If you did not know what a burpee was before starting CrossFit, you found out quickly. The burpee is a basic functional movement. In its simplest form it involves lying down on the floor and standing up. Most workouts prescribe a little more flare with the movement and require you to jump and clap your hands over your head — easy.
By themselves, burpees may be easy, but when they are done in large sets and/or while you are exhausted, they can be miserable to get through. In those tough moments with burpee workouts, it comes down to your aerobic capacity and determination.
With the Open looming, there is a very high likelihood that you will be doing burpees in at least one of the workouts, regardless of which Open workout version you complete. Naturally, burpees are ideal for the equipment-free workouts in the Open. In the first 10 years of Open competition, a version of burpees were included every year except 2015. In 2016, burpees showed up in two Open workouts — just in case people felt deprived in 2015. Likewise at Regionals from 2011 to 2018 (when programming was standardized), a version of the burpee was included for individuals every year except in 2015.
Note: Obviously there were burpees at the 2009 and 2010 Regionals as well as during Sanctional competitions, but those events were not standardized worldwide for all competitors during the season. As for the Games, a version of the burpee was included every year for individuals except at the first CrossFit Games in 2007 and again in 2015. Notably, the 2015 CrossFit Games athletes in all divisions experienced a whole season free of burpees in competition.
A number of different versions of the burpee have been programmed during the Games season over the years. Early versions of burpees involved touching the chest to the ground, standing up, and then jumping while clapping overhead.
To provide easier standards for judging, variants of the burpee were introduced in later years. A number of times, the burpee had to be performed by jumping and touching a target overhead (typically rings or a pull-up bar). To make them more challenging, a bar-facing burpee was implemented that required a 9¼-inch jump over a barbell loaded with standard weights. Burpees in the Open have typically been bar-facing. The next progression in difficulty involved doing burpees over boxes, as seen most often at Regionals. Ring muscle-up burpees were first programmed at the 2012 Games and then were used at Regionals the following year. Team burpees often added the requirement of synchronized burpees over barbells or the Worm.
The Games provide the opportunity to program unique versions of the burpee, such as sand burpees, burpees over hay bales with a sandbag, and the most difficult burpee version to date: burpees over a 6-foot wall. It is fun to speculate what new versions of burpees could be introduced in the future.
By the Numbers
Below is a breakout of the number of burpees programmed for the individual division during the CrossFit Games season, first by Games season stage and then by burpee version. For the times that burpees were included in an AMRAP, the number used is from the best scores worldwide in the respective workout.
|Burpee to Target
|Burpee onto Weight Plate
|Burpee Over Box/Beam
|Burpee Over Hay Bale w/ Sandbag
|Ring Muscle-up Burpee
|Burpee Over 6-foot wall
Top Burpee Athletes
The purest burpee test occurred in Open Workout 12.1. This was a 7-minute AMRAP of burpees. The standard was to touch a target 6 inches above the athlete’s standing outstretched hand. Unsurprisingly, 2010 CrossFit Games champion Kristan Clever put up the best worldwide performance for the women with 143 burpees. The top men worldwide tied with 161 burpees; the leaders were an unknown Russian athlete named Danila Shokhin and also a U.S. athlete who was unknown — at the time — named Scott Panchik.
Athletes with multiple worldwide wins in the 32 CrossFit Games season workouts/events listed above can be found in the list below. The names on the list are not surprising.
Chad Schroeder has been doing CrossFit since 2009. Schroeder started working for CrossFit Media regularly at the 2012 CrossFit Games. He compiles and tracks all the CrossFit Games season results, athlete bios, and career records. He provides direct stats and research assistance to the media crews during live events and production shows. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, he is a civil engineer during the day and was in the United States Air Force for 10 years. He has his Professional Engineer’s license along with master’s and bachelor’s degrees in engineering. Before finding CrossFit, he came from a triathlon and marathon background. Outside his work and CrossFit, he enjoys hiking and snowshoeing in the Colorado mountains He also likes following MMA (UFC) and is a huge Star Wars fan and Lego collector.