting on can be beneficial, a stimulus to build stronger tissues.
    Thanks for reading!

  3. It's also important to note that the amount of exercise you are doing while engaged in this challenge is 10-15 minutes a day. It's not like you are hitting the gym for 3 hours every day without any rest. The most basic health guidlines suggest that we get at a minimum 30 minutes of brisk activity a day.

  4. Thanks lifehacker and 100burpees . I showed the exercise to my 12 year old daughter and the challenge is on between us. I give up she gets 20 bucks and if she gives up I get $5. Day 1 = 1 burpee went well.

    Should be interesting and fun :)

  5. Just starting today, thanks for the challenge and the suggestions. Any other thoughts on how to keep from injuring wrists. I do a lot of typing throughout the day and don't want to be injuring my livelihood.

  6. I had wrist pain for a bit during the challenge. Taking a day or two off would be one method, but I was already in debt so many burpees that I didn't want to do that. Instead, for three days I did my burpees on my fists (instead of open hands) on a soft surface (pillows, grass, carpet) and that did the trick. Anyone else have ideas?

  7. I started the challenge with a lingering wrist injury that I was going to P/T for. I was super careful - wrapped the wrist, cut down on the grip centric aspects of my normal daily workouts (no pull ups, push press, etc.), ice, and heat - and was fine. About halfway through the challenge, my wrist had healed.

  8. Great challenge !! Anybody who has done burpees knows they are very hard to do and you are exhausted after doing only 10 or even 5 if you are not in good shape. Curious to see if anybody makes it. Good luck ! I'd like to do that in the near future myself but I am too busy right now losing weight with cardio work outs.

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