Burpees, A Blueprint For Efficiency
I'm addicted to burpees. The addiction came on slowly but started soon after I read Spartan Up by Joe Desena. We were visiting Washington State and doing a lot of hiking. I was short on time and needed to do something to keep me moving and in some sort of physical shape. The idea to start doing burpees every morning came from the book. I began with 15 each morning with the goal to add 1 repetition each week; I'm now up to 30 a day. The exercise itself is very simple yet it incorporates the entire body. If you have ever done a few of these in a workout, you can understand the awesome affects they can have. I prefer to do them strict: drop into a pushup, hop up into a squat and reach for the ceiling. Some mornings, if my wife is lucky, I'll do them in the buff 🙂
This, however, is not a blog about the technique of the burpee but rather about the value of doing them and the importance of having a cornerstone habit. You see, the burpees are a part of a larger morning ritual or routine, whatever the experts prefer to call it. They are either the first or the second thing I do when I get out of bed in the morning. Before I get too far ahead, here's a quick disclaimer: we don't have kids or own a house. This might provide a luxury some don't have but just stick with me here. I'm also not an early riser, not a 5:30am type, but I prefer not to sleep in past 6:30am and I hate getting out of bed. No matter how subtle the alarm setting, it can sound like the blaring horn of a semi and it always comes at the most inopportune time.
What the morning ritual allows me to do is to get my ass out of bed and set myself up in a mindset to get things done that matter. There is a HUGE difference between getting shit done and getting shit done that provides value; not all tasks are created equal. Uncharted is not my full-time gig. I'm very fortunate to have full-time corporate employment to which I dedicate 45 to 50 hours a week and which pays for Uncharted (which is another 20 to 25 hours a week). Making sure I'm using my time wisely in both is of paramount importance to the success of each.
The burpees do a great job of waking me up, getting focused, and energized. Think of it as a pseudo-meditation. The only time I will not do them second is when nature calls. I drink black tea and some of us might drink coffee, but I just feel like burpees are on another level. No external stimulant needed. The other piece, the selfish piece, is that I'm getting my body primed for my training session later in the morning. If something goes haywire or not per plan, I feel slightly better knowing I got these bad boys in.
Here is what the general flow of my routine looks like. This is by no means perfect from day to day but I try to stick to it as much as possible. The intention is to work on the mind and body all before getting out the door and making sure I'm taking care of the most important things first: myself and my wife.
- 1.) Start the kettle for the tea that I'll have while making breakfast and feed Liam Neeson (our cat).
- 2.) Burpees times whatever number I'm on that week.
- 3.) Read at least 10 to 20 pages. I prefer non-fiction books for morning education but reading in general gets the creative juices flowing.
- 4.) Meditate or do breathing exercises for 5 to 10 minutes. This is just another technique to center and focus myself, as well as visualize my goals. Going to put more work in this area this year.
- 5.) Make and eat breakfast with Alina. Don't take that for granted. Spend time with your loved ones. I'm fortunate to have an amazing wife with whom I can have breakfast every morning.
- 6.) Hit the showers. I like to keep them on the cooler side.
- 7.) Do not look at the phone until 8am. I will sometimes intentionally let my battery die overnight to deliver me from temptation. It can wait.
- 8.) Up until breakfast I'll have a podcast playing in the background. Besides Uncharted Performance (shameless plug), I'll throw on Tim Ferriss, Joe DeFranco or Hardcore History, to name a few examples.
This is my current routine. It has changed overtime. Some things work, some don't. You do not have to fit a square peg in a round whole. In terms of timing, from getting up to out the door is about an hour and a half. I'm not telling everyone to do this by any means, but simply sharing what is working for me. Feel free to borrow what you think might work for you. How you start your day sets you up for the remainder of that day, that week, that month, etc. If you get anything from this blog post at all, it is the importance of morning rituals for the rest of your day. Seize your mornings and set yourself up for success.
P.S. What you do today starts yesterday but more on that next time.
Co-Creator, Uncharted Performance
Olympic Weightlifting Aficionado
Huge Vikings (the show) Fan