From men’s health
David Whetton, 40, from New South Wales, Australia, has performed a minimum of 100 burpees in a full year. He shares Men’s health how this physical challenge has transformed his body – and his vision.
When Covid completely shut down the business, I suddenly found myself at home with more time on my hands. I felt a real need to have something to “anchor” my day in the swirling waters that Covid became for small business owners.
I had always kept fit and active – rugby league and rugby union, running, weights, tennis – but these outlets were now largely closed, and I had no idea when they would reopen. I had talked to a friend and leading boot camp operator in Sydney, Patrick ̵
So I looked online for a training challenge that I could do within the framework of my quarantined home. I came across a personal trainer in Pittsburgh named Chase Barron who had registered his own challenge at 100 burpees per day for 30 days. He spoke with such clarity and insight into how his mindset had to adapt to the aspects of the daily burpees before, during and after, he really inspired me.
I can definitely understand why the burp is hated in CrossFit circles; no days get easier with burpees! They are a constant, rolling movement that requires precision in breathing, placement of hands and feet, no pause, no procrastination, no breathing space. In addition, the burp hits all parts of your body if you do it right, from your toes to your neck.
But mainly, making burpees a mental game. Your mindset is starting to shift from ‘Do I have to do this?’ to ‘How much can I squeeze out of this?’ and you find that you wake up with burpees in your mind and hit the pillow with a great sense of accomplishment that no matter what else has not gone your way that day, at least you gave your body and mind the respect for a daily practice it benefits you, and therefore for the benefit of your loved ones, friends and colleagues because you presented the optimized version of yourself.
Because it’s not really about burpees. They are just a vehicle to find what drives you. It’s about getting back a fraction of the day to make your life – and the interaction with those around you – better. It may seem like a selfish act at first, rolling out the mat to replace another 200 burpees, but it soon turns out to be a way to give your best self to those around you who depend on you.
My motivation over the last year came from within. It was never about being ‘the biggest guy in the bar’. I am a smaller frame, and am aware of my genetic and physical limitations. Instead, I was determined to create a daily habit with mind and body that required preparation, perseverance and passion. At the age of 40, I have crystallized that these are my core skills, so why not utilize them? For me, burpees were the answer. I played every day in the top corner of a paper calendar, which held me accountable to myself.
I went from having a little pot belly to a six pack with about the ninth month. My back muscles really developed and my shoulders got wider. The biceps and triceps became elongated and became very defined. Pecs and breasts were enlarged, and shirts now suit me much better. My waist was slim and gathered, my legs toned up, especially my legs from the constant bending and pushing movement required in tuck and jump. But by far the biggest development was mental. Resilience, daily commitment and the ability to drop and do 200 burpees were far more rewarding than the physical gains, as welcome as they were!
The only time I had an injury was when I was overloaded with other bodyweight exercises, like chinups. They injured my forearms and forced me to focus more on best practice burpee technique. I also completed 100 daily kettles or dumbbell squats per day in the same period, as this gives me the extra leg strength to really complete the high jumping component of the burp effectively; It is the element of movement that really drives the cardio aspect while fighting gravity, as well as the cumulative fatigue that comes with completing that many burpee reps every day.
I started the challenge on April 2, 20202, just when my area in Australia was first locked. I started with 100 consecutive burpees per day, then added 10 reps to each consecutive month; 110 per day in May, 120 in June and so on. This week I completed a full year of burpees with 220 reps. In 365 days I have completed a total of 55,000 full pushup, tuck, jump and repeat burpees.
Along the way, I have kept in close touch with Chase and connected with like-minded burpee enthusiasts around the world on Instagram like @charlieburpee and @theburpeeguy who have become close friends across the ocean and continue to inspire me and hopefully, vice versa.
I still walk, and I always will. Daily burpees have now become as integrated into my life as the other basics; family connections, good diet, rewarding work, fresh air and restful sleep. When I complete the first 365 days, I start again at 100 and add 10 again each month, only this time I will hold two 5.5 pound dumbbells and complete 55,000 weighted burpees in curls in shoulder press, over another 365 consecutive days .
The universal reaction when I started this journey a year ago was: ‘Why? Burpees sucks! ‘And it’s because they do … if you only meet them every now and then, or if they’re presented as a sort of gymnastics tour in the gym. But it is a perception of reality. Burpees are a very effective whole body movement, and when performed regularly and with the right mindset, they can even be fun (well, almost)!
Sure, people started noticing the physical difference in my body after a few months, but mostly they noticed how much more positive my interactions were, how my focus had been sharpened, how I was more dedicated to completing tasks or chores. . I think that is the real advantage of burpee for me, just a reformulation of my values towards a more positive mindset, valuing every day for highs and lows and showing gratitude and goodwill in my interactions with others.
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