To different degrees

I've noticed something int he lads I train over the years. Well, I've noticed many things but for their peace of mind I'm going to keep this piece about the burpees! It is the same thing that I have seen in a lot of photos on the internet of people doing burpees.


Instructional pictures are quite clear, the finishing position is upright. Sounds straightforward enough (or straightuppish enough) but as with many thing in life, it is not always as straightforward as the textbooks would have you believe.



I've said before, I'm not actually that bothered about whether you finish your burpee with a jump or with your hands overhead or at your sides. As long as you finish upright, I'm a happy bunny (everything is relative). What I see a lot of though, is the tendency to fail to open the hips at the top of the movement, and that is what I am talking about. I think it comes about because the head does not lead (and I mean that in both senses). And, the individual is almost trying to spot the landing before they have really got into the jump.



Keep your head up. Eyes on the prize!



Years of having my rear-end handed to me in rugby (both codes) and a soupcon of dabbling with the component parts of MMA reinforces the notion which holds strong in the mental side of my coaching (that's to do with the brain and thinking, not some of the frankly loopy antics!) - where the head leads, the body follows. 



Fatigue or a focus on time taken as the measure of performance. I see both as reasons and not mutually exclusive ones at that. Form matters. I'm not just another sad old Brit banging on about archaic etiquette. Unless you're a gymnast or some sort of figure athlete (ice skater etc) you can afford to have some softening of body position if it helps you gain an advantage. But not in training. Training is where you get it right and you drill it so that the correct performance of the tasks becomes second nature. that way in competition your mind is free to focus on the field ahead of it. We play our games on the pitch, not on paper, so we need our minds clear to pick up on what is going on. Losing points for incomplete reps or getting schooled because somebody is technically better than you is a sure-fire way of ramping up the stuff you will need to think about.



You need to know the difference between training and competition too. In training your main competition should be with yourself to improve some dimension of yourself every time you suit up. In competition, the first battle is with yourself, then, when you have yourself to heel you can destroy everybody else!



This burpee year thing isn't really either of these things:- neither competition, nor training. I am doing burpees...well, to do burpees! Hmmm, no problem, it just means that I must do them properly. [ Full disclosure - I do them on my own for the most part, so it can be difficult to judge if I am doing them as crisply as I would like to think...I have not counted some reps where I have noticed it as being sub-standard though].



In the interests of not infringing anybody's intellectual property rights (and, just as importantly, so as not to get into a pissing contest with anybody on the internet), rather than lift photos off the internet, this time I have had a go at making my own. The reassuring thing for me was how difficult it was to do the incorrect version! There might be something to the suggestion of habituation from doing thousands of repetitions!



This is not a complete rep. Ignoring the belly, notice how the hips are still in flexion
Belly is still there but other than that, even without the arms up, the hips are engaged
One of the tools I have used to engrain this pattern is what I dub the Lord Flashheart burpee. For those of you not familiar with his work, try these videos (Blackadder, BBC comedy at its finest). [They are work safe (ish), adult humour]. 



Basically, you perform a normal burpee but instead of arms overhead or in line with the seams on your shorts, as you jump up, you pull your arms back, hands to hips - accompanied by a "woof!" if you like. Honestly, if you prefer, sing the Timewarp while you do it, just get that pelvic thrust in.

Head up, shoulders back, hips engaged. 1 or 100, do them right. Make them count. If you're training for sports performance, you'll derive more benefits from the exercise if you actually complete the movement with your hips.

If you find this funny, smile while you're doing the burpees as well. Not only will it piss off anybody who is watching, but in the higher numbers of reps, that feedback (albeit slightly warped) will help you feel better while you're doing them. As I wrote on one of my whiteboards the other night: while I can still choose to smile, I may have lost but I am not lost. Lost but not defeated.

Whether you're in isolation or in competition with somebody else, how much you lose in the contest is always within your control.

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